Why Study in Japan? Here are our top 10 reasons

Study in Japan ukiyo-e style banner

You should seriously consider studying in Japan due to its cheaper tuition fees for international students than many other developed nations, lots of scholarship opportunities, low cost of living for students, generous part-time work allowances, ample graduate employment opportunities, and welcoming immigration system. As a country that has continued to meld high technology into the fabric of its society whilst remaining true to its unique culture, Japan continues to fascinate people around the world. In addition to Japanese language courses, the number of degree courses taught in English at Japanese universities has increased in recent years, making Japan an increasingly popular study destination. Over the last 10 years, the total number of international students enrolled at universities in Japan has increased by over 160%.

Japan is continually internationalizing as its companies actively compete across the globe; leading to good job prospects for graduates. Studying a bachelor’s degree in Japan is also more affordable than in many other G7 nations and there are many scholarship opportunities available. All of which is leading more students to ask “should I study in Japan?”.

Here are 10 great reasons why you should consider studying in Japan!

1. Japan has a high-quality of education

iCLA building front entrance

Japan is renowned for its excellent education system and is the top-performing OECD country in reading literacy, math and sciences with the average student scoring 529, well above the OECD average 486. 94.6% of Japanese adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%.

All Japanese universities are regulated by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MEXT) and therefore degrees from Japanese universities are recognized internationally. By choosing to study at a university in Japan, you can be assured of an excellent education.

2. Excellent employment opportunities for international students

Japanese Business People DiscussingJapan is the world’s 3rd largest economy and home to many famous multinational companies in the technology, automotive and manufacturing sectors. With Japanese companies being active around the world, knowledge of the Japanese language and business culture can be extremely beneficial for your future career both in Japan and abroad. It is well known that Japan faces demographic pressures as its population continues to shrink and age rapidly. This is creating great employment opportunities for international students who graduate from Japanese universities.

There are skill shortages emerging in many industries and increasing competition amongst companies for workers who are bi-lingual and tri-lingual. Most companies will still require fluency in Japanese which you can attain while studying at a Japanese University. However, there are an ever-increasing number of jobs that do not require you to have JLPT N1 level Japanese.

Japan has a very welcoming set of immigration policies towards skilled labor. Unlike some countries which limit the number of years a graduate can “stay back” in the country, international graduates of Japanese universities can renew their work visas as many times as they like, so long as they remain in employment. There is also a points-based path to permanent residency now in place in Japan which grants extra points to international students who have graduated from a Japanese university.

3. Affordable tuition fees & generous scholarships

Hand putting coins in a jarAt many Japanese universities, international students pay the same fees as Japanese domestic students, this helps to make Japan a more affordable destination than many other G7 nations. The Japanese government supports international education through its JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) and MEXT scholarships. In addition to this most universities have their own academic merit scholarships that you can apply for. At iCLA we have four tiers of academic merit scholarship available, and you could receive a four-year waiver of 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of your tuition, facility and equipment fees. Applying for a scholarship at iCLA is as easy as submitting an extra essay with your application to iCLA.

There’s also a long list of private and foundational scholarships that can support you over your time in Japan. Many people think Japan has a high cost of living. However, once you get outside of the major cities like Tokyo or Osaka the cost of living markedly decreases.

According to Times Higher Education, the average tuition cost for an international student at a typical public college in the US is $26,290 USD per year. A typical private non-profit college would charge $35,830 USD per year. In comparison, the yearly tuition cost of a Japanese university is around one half to one quarter the cost of a US university. Tuition fees will vary between different universities so be sure to check the rates at the particular universities you are interested in. International students in Japan also have the ability to work part time up to 28 hours a week during semester and up to 40 hours a week over vacations, again making studying in Japan a more financially viable option than many other countries.

4. Safe and secure, with an excellent medical system

Three female iCLA students chatting in a dorm room
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. The crime rate in Japan is extremely low, with minimal rates of drug use. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Tokyo and Osaka as the world’s 1st and 3rd safest cities respectively. While Japan does have natural disasters from time to time it also has very high building standards. Japan’s natural propensity for earthquakes has brought forth centuries of innovations in earthquake-resistant technology, putting Japan at the forefront of safe infrastructure in the world.

Japan was also the first country in the world to enshrine environmental protections into law and continues to have very strong food safety regulations. According to the World Health Organization, the Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world, thanks in part to Japan’s excellent medical system which you will have access to as a student through the very affordable national health insurance system.

iCLA provides a safe, secure and convenient environment for its students with its onsite dorms and bi-lingual counselling services. You can find out more information on our dormitories and student life on our homepage.

5. You can earn a degree and learn Japanese at the same time

Boy writing Japanese characters

Traditionally, an international student seeking to study at a Japanese University would attend a Japanese language school to improve their Japanese to a JLPT N2 or N1 level. They would then take university entrance exams and go on to study a degree program in Japanese. This process often means that getting a degree could take several years longer than the standard length of the degree, with the additional associated expense.

At a university offering an English-taught degree like iCLA however, you can study Japanese as an elective while studying towards your major. iCLA’s Japanese language program is designed to assist you in gaining fluency in Japanese by the time you graduate. Learning Japanese while you earn your degree can save you years and thousands of dollars.

Universities in Japan also have many clubs and societies where you can make friends and use your Japanese in real life situations. At Yamanashi Gakuin University we have over 90 different clubs and societies you can join. The part time work rights granted to international students will also allow you to improve your Japanese and experience Japanese business culture at the same time.

6. Learn about Japanese culture, history, and nature

View of Mt Fuji from Lake Motosu
Japan’s culture and history continue to fascinate many people around the world. Japan is a country that puts a lot of effort into preserving its historical sites and cultural heritage, often leading to unique juxtapositions of the metropolitan and the historical. In recognition of this, to date twenty three locations in Japan have been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

As one of the highest context languages (meaning that communication is dependent on the understanding of the underlying cultural context rather than the direct meaning of the words), the subtlety of Japanese is intrinsically linked and expressed in its culture and art. Improving your Japanese while living and studying in Japan will allow you to gain an even deeper appreciation for Japan’s history, townscapes, shrines, temples, Samurai culture and anime. An investigation of the unique art forms and aesthetics of Japan may inspire you to assess your inner beliefs, leading to improvements in yourself through deep cross-cultural understanding.

Yamanashi Gakuin University is located only 90 minutes by rail from Tokyo, so you have great access to such spots as Akihabara, where you can experience the Japanese anime scene and digital technology, and Shibuya, where you can experience Japanese pop culture. In addition, iCLA is in Yamanashi Prefecture, the home of Mt. Fuji and two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (the Minami Alps and Kobushi UNESCO Biosphere Reserves) offering a plethora of historical and cultural sites and an abundance of hiking and mountain climbing opportunities.

7. Great quality of life

Karate class at iCLA
Long term residents and visitors alike often remark on how “everything just works” in Japan. From the trains that run so on-time drivers have apologised for arriving 30 seconds behind schedule, to the ease of paying for bills and other goods at convenience stores, the cleanliness and order of its cities and towns, exceptional levels of customer service, and the broader engagement in community life in evidence, all of this equates to liveable cities and a great quality of life in Japan.

Every year articles are published where cities have been ranked on differing metrics and one announced as the “most liveable in the world”. Japanese cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto frequently feature highly on these lists. The metrics generally used in these assessments include access to public transport and healthcare, climate, political stability, cost of living pressures, access to employment opportunities, walkability, safety, the list goes on. It is little wonder then that these Japanese cities, with their economic opportunities, cleanliness, low crime, and efficient and interconnected transport systems that are directly tied to housing developments often rank highly.

While cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto loom large in the imagination when one thinks of Japan, how does life in smaller regional centers like Kofu, the capital of Yamanashi Prefecture compare? What smaller cities may lack the neon glitz and crowds of their megacity cousins they more than make up for in their lower cost of housing and food, more relaxed pace of life and access to the great outdoors.

Yamanashi Prefecture is a popular getaway spot for people from Tokyo and its surrounds, with many holiday homes and camping spots dotted around the prefecture, particularly around Mt Fuji and the Five Lakes of Fuji area. Kofu and its surrounds offer easy access to activities such as seasonal fruit picking (strawberries, cherries, peaches and grapes to name a few), hiking, mountain climbing, camping, fishing, skiing, plenty of onsens (hot springs) and Japan’s top destination for roller coaster addicts, the Fuji Q Highland theme park. For more information please see our local’s guide to the 17 best things to do, see and eat in Yamanashi.

In addition to this easy access to leisure activities, smaller regional centers like Kofu have much lower housing costs with both rents and house prices being much lower. Food costs also tend to be lower with better access to local farmers markets, meaning we have access to fresher produce for less. The convenience of living in a larger city is all still here. Convenience stores are still open 24 hours a day, there is a multiplex cinema in a large modern mall, and the downtown has a vibrant entertainment district with plenty of bars and restaurants.

Japan is a land of contrasts and is a rich source of research and debate for economists and political scientists alike, but for visitors to Japan like international students, the quality of life here is something to behold.

8. Japan fosters your self-discovery and adventurous spirit

Torii gate at Hakone Shrine, Lake Hakone
Living in Japan will give you many opportunities to speak Japanese and therefore improve your Japanese ability. You will also face culture shock and the process of overcoming it will improve your self-reliance and resilience. Japan is definitely a country where you can truly immerse yourself in its language while living here. Studying overseas is always a journey of self-discovery, but this additional linguistic dimension enhances it, further developing your adventurous spirit.

Living in another culture and learning a new language allows you the distance to examine and gain a deeper understanding of your own culture. You will gain a new appreciation for the importance of diversity and cross cultural understanding. Japan is also a very safe country to explore. With its impressive public transport and rail network, including the iconic “Shinkansen” or bullet train, it’s very easy to travel around Japan!

9. Lifelong friendships and future career connections

iCLA students in Yukata at the YGU Tanabata Festival
Studying in Japan and sharing this unique experience with your fellow students will lead to lifelong international friendships and future career connections. At iCLA, you will be studying with students from over forty other countries. Our faculty is also very multicultural, with over 60% of them coming from outside Japan, and 88% of the full time faculty members having been educated overseas. Our students regularly describe iCLA as a real melting pot, where they are supported to share their differing viewpoints and learn about each other’s cultures.

All first year iCLA students, including the Japanese students, must live in our on-site student accommodation. This leads to a very close-knit, inclusive and diverse student body and a supportive community spirit you might not find at a larger universities. Living and studying with students from all over the world will give you a fantastic cross-cultural education that will benefit you over your whole post university career.

10. Japanese food tastes better in Japan!

A feast of Japanese food
Perhaps we’ve left the most important reason until last, but if you want to experience the best Japanese food, you need to come to Japan! With Japanese food such as sushi and ramen becoming increasingly popular around the world, you’ve probably got a good idea of Japanese cuisine; but just wait till you get here!

Each region has a variety of delicacies on offer and Yamanashi is no exception. Living here you’ll get to try some of Yamanashi’s famous foods like hearty Hoto noodles, yuba, Yoshida-udon, Torimotsu, Venison curry, and Otsukedango.

When you are not out sampling the local cuisine, iCLA’s cafeteria will have you covered with 3 meals each weekday of delicious and nutritious local and international dishes. There’s even a vegan option available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, many universities, including ours, offer a wide range of programs in English.

Absolutely. Japan offers a high-quality education, a rich cultural experience, and a safe environment, making it an excellent choice for international students.

Yes, you can study in Japan without knowing Japanese if you enroll in a program taught in English. However, learning Japanese while you are here will enhance your experience and daily life in Japan.

Yes, compared to many Western countries, studying in Japan can be more affordable, with reasonable tuition fees and living costs. Additionally, there are numerous scholarships and financial aid options available.

Potential challenges include the language barrier for daily interactions outside the classroom and adapting to cultural differences. However, the overall experience is highly rewarding for most international students.

That’s it for our top ten reasons to study in Japan!

Did you learn something new about coming to Japan as an international student? If you’ve got more reasons why Japan is a great study destination let us know! To stay in touch with us and find out more about iCLA, follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Studying in Japan is an experience like no other, and the International College of Liberal Arts at Yamanashi Gakuin University is ready to welcome you! Our degree program is taught entirely in English so you don’t need to speak Japanese to apply or enroll. We offer majors in Global Business and EconomicsInterdisciplinary Arts, Interdisciplinary Data Science, Japan Studies, Political Science, and Psychology, as well a wide variety of elective courses in topics as diverse as Sociology, Natural Science and Quantative Reasoning, in addition to our extensive Japanese Language program. Our curriculum is designed to give you the best basis for a successful career both here in Japan and abroad. We have two intakes per year and applications are done completely online at apply.icla.ygu.ac.jp.

If you think studying in Japan sounds like a good option, register for more information and to download a copy of our student brochure!