Living in Japan guide for expats

All the information you need to relocate and live in Japan.

Our selection of articles for expatriation in Japan

Pregnancy in Japan

Are you or your partner expecting a baby during your stay in Japan? Congratulations! Well, now you need to know how to choose a ...

Buying a house in Tokyo

Now that you have been living in Tokyo for some time, aren't you thinking of becoming a homeowner? Are you wondering whether ...

Dating in Japan

Well, there is no need to panic. Dating places in Japan are the same as in other countries. They include friendship circles ...

Travelling to Japan

What has changed in Japan since the Covid pandemic? Can anyone travel there again? How to organize a short- or long-term stay in ...

The Working Holiday Visa for Japan

Japan has something to appeal to almost every type of traveler. Are you dying to explore Japanese history and culture, taste ...

Opening a bank account in Japan

Opening a bank account in Japan is relatively simple - few documents are required, and it's a quick procedure. Feel free to ...

Healthcare in Japan

Japan's health system is well-known for its efficiency and modernity. There are many clinics in the country, with most ...

Working in Japan

Japan is becoming more and more popular with foreigners, with many people aspiring to live and work there. The "Land of the ...

Discover Fukui Prefecture

Located to the northeast of the Chubu region of Honshu Island, Fukui Prefecture (Fukui-ken) lends its name to its capital ...

Discover Hyogo Prefecture

In the centre-east of Honshu Island, Hyogo is a prefecture of Kansai that takes advantage of its more-than-advantageous position ...

Accommodation in Japan

Many preconceptions about Japan can serve to intimidate expatriates – for example, that accommodation is rare, expensive ...

Accommodation in Osaka

With more than 19 million inhabitants, Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan. Osaka is often called "the rebellious ...

Accommodation in Kyoto

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is a city steeped in history. Located in Kansai, near the famous cities of Osaka, Kobe and ...

Accommodation in Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a city that immediately recalls the Second World War and the horror and desolation that this particular city ...

The Japanese labour market

With an unemployment rate below 3%, the Japanese labour market is doing well. As the world's third economic power, Japan - like ...

About Japan

Geography of Japan

Japan is an archipelago made up of more than 6,000 islands (6,852 to be exact). Most of these islands are small and mountainous (2/3 of the archipelago is composed of forests) and barely habitable. The population is, therefore, concentrated on the four main islands, which represent only 21% of the territory: Hokkaido, in the north, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. At 228,000 square kilometres, Honshu is the largest island in Japan. It is also the 7th largest island in the world. 

It is within these islands that we find the 8 major regions of Japan. Although there is no official administrative division, the different regions are often referred to for ease. To the north, there is Hokkaido: the region simply bears the name of the island. Honshu Island is composed of five major regions. To the northeast, Tohoku, which includes Aomori (known for its apple varieties) and Fukushima, a true model of resilience. To the south, the Kanto, with the country’s capital, Tokyo. To the east, the region of Chibu boasts Nagano, the city at the foot of the mountains. To the southwest lies the Kansai, which includes the iconic trio of Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. To the west comes the last region, Chûgoku, which includes the prefecture of Hiroshima.

Like Hokkaido, Shikoku Island gives its name to its region. Ditto for Kyushu which, together with the island of Okinawa, form the Kyushu region.

Climate in Japan

With its subtropical climate, the island of Okinawa, in the extreme south of Japan, is a dream destination for holidays. Northern Hokkaido is just as popular amongst those looking for the cool during the hot summers. Indeed, summers in Japan are particularly harsh: the hot, humid climate is hard to tolerate, especially in megacities like Tokyo. The capital can be suffocating, not least due to its vast population of more than 37 million: Tokyo and its suburbs represent the largest metropolis in the world. 

A political moment in Japan

2019 was a crucial year for Japan. After years of rule, Emperor Akihito abdicated. This marks a huge shift in the Land of the Rising Sun, which usually only experiences a change of era on the death of the Emperor. Emperor Akihito made way for his son, Naruhito, which means that in 2019 the Heisei era (1989-2019), led by Akihito, gave way to the Reiwa era and the new Emperor, Naruhito. Note that, though there is a word for "emperor" (koutei), nobody uses it to speak about the Emperor of Japan. The sovereign is instead called "tennou". This word, formed from the kanji for "sky" and "emperor" is an honourary term, and means "Emperor of Japan". 

Japan is a constitutional monarchy: the Emperor (the tennou) has a symbolic role and does not hold political power. In practice, power is exercised by the prime minister (Abe Shinzo, since 2012). The prime minister is not directly elected by the people, but by the deputies who are themselves directly elected by the Japanese, in legislative elections. 

The Japanese economy

With a gross domestic product (GDP) of $ 5,176 billion (in 2018), Japan is the world's third-largest power, behind the United States and China. Having blazed a trail in industry during the 70s and 80s, Japan is a leading light in technology - from research, robotics and automobiles to electronics. Its industry remains competitive. Japan’s key to success? Innovation and internationally recognised know-how. Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, Canon, and Sony are just a few of the major Japanese companies with an international presence.

Japan has also transformed its weakness into strength. An island that is 2/3 uninhabitable, with few natural resources, could have found it difficult to overcome its reality. But those who say "island", say "port", and the Japanese port sector benefits hugely from its location and geographical position through booming export trade.

Visiting Japan

To travel to Japan is to encounter a truly unique culture and incredible landscapes, all of which have retained the magical charm of the past. An ancient temple may lie amidst the skyscrapers of business districts. A historic neighbourhood can jostle alongside an upscale one. Gardens show the English, French and Japanese arts entwined. Nature is made simple; the historic mingles with the avant-garde. In Japan, magic lies around every street corner.  

While Japan is undoubtedly visited all year round, spring and autumn are seasons particularly famous for discovering all the beauties of the archipelago. In spring, nature is reborn, and with it, the famous sakura, the Japanese cherry blossom. This national event first attracts the Japanese, who come to gather under the trees to admire the gorgeous sakura. Special weather reports track the progress of flowering.

In autumn come the Japanese maple leaves or momiji. Every bit as beautiful as the blossoms, the leaves set Japan aflame with reds and golds.  

In search of nature? The island of Hokkaido is full of green spaces that feel a million miles from the bustle of humanity. A little country air will carry you all the way to the gates of Tokyo - the prefecture of Ibaraki-ken ("ken" meaning "prefecture") lies close to Tokyo but is often neglected by visitors. Why not be a little adventurous and explore? Afterwards, you can discover the non-stop life of Tokyo, before continuing further south to hang out in Osaka or go on an adventure to the iconic Mount Fuji. Further south is Kyushu, with its beaches, hot springs, and its iconic city of Fukuoka.

To travel is to encounter history around every corner. Check out Nagoya, Matsumoto or Himeji castles; visit museums that detail the fight against the ravages of fire; memorials honouring the victims of the second nuclear attack during the Second World War. At Nagasaki, the journey takes on a whole new dimension - a moment of meditation and contemplation is inevitable.

Moving to Japan       

Thinking of moving to Japan? There are several options available to you.

Remember, you don’t need a visa to go to Japan as a tourist. A valid passport is enough. With this, you can stay 3 months (provided that your country of origin allows this).

To travel longer you can opt for the PVT (Work Holiday Permit), which allows you to work and travel in Japan for one year (this is non-renewable), provided you are between 18 and 30 years old. 

You can also turn to the student visa. There’s no age limit for this, and there’s also the possibility of renewing it once. There is one constraint: you must go to a school authorised to sponsor your visa.

Another solution: the work visa, which is perhaps the most difficult to obtain - but nothing is impossible! Here, there are several possibilities. You could be sponsored by your company and therefore work in Japan. You could find a job in Japan from your own country of residence before travelling. Or, you could find a job in Japan on arrival with a PVT (see above) or student visa. 

The Japanese abroad

The Japanese community abroad can mainly be found in Brazil and the United States. Today, about 1.9 million people in Brazil are of Japanese origin. In the United States, the Japanese make up the third Asian community and are found mainly in California, Illinois, Hawaii, New York and Washington State. 

Quick Information

Capital : Tokyo
Official Languages : Japanese
Currency : Yen
Area : 377835 Km2
Population : 127288000
Calling Code : +81
Timezone : Asia/Tokyo

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Formalities, Visas, Work, Bank. Share your tips or your knowledges about the new country where you chose to live, or about your own country.