Japan’s education system is perennially ranked as one of the best in the world, and the capital city of Tokyo is at the center of it all. It is not only the world’s largest city, but also one of the world’s most economically productive and connected cities. The Tokyo metropolitan area is home to over 35 million inhabitants, a number of multinational corporations, and quite a few elite academic institutions. Teaching jobs in Tokyo typically revolved around teaching English, since English fluency is highly sought after. Individuals who choose to teach in Tokyo will have the chance to join the ranks of a fun, enriching, and unique culture.
Teaching in Tokyo
Japanese is the language of education throughout Japan, which somewhat narrows the possibilities for foreign teachers who are not familiar with the language to teach abroad in Japan. However, although speaking at least some Japanese is generally preferred of teaching applicants, there are still plenty of teaching jobs in Tokyo that do not require teachers to speak the language.
Opportunities to teach in Tokyo are offered for international teachers at a variety of levels, and at both private and public schools. Many schools that focus on recruiting English teachers will require applicants to have TEFL certificates, but this is not always a necessity. Teaching jobs in Japan are available for individuals who want to teach English as a Foreign Language, to children, high school students, college students, or adult learners. Individuals can teach in Japan through both structured classroom placements and in private tutoring lessons. English is the language of International Business worldwide, so in such a global city, the opportunity to learn English is highly valued and there are plenty of eager students.
There are also many positions for international teachers to teach in Japan at bilingual or international schools in Tokyo. These schools typically range from kindergarten to grade 12, and offer foreign teachers an opportunity to teach subjects outside of English (i.e. Math, Science, History). Generally these positions offer more permanent, long-term positions and require more of applicants, in regards to teaching credentials.
Life in Tokyo
Though immensely large and densely populated, Tokyo flourishes as an impressively clean and efficiently run city. You will enjoy a comfortable standard of living teaching abroad in Tokyo, and come to benefit from the city’s many accessible public services. The expansive metro system will take you anywhere you need to go within the prefecture limits, and major railways will also conveniently take you throughout the rest of Japan. Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains travel at speeds of over 200 miles per hour and make outside travel fun and extremely fast.
While teaching in Tokyo you will come to fully embrace Japanese culture in all its historical richness and uniquely modern manifestations. Even though it is a bustling global city, Tokyo holds onto its culturally distinct heritage through all new developments. Culture shock is certain to greet individuals teaching in Tokyo, as they will experience many things which will strike them as odd or bizarre at first. But teachers must give Japan time, and soon they will be a warmly integrated part of their new home. The sprawling public parks, ancient temples, electric nightlife, humming market places, and expansive museums of Tokyo will inspire teachers in Japan to never stop exploring.
Salaries & Costs
Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. Since the city is so highly populated, and globally competitive, you will find that everyday costs of transportation and meals can make quite a dent in your wallet. Teaching in Tokyo will provide you with a decent enough salary, but be wary of your spending. At the end of the month your living costs may add up quickly, especially if you are eating at restaurants and using the metro frequently. Shopping locally will make for the thriftiest lifestyle while teaching in Tokyo.
The Japanese Yen runs at an exchange rate of about 109 JPY to $1.00. Teaching salaries for teaching jobs in Japan typically vary from 180,000 to 300,000 JPY a month, depending on the school, monthly hours, and other included forms of compensation. Many teaching jobs in Tokyo will compensate teachers with provided housing, for example, and some meals served during working hours. Carefully research a variety of available teaching jobs in Tokyo to find the one that best fits your cultural expectations and financial needs.
Accommodations & Visas
Many schools will help organize housing for their foreign teachers, either in independent or group living scenarios. If you are planning on finding housing independently then you will want to spend some time extensively researching the best place for you to live. Tokyo is a monolithic city, encompassing 23 special wards, 26 cities, one district, and four sub prefectures. When looking for housing make sure that you search in locations within a reasonable distance from your teaching placement and take into account commute time and general accessibility to public transport. Affordability of available housing will vary greatly between regions, but as a general rule of thumb expect apartments to be cheaper away from the city’s central iconic areas.
You will need to organize an employment visa to teach in Japan if you are planning to stay and teach for more than 90 days. Your employer or school will usually help facilitate this process and provide you with necessary documentation. (If you are curious about the specific requirements for your home country, check out GoAbroad’s Japanese Embassy Directory for more information).
Benefits & Challenges
No matter how long you plan on traveling, living, or teaching in Tokyo, it will no doubt be a life changing experience. It is one of the truly great cities of the world, and you will enjoy the perks of a highly connected city while at the same time benefit from exposure to the thriving, unique Japanese culture.
The Japanese education system is one of the finest in the world, so while teaching in Tokyo, you might just end up learning even more than your students.