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This page is your roadmap to all the opportunities in Japan.
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STUDENT

SCHOLARSHIPS   /   LEARNING JAPANESE

   CONFERENCES  /   POST-GRADUATE STUDY

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL

INTERNSHIPS   /   JOB SEEKERS

OTHER

   ACCOMMODATION   /   EXPERIENCES

INTRODUCTION TO JAPAN

Few destinations in Asia have as much pull as Japan. This is because Japan really does have something for everyone. Whether it be hiking in front of picturesque scenery, manga, skiing, bullet trains, whiskey, cosplay, shopping, arcades, theme parks, martial arts or eating, Japan does nothing by half measures. No wonder Japan is a popular destination amongst young people to experience for its vibrant culture, history and bustling cities. Japan is also the world’s third largest economy and is also a leader in offering international scholarship opportunities and youth exchange partnerships. Japan though is not a cheap location to study and work, and doing your research is important to maximise your experience or access external funding. This is where we come in. Check out our content and get ready for an experience of a lifetime!

 

STUDENT

With the hosting of the 2020 Olympics, Japan recognises its needs to boost its international profile, people-to-people links, and English language skills. Through generous scholarships to study at Japanese universities, Japan is hoping to reach 300,000 international students studying in the country by 2020, to not only improve English language skills amongst Japanese citizens, but also improve university rankings.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS

There are plenty of excellent scholarships to help you study in Japan. With Japan’s goal of becoming a more open country to the world, it offers the generous Monbukagakusho scholarship (also known as MEXT). This scholarship includes a waiver of university fees, return airfares to Japan, free health insurance and a monthly stipend of at least ¥117,000. There are also plenty of other scholarships available, including the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan for undergraduate students. If you are intending to study as a part of an exchange programme, be sure to check out whether your home and host institutions also provide study abroad scholarships.

LEARNING JAPANESE

Learning Japanese has long been a popular option for Australians and Japanese is known to be slightly easier to pick up than other languages in Asia that are tonal in pronunciation. However Japanese grammar and kanji (Chinese characters) still prove a worthy test for any linguist! Learning Japanese is pivotal to truly exploring Japan and breaking into the job market as the Japanese population is also renowned for low levels of English proficiency.

CONFERENCES

Japan hosts a number of conferences and youth programs, often sponsored by the Japanese Government to promote global links and cooperation. Many youth conferences are free and may even include sponsored flights to Japan! Make sure you follow the Asia Options Facebook feed to find out about the latest youth opportunities. Websites, such as Lanyrd are excellent for viewing upcoming professional conferences in Japan.

POSTGRADUATE STUDY

According to MEXT (2013), Japan has 782 universities that provide higher education to over 2.8 million students. No wonder choosing a host institution for an exchange program in Japan is so difficult! Of these hundreds of universities, 86 are national universities, 90 public universities and 606 private universities. JASSO maintains that of these 2.8 million students, less than 150,000 are international students. In the coming months Asia Options will be putting together a guide to highlight the best programs on offer. In the meantime, here are a number of postgraduate funding options available to study in Japan.

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YOUNG PROFESSIONAL

INTERNSHIPS

Finding internships in Japan does take research but they are certainly around. The best way to find internships in Japan is to look out for university campus notice boards, ask your friends, check out Craig’s List Tokyo and talk to your professors for introductions to former students. A cold approach via email is also worth a try but has a low success rate in Japan. Remember that Japan is also one of the Australian Government postings in Asia offering an internship program with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Internships in Japan are not always well paid but larger companies do tend to pay a decent stipend and other benefits are sometimes offered including free language classes. Be wary of agents focused on helping students find internships in Japan, as they can be very expensive.

JOB SEEKERS

Most entry-level jobs for foreigners involve teaching English in some capacity. But that doesn’t mean other opportunities aren’t available. The best way to break into the non-teaching jobs market is through persistence, networking, studying in-country and improving your Japanese language ability.

Job boards

  • GaijinPot – The site that just about every foreigner in Japan has been on at least once in their life. It tends to be more useful for those already living in Japan (as this is a requirement of most of the job ads posted).
  • Daijob – Most of the job ads require some Japanese language proficiency and the opportunities tend to congregate around the IT and finance sectors, but Daijob remains one of the better jobs boards for professionals and those who don’t want to work teaching English.
  • Japan English Teacher – Fact of life: most English speaking foreigners in Japan are or have at one time been employed as an English teacher. This website aims to help find you that job. Many Japanese schools hire “assistant language teachers”, so lack of a teaching degree isn’t an impediment.
  • Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program – The official Government program which has been sending foreigners to teach English in Japanese public schools for over two decades. The initial pathway to Japan for many Australians who now work in or with Japan in other capacities.
  • Region specific classifieds – Magazines catering to the expat communities contain classified sections if you’re looking to land a job in a particular region. See Metropolis for Tokyo, Kansai Scene for Osaka and surrounds, and Japazine for Nagoya. If you’re casting your net more widely, check the classifieds in the major newspapers, like The Japan Times.
  • Seek – Jobs and internships in the Asia Pacific, you can narrow your search down to Japan.

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OTHER

ACCOMMODATION

Most universities in Japan have residential dormitories that welcome international students. Staying in a dormitory is usually cheaper than living in an apartment, however dormitories in Japan uphold rules that require dorm residents to follow a wake-up time and/or curfew (around 11pm). Bathrooms and kitchens are commonly shared amongst residents. Dormitories are conveniently located within the university campus’ neighbourhood, making transport to and from school the least of your worries.
Japan’s guarantor system can be a headache for newly-arrived foreigners looking for long-term accommodation in regular apartments. A guarantor (rentai hoshonin) is a person who co-signs the lease to share liability with the tenant. As landlords prefer relatives as guarantors, it is extremely difficult for foreigners to secure accommodation in apartments. On top of this, renting an apartment in Japan usually requires a security deposit (shikikin) and/or key money (reikin) to be paid upfront to the landlord. If you are studying abroad, your host institution may act as your guarantor. If you are working in Japan, you may be able to arrange for your company to act as your guarantor, however this may be problematic if your company decides to no longer be the guarantor or if you decide to find a new job.
For those who value living alone more than anything, don’t fret! Foreigner-friendly real estate agencies like Sakura House and Oakhouse in Tokyo can help you dodge the unaccommodating inflexibilities of the guarantor system in Japan. These agencies offer directories of all sorts of accommodation (such as apartments, share houses, and dormitories), allowing foreigners to rent apartments with ease of mind. Share houses and gaijin houses are also becoming an increasingly popular options amongst Japanese locals and foreigners in Japan. Most of these share houses are located in centralised areas/major cities in Japan. Affordable, fully furnished and convenient, staying in a share house is a great way to develop your network amongst Japanese locals and foreigners – many of whom are young professionals.
If you want a taste of the local community, residing in Japan under a homestay program may be the option for you. Homestays can run from three months to one year, however short-term stays are also possible. Host families usually provide daily meals to guests. Furthermore, homestay is a great opportunity to improve your Japanese language skills and become accustomed to Japanese culture. You will also experience things you wouldn’t necessarily be able to experience living elsewhere, such as eating okaasan/otoosan‘s flavoursome homemade food! You can find countless homestays in Japan through Homestay.com and Homestay in JAPAN.

EXPERIENCES

Sometimes the best way to brainstorm ideas and gain tips on how to engage with Japan is to talk to pioneering young people who have gone before you. Each person’s experience is different but learning from their success and setbacks could well steer you into your next opportunity or stint overseas.