Student life in Tokyo

student life in Tokyo
Wiennat M /
Updated 2019-04-03 07:36

Let's dive into Japan, student version. Are you entitled to special discounts, student housing, etc.? Even in Tokyo, there are a number of ways to spend less and enjoy the best of our student life.

Finding student accommodation

Are you a student in Tokyo and looking for a place to stay? While the cost of living in the capital city remains quite high, there are solutions that can help you significantly reduce your expenses. Below we expand some of the tips given in the article Accommodation in Tokyo.

The campus

Living on the campus is probably one of the best ways to study in ideal conditions. Many universities have developed residences and other student-only campuses that are concerned with the well-being of their students (local and international students) who are already stressed up (school pressure, finance, etc.). Universities are not limited to studies. Many have set up help and support services, and information desks, to relieve the burden of international students. Universities of Todai, Hitotsubashi, and TMDU (Tokyo Medical and Dental University) each have their own campuses. Feel free to contact the chosen university directly.


Another option, which has the benefit of re-creating a family unit provided that both parties get well along quickly, the foster family can be an interesting choice. These accommodation prices vary and are sometimes even more attractive than those of sharehouses since food-related expenses are included. For example, homestay in Japan involves an average rent of 76,000¥ for a three- to six-month stay. This represents the monthly rent in a sharehouse of good standing or a low-cost apartment.

Homestay's main drawback, however, is the uncertainty of the place you will be staying at. Poor relationships can negatively impact your education. Similarly, you will have to comply with the rules of the house (regarding outings, etc.). Take the time to discuss with your foster family to clarify any situation


It's a very cost-effective solution given the housing supply. Agencies offering rooms and other apartments are not reserved for employees only. Tourists, Working Holiday Visa holders, students, etc. all end up in these competitively priced units. Here, students can even benefit from a reduced fare if they choose a rental agency that has partnered with their school. Note that these accommodations are not only favoured by foreigners. Japanese also rent in sharehouse. It is a unique opportunity for you to create contacts and practice the language.

Rates for sharehouses and guesthouses vary according to their location, the size of the accommodation, facilities available on the spot, etc. Again, take the time to think about it: a low-cost room which is very far away from your school may not be the best solution. The money you are trying to save will be spent on transportation which turns out even more costly. In short, consider the benefits and limitations before choosing your home.

Social residences

Managed by the same agencies that take care of sharehouses, guesthouses and apartments, social Residences are thought of as great families. Often of large size (more than fifty or even one hundred rooms), they also have more equipment than a classic sharehouse: gym, mini-cinema, pool, workrooms, etc. Rates are often similar to, or even lower than those of conventional residences.

Social Residences aim at creating a relaxed environment, transforming ordinary accommodation into a human adventure. An example is the Social apartment agency which intends to recreate social ties, through its housing facilities. It has developed a series of themes (each social residence has its own): cinema, café etc. The "cinema" residence has its projection room, studios to film or to do rehearsals, a coworking space, nearly everything for artists!

The downside is that these residences are usually far from Tokyo - which is why their rates are attractive. It's a barrier for anyone who doesn't want to spend hours in transport. However, some residences manage to provide a sense of comfort in nearby cities like Saitama and Yokohama, for example. Thus, Wakoshi station (Saitama) is just 30 minutes away from Iidabashi station, the business district. You can also find some social residences in Tokyo (Ikebukuro, for example).


You can also look for an apartment if you want to live alone (you can also opt for a roommate, to reduce the costs). Renting an apartment remains one of the most expensive solutions, although there are discounters like Fontana Tokyo city apartment, which manages to adjust the prices, with apartments of the size of a room (11m², for example). Fontana also offers discounts for students.

Cost of living for students

As mentioned in the article about universities, studying in Japan is expensive. Prices start from around â¬7,000 per year for national and public universities to more than â¬8,000 for private universities and up to â¬40,000 for specific sectors.

While university scholarships can be somewhat relieving, you will also have to be able to cope with daily expenses like rent, food, phone subscription (and education, if you are a non-scholarship student, or if your scholarship does not cover all your school fees), etc. Again, check with your current institution (if you are a student at the time of your application), and with the chosen Japanese university. There are international agreements between universities so you could benefit from it if your institution and the Japanese university have signed one.

Being the capital city, Tokyo has the reputation of being an expensive city. Compared to other nearby cities (Saitama, Yokohama, Chiba, etc.), the prices in Tokyo are indeed higher, but you can still find good deals.

Rather than the konbini (for Convenient-store, supermarket open 24/7), it is better to turn to the supermarket (Suu-paa): brands like My Basket (Mai basuketto), Hanamasa, or Akoru, are much cheaper. Mai basuketto is well established in the capital, with many supermarkets, acting as a neighbourhood grocery store.


Prices indicated below are tax-free. The tax is currently 8%, and it will increase to 10% in October 2019. Currently, 100¥ = 0.80â¬.

Comparatively, on an average, a product sold at these discounters will increase to 140¥ and more than 150¥ at the konbini. It is at these discounters that you will find the famous brand AEON/Topvalu. Thus, you can find 2L of water as from 78¥. Soft drinks (juice and soda, 1.5L) are available for 130¥ on average. Count 88¥ for a smaller bottle. In these shops, spaghetti will be the only type of pasta you will find, at an attractive price: around 120¥ to 160¥ a pack.

Fruits are expensive, besides bananas which are sold by three or four at 100¥. Vegetables, on the other hand, are cheap. Go for seasonal vegetables. For less than 200¥, you can find a large Chinese cabbage (hakusai): these vegetables being sold per unit, and not by weight, it is easy for you to make good savings.

Also, have a look at the 100 yens shop and Daiso stores. These are small (100 yens shop) or large (Daiso) shops in which, unless otherwise stated, everything is sold at 100 ¥ (108¥ with tax). Tableware, stationery, kitchen utensils, socks, snacking, confectionery, these shops sell everything. It is very useful when moving in since you can find essential products there: from toothbrush to brooms, plates, bowls, cutlery, notepad, gum, batteries, headphones, 2L water bottles. In direct competition with discounters on certain products, these 100 yen shops are also present everywhere (but fewer than the Mai basuketto supermarkets).

Student discounts

Fortunately, it's not all about spending money. Being a students also has many benefits.


As a student, you can get a 50% discount on your transport subscription (teikiken). By 'subscribing', it must be understood that the journey starts from your home to your school. Discounts vary according to the length of the route and the companies used. The websites Navitme and Yahoo Japan can help you calculate the cost of your subscription, with the student discount.


Same discount for cyclists. As a student, parking your bike will cost you less.

Cultural activities

Attending a classical music concert, a rock concert, or a sumo competition will cost you less if you are a student. A classical music concert seat sold for 10,000¥ can barely be charged for 1,000¥. For a rock concert, for example, the price is likely to go from 6,000¥ to 3,000¥. For sumo competitions, the discount is lower: just under 1,000¥ on the basic fare.

These rates are given for indicative purposes: they depend on the case, on the agreement or the activity.

To find out all the benefits you can get as a student, don't hesitate to ask your university.

Whether it is professional retraining or the pursuit of a course that you began in your country, living in Japan will be for you a rich adventure and a human and social experience. Universities are doing whatever they can to facilitate exchanges and allow the successful integration of international students. Since Japan also thinks macroeconomics: in a country where the number of births is decreasing and where the population is ageing, international students have great potential. Economic sectors, already under stress, are calling on more and more foreign talents. This approach should boost your motivation.

Useful links:

Tokyo Sharehouse
OAK house
Tokyo stay

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