Student life in Tokyo

students in Tokyo
Updated 2024-04-02 07:46

Let's have a look at expat life in Tokyo from the student's perspective. How to find student accommodation in Tokyo? How to be a smart consumer? Here is an overview of the best places to spend less and make the most of your student life in the Japanese capital city.

Finding student accommodation in Tokyo

If you are studying in Tokyo and looking for accommodation, don't panic. The offer is quite huge. Don't forget to read our article dedicated to accommodation in Tokyo for more information on the different types of accommodation available in Japan.

Student dormitory

This is probably one of the best options for international students in Tokyo. The universities of Todai and Hitotsubashi have their own campus. Make sure to enquire directly at the university you intend to join.

Consider moving into a student dormitory right after you pass the exam and get accepted to the school. Surprisingly, applications for student dormitories are super fast, with some schools starting to accept applications as early as September. Luckily, you can reserve your preferred dormitory temporarily in certain student dormitories. Make sure to check with your school in advance. 

Useful link:

Tokyo dormitory


This is an interesting option if you want to experience the family feel and immerse yourself in the everyday life of a Japanese family. The prices of a homestay in Tokyo are flexible. It may even be more attractive than a sharehouse because the cost of food is included in the price you will pay to your host family. 

For example, the Homestay in Japan website quotes an average rent of 84,000 yen for a stay of 3 to 6 months. This is the same price as a month's stay in a good-quality sharehouse or one month in a low-cost apartment without food.

Sharehouse or guesthouse

It is one of the favorite options of international students in Tokyo, as well as working holidayers in Japan, employees, and travelers. You may benefit from a reduced rate by choosing a rental agency that partners with your school. Sharehouses are not only for foreigners; many Japanese people also stay there.

Rates vary depending on the location, the size of the accommodation, the facilities available on-site, and the standard of living, amongst other things. Take time to think about it. For example, a low-cost room that is very far from your school may not be the best solution. The money you save there will be spent on transportation in Tokyo. Even though you will get a discounted rate as a student, consider the advantages and limitations before choosing your accommodation.

Social residences

Run by the same agencies that manage sharehouses, guesthouses, and apartments, social residences are designed around the idea of large families. They are often quite large, accommodating more than fifty or even one hundred rooms). They have more facilities than a classic sharehouse, which may include gyms, mini-cinemas, billiards, coworking spaces, and more. 

The prices are usually higher than classic sharehouses, especially for a high-standard social residence in Tokyo. You will find cheaper accommodation if you move further away to Fussa, Saitama, or Yokohama. You can easily check vacancies via websites like Oakhouse or Social-apartment.


A common type of housing for university students living alone is an apartment, usually a two- to three-storey building made of wood or light steel. A report by the National Federation of University Cooperatives stated that over half of students living independently choose to reside in apartments due to their affordability compared to other housing options.

Apartments offer a wide selection of choices, allowing students to select one that meets their preferences regarding location, safety, and proximity to amenities. However, potential drawbacks include noise insulation and security concerns, particularly for individuals sensitive to sound or female college students. You carefully evaluate these factors before finalizing your decision on a specific unit.

Cost of living in Tokyo

Tokyo is an expensive city for international students. To help with school fees and living costs, you can apply for university scholarships. If you are an exchange student, check with your school and region. International agreements exist between universities in Tokyo. If your school and the Japanese university have signed one, you may be able to receive benefits.

Finding the best deals in Tokyo

Instead of the konbini (for convenient-store, a 24-hour mini-market), consider supermarkets (suu-paa). My Basket, Seiyu, Maruetsu Petit, Okay Store, and Meat Hanamasa are known for their good prices. My Basket is the most popular in the capital city. “Konbinis”, like 7-Eleven or Lawson, are even more widespread, but their prices are slightly higher.

Consider AEON supermarkets and their discounted brand AEON/Topvalu. Besides, there are the famous 100-yen shops and Daiso stores. You may find fewer products in a 100-yen shop, but Daiso shops are bigger. As their name indicates, 100-yen shops sell almost everything for 100 yen. In Daiso, too, you can find anything at an affordable price.

Student discounts in Tokyo

Fortunately, student life in Tokyo is not all about expensive shopping. As a student, you will benefit from some very interesting deals, from finding accommodation, buying things, going to sports centers to traveling around. 

Transportation in Tokyo

As an international student in Tokyo, you are able to purchase a school transportation pass in Tokyo or a student/commuter railway pass. However, the pass only applies to the trip from your home to your university. Prices vary according to the distance covered and the transportation companies used. The Navitme website calculates the cost of your subscription, including the student discount. Or you can check it directly on the Tokyo Metro website.

When you travel on a JR company's train more than 100 kilometers as a student, you will receive a 20% discount on regular tickets if you show your "Student Discount Certificate". You can obtain this certificate either from the automatic certificate issuing machines or from the counter of your faculty/graduate school.

Useful links:


Student discounts on transportation - University of Tokyo Foundation

The same discount goes for cyclists. Since you're an international student, parking your bike will be less expensive.

Cultural activities in Tokyo

Going to a classical music concert, a rock concert, or a sumo wrestling competition is cheaper for students in Tokyo. For classical music, a ticket sold for 10,000 yen can be charged 10 times less for a student. For a concert, the price is often divided by two. These prices are given as an indication: they depend on the type of concert or cultural activity you plan to attend. For more information on the other discounts available for international students, please contact your university or school.

Useful links:

Tokyo Sharehouse

OAK house


Social apartment 

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