Study Abroad in Japan

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Japan

For much of Japan’s history it remained isolated from the outside world. In the 19th century, however, the small island country opened its doors to trade and an active foreign policy, and it has never looked back in emerging as a major global power. Making the leap to study abroad in Japan will be the opportunity to immerse yourself within a top-notch academic environment and a vibrant, autonomous culture which has stood the test of time and globalization to remain true to its roots.


Japan is a medium-sized nation off the coast of East Asia which encompasses an archipelago of nearly 7,000 islands. The four main islands on which the bulk of Japan’s 127 million citizens reside are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, erratic weather patterns and natural disasters have been an unfortunate hallmark of Japanese history amidst this landscape, and continue to remain a distinct part of its national identity today.

With nearly 40 million people living in the metropolitan area, Tokyo is the first choice for many international students of where to study abroad in Japan. The country’s capital and largest city is a major hub of culture, technology, finance, and global innovation. Home to nearly one-third of Japan’s population, this massive metropolis can often feel like a small world in itself!

Other popular cities where you might look to study abroad in Japan include Kyoto, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. There are nearly 800 universities located throughout the Japanese islands, so take the time to look into as many different options as possible to decide where feels like the best fit. The country is also very efficiently connected by high-speed rail, meaning that wherever you study abroad in Japan, you will have easy access to everywhere else!

Subjects & Courses

The language barrier has always been a limiting factor for students looking to study abroad in Japan. While local universities are making a push to accommodate for international students (including a national target of 300,000 foreign students in the country by 2020), the fact remains that the bulk of courses at major Japanese universities are taught in the local language, limiting the scope of opportunity for those who do not speak Japanese.

So while major universities are beginning to offer more courses taught in English, it is also very common for foreign students to study abroad in Japan at a satellite university or international school, where English-taught programs are designed from the ground up for a global student body. Japanese language courses are often also an integral part of these study abroad programs in Japan, which can be a big help in life outside the classroom.

Some other popular subject areas which are commonly pursued by students who study abroad in Japan include economics, international relations, history, and Asian studies. Study abroad programs in Japan are offered year-round, giving students the flexibility to enroll for a summer term, fall or spring semester, or even full year.

Scholarships & Costs

While the majority of Japan’s universities are private and tuition fees are some of the highest in Asia, higher education is still quite affordable compared to Western countries such as the United States or United Kingdom. There are also many different ways you can go about securing financial aid, ranging from through your home university to your host university to external scholarships.

Additional costs of living won’t be cheap either while you study abroad in Japan; it is the most expensive country in East Asia, and living costs are on par with other advanced economies such as those in Western Europe and North America. Simple measures such as utilizing public transportation, cooking for yourself, and taking advantage of all the free local entertainment can help you save big!

Accommodation & Visas

Homestays are usually the most popular option for international students who study abroad in Japan, though often other accommodations such as student dormitories or individual apartments are offered as well. Because Japan is one of the more densely populated countries in the world, accommodations may be less spacious than you might be accustomed to; however you will be amazed by how efficiently and comfortably the Japanese utilize less room!

If you are planning to study abroad in Japan for longer than three months, then you will need to secure a student visa for your stay. Either your study abroad program in Japan or your host university will typically endorse you throughout this process, and in the meantime you can check out our Japanese Embassy Directory for more details on their policy toward your home country.

Benefits & Challenges

Rising Sun. The ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ can often feel like a world of its own in East Asia, separated from the mainland as an island nation and taking pride in a largely autonomous culture. Get ready for an exciting adventure abroad.

Innovative Spirit. While the language barrier has somewhat limited Japanese universities from globalizing to the same extent as their Western counterparts, the high-quality education and spirit of innovation that drives academia in the country should no be sold short. Japan has more Nobel laureates than any country in Asia.

Efficient Travel. As a visitor to the country, you will come to greatly appreciate the ease with which you can get around the entire country of Japan. From its comprehensive metro systems within cities to the high speed rails connecting them, you will have the freedom to explore as much as you see fit.

Embarking to study abroad in Japan will be an unforgettable global adventure, during which you come to experience a country and culture which has been vitally influential in the shaping of our modern world. Think you’re up to it?

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Japan


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Four-Week Intensive Japanese Language Program

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