Teach English Abroad in Japan

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Teaching Abroad in Japan

For most westerners, the thought of Japan conjures up images of Tokyo high-rises, expensive sushi dinners, and flashy anime shows. These are just a few aspects of a beautifully diverse country that spans from the snowy mountains in Hokkaido to the tropical island of Okinawa. Teaching jobs in Japan can be an incredibly rewarding experience even for folks who don’t wish to pursue a lifetime career in education, as the classroom often becomes a center of cultural exchange. Those who teach in Japan will learn about the depth of Japan’s history, culture, and people daily.


If international candidates pursue teaching jobs in Japan through a well-established and popular program like JET, the majority of placements will be located in smaller rural areas, in public high schools, or middle schools. The Japanese Ministry of education was created intentionally, to provide rural students with exposure to foreigners that they might not otherwise experience. In larger cities like Nagoya or Yokohama, many teachers work with private corporations, teaching in language schools that offer a range of classes from private tutoring to conversation classes.

For someone looking to teach abroad in Japan in a city-based placement, there are a few large cities other than Tokyo to consider. The Kansai region is home to Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Kobe. Each of these cities strikes a pleasant balance between old world and modern city, with both an abundance of temples and traditional landmarks, and all the convenience of an urban center. Living in one of these cities also ensures you are only a short train ride away from another city filled with cultural diversions, so boredom will never be an issue for teachers who choose to teach in Japan.

If you’re hoping to pursue a quieter lifestyle, much of Japan is made up of rural farmland, and there are plenty of opportunities for interested teachers who want to teach in Japan at a local school. The Tohoku region in the north of Japan’s main island, Honshu, offers incredible scenery as the backdrop to life in the country. This region is known for its ski resorts and natural onsens (hot springs), but this region isn’t yet filled with tourists, so don’t expect to run into many foreigners.

Okinawa is another unique location to consider for teaching jobs in Japan. This small island is located off the coast of Japan, so many Okinawans consider their culture to be distinct from the rest of the country. These differences are evident in many of the local customs, the local dialect, and even the Okinawan cuisine. There is a large military presence from the United States in Okinawa, so you may want to consider if you are comfortable being mistaken for a serviceman or woman when you are outside of the school environment.

Teaching Placements

Typically, teaching abroad in Japan is relegated to teaching English as a Second Language. There are a few rare positions for professorships at Universities, but for the most part Japanese courses are instructed in Japanese. Not all programs or companies require formal English education degrees to find employment, as the emphasis is often on building conversation skills and honing pronunciation. However, a TEFL certification can make a candidate a more appealing new hire for teaching jobs in Japan.

Depending on the program, teachers may be placed in middle and high schools. Opportunities to become a primary school teacher in Japan, or be placed in kindergartens or preschools, is fairly rare, but is an option periodically. In a private language school, teachers could find themselves teaching children who are not yet school age or teaching adults senior citizens. However, the biggest demand for English language instruction is in middle to high schools, where students are required to study English as part of the national curriculum. Just a few years back, the Japanese government extended the years of required English education to include the fifth and sixth grade, which may create a larger demand for elementary school teachers in Japan over the next few years.

Teachers who teach in Japan will have varied schedules depending on their placement or position. Some programs require that teachers work a standard work week schedule (which provides a nice sense of structure), while private companies may require teachers negotiate their schedule with their employer, which can provide for greater control in some cases, or more frustration, depending upon your personality. Taking time to consider the type of work environment will ultimately help you decide which route to pursue. Also, understanding that with teaching experience you can apply for a different set of teaching jobs in Japan than those that are offered to first-time teachers.

Salaries & Costs

Teachers’ wages in Japan will vary greatly depending on the employer. The cost of living in Japan can be higher, in some cases, in comparison to the United States, but generally employers strive to provide teachers with a good living wage. Some programs are set up to ensure all teachers receive the same compensation no matter their placement, so you can calculate your living costs even before you arrive. Private companies will sometimes work on a commission basis, so you will need to be prepared to bring in and keep new students in these cases.

Taxes can be a complicated and intimidating issue for teachers who go abroad for the first time. However, America and Japan have an agreement that caps the amount of foreign income earned that American citizens must pay taxes on, and Japan allows international residents (with valid visas!) to claim tax-exemption for the first two years of their residency. Essentially, for the first two years of most teaching jobs in Japan, you must report your earned income to the IRS, but you can take home all your wages without taxation from Japan or the United States. Several other countries have similar agreements with Japan, but you should always check with your home country prior to filing your taxes.

Accommodation & Visas

Housing in Japan is quite different from most western countries. Size matters in Japan, and Japanese homes often have to maximize minimal space available. Central heating and air conditioning are rare in Japan, and the costs associated with the use of these comforts can be relatively high. Many international teachers who teach in Japan live in their own accommodations, and finding housing without the help of a local can prove to be tricky. It’s often best to negotiate with your employer prior to arrival to help with securing accommodations, so there is no confusion as to where you will be staying when you arrive on Japanese soil.

The Japanese government does have strict guidelines when it comes to internationals working in Japan. Most employers will help with the visa application process, as you will need a sponsor to obtain a working visa. Don’t expect to be able to find legitimate salaried work on a tourist visa in Japan; you will most likely only be able to find “under the table” freelance work without a proper visa, which comes with its own set of frustrations and issues. The best route to obtaining a proper visa is to first find an employer, while still in your home country, so they can assist you. Visa processing with the Japanese embassy, while not complicated, can be time consuming, so contact your local Japanese embassy or consulate early on.

Benefits & Challenges

The market for teaching jobs in Japan has always been fairly robust for native English speakers willing to teach English as a second language. Although in recent years there has been a push to include Chinese language instruction, English is still one of the most in demand languages in Japan.

International teachers should be aware that while Japan is generally a safe and pleasant country to reside in, any criminal behavior from a foreigner is dealt with harshly. Recreational drug use is particularly stigmatized in Japanese culture, and anyone caught with an illegal substance is subject to deportation.

Teaching in Japan provides valuable skills in many different ways depending on the teaching placement. Many international teachers use teaching as a foot in the door to Japanese employment, moving away from education to private industry after their contracts have expired. For candidates with no previous exposure to Japanese culture, it may simply be a chance to test the waters of international English teaching or international travel and education.

Whatever has sparked your interest in teaching in Japan, you will discover a thousand more reasons to love this unique island country upon your arrival.

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A Guide To

Teaching Abroad in Japan


25 Teach Abroad Programs in Japan


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Earn an accredited TEFL Certification & receive lifetime job placement assistance for getting a paid job teaching English in Japan and up to 80 countries worldwide. ITA offers accredited TEFL courses online and in 25 locations globally. We certify 4,000 people a year to teach English abroad and our graduates enjoy lifetime access to exclusive alumni networks & services.

cherry blossoms in Japan

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Amity Corporation is a leader in the field of English conversation education for children in Japan. With over 85 branch schools throughout Japan, Amity has provided international teaching opportunities for more than a decade. Amity offers exciting opportunities for enthusiastic professionals who enjoy working with children. Amity Native English Teachers have the unique opportunity to gain inval...


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Teach English in Japan with the AEON Corporation, one of Japan's largest English Conversation schools. AEON teachers gain teaching and international business skills while growing professionally and personally in Japan. From the flight allowance and furnished apartment to our competitive salary and fully paid vacations, AEON offers the best opportunity for you to work and live in Japan.


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Learn more about the Japanese culture while teaching the English language to the locals. Offered by Interac, this incredible opportunity allows individuals to aid young students to broaden their horizons as well as give them the chance to improve their international comprehension. This program lasts for a year and is open to American, Australian, Canadian, European, Kiwi, and South African part...

A park in Japan

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If you want to get yourself to Japan and change lives by Teaching English as a Foreign Language, an i-to-i TEFL Course can open the door to thousands of Teaching English jobs and get you ready for your first day in the classroom. We offer a range of TEFL qualifications, which can be studied online or at weekends, plus you don’t need any teaching experience. Find out more and get started on your...


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Learn more about Japanese culture by teaching in private schools in Tokyo or in public schools in one of over ten locations. Developed by Teach Away Inc., this one-year opportunity is for Native English-speakers who are interested in pursuing an international teaching career. During their free time participants have the chance to visit stunning places throughout the country, including Mt. Fuji ...


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Trellis' unique and international non-profit program is perfect for individuals who want to travel with purpose and teach English overseas. Venture to Vietnam and journey to Japan by volunteering with Trellis in 2017. Trellis' Volunteer and Work Experience Program takes place in the beautiful city of Danang on the central coast of Vietnam. It is a 12-week program which consists of three stages...


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Teach in Japan with Gaba Corporation, the number one provider of one-to-one classes for adult learners of English. We have 39 studios in the main urban areas of mainland Japan (Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya). Certification and teacher support are provided to all Instructors and we actively encourage you to develop your skills while you are with us.


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ITTT’s TEFL certificate course in Tokyo, Japan is designed to give you the best possible training in teaching English as a foreign language.


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Travel abroad for less and learn the language of your host family in exchange, you teach them back yours. GoCambio connects millions of people who want to learn or improve the language they are learning with the millions of people who travel in search of unique and independent experiences. So, in exchange for a couple of hours a day helping someone improve the way they communicate in the ...


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Education Network Co., Ltd. offers this international teaching placement in Japan. Situated in Nagoya, this one year program allows hired individuals to mentor pupils at Kids International School in addition to creating a comprehensive curricula and educational materials to effectively teach the the English language. Participation is limited to American, Australian, Canadian, and Kiwi citizens.