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Guide for expats moving to Japan

Guide for expats moving to Japan

Living in Japan

This is the mystical land of origami, harajuku , sushi, street fashion, technology and so much more. Japan has the reputation of being one of the most expensive destinations, however being an expat can be quite lucrative because it’s easy to negotiate a great package. Japan is one of those places where the clash between old traditions and modern technology is tangible. 


Features on Japan

Holiday Guide to Japan

It's a great place for a summer break due to the fact there is heaps to see and explore. Your taste buds will be taken to new places and you will leave this country calm and relaxed.

The Japanese culture is polite, calm, clean and ever so helpful. Find out some of our top tips if you are visiting Japan this summer holiday and our highlights of Tokyo.

Find out more >>

Ten Delicaies to Try in Japan

Japan is known for more than just Sushi. It is a delectable place to explore for anyone who wants to send their taste buds on an adventure. They have a distinct cuisine yet something to suit even the fussiest of eaters.

So be brave and try something out of your comfort zone.

Find out more >> 

Expat Clubs

Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese
AFWJ, the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese, has over 500 members in Japan and abroad and aims to provide members with friendship, support, mutual help in adapting to Japanese society. It also offers opportunities for social, emotional, educational and professional growth.
Website:  https://afwj.wildapricot.org 
Association for Women in Finance
The Association for Women in Finance (AWF) is a Tokyo-based volunteer organization that aims to provide women in finance a forum in which they can further their professional development, network and exchange information, and meet like-minded women of all nationalities.
Website: www.awftokyo.com
Being A Broad
Started in 1997, Being a Broad has already help thousands of women make the most of their lives in Japan.
Website: www.being-a-broad.com
Canadian Women's Club in Japan
The Canadian Women's Club in Japan (CWCJ) was established in 1970 and is made up of a diverse group of women with a connection to Canada, focusing on friendship and cultural exchange.  CWCJ members gather monthly for various cultural events and to support local and international philanthropic organizations as well as extending this philantropy back to Canada.
Website: www.cwcj.com/contents/home/?language=english
Foreign Executive Women in Japan
Foreign Executive Women (FEW) is a business and social networking organization whose aim is to help foreign women in Japan achieve their full professional and/or personal potential. FEW welcomes foreign women from all professional backgrounds and at all stages of their careers. We focus on networking, career development as well as social and volunteer activities.
Website: www.fewjapan.com
Japan Australia New Zealand Ladies' group
The JANZ Ladies' Group is a friendly and supportive organization for women from Australia and New Zealand presently living in Japan and Japanese women who have lived in either Australia or New Zealand for at least one year, or women who are married to Australian or New Zealand passport holders.
Website: www.janz-ladies.org   
Tokyo American Club
Welcome to Tokyo American Club. Learn about Japanese culture, make new friends, get fit and spend time with your family all at one place. Life made simple just for you.
Website: www.tac-club.org
Yokohama International Women's Club (YIWC)
Yokohama International Women's Club (YIWC) promotes international friendship and cross-cultural understanding through social and related activities, as a non-profit women's organization. The organization was founded in 1929.
College Women's Association of Japan (CWAJ)
An international women's organization with a sixty-year history of promoting education and cross-cultural understanding. Providing scholarships for women with funding from donations and the proceeds from the CWAJ Print Show is a primary objective. Membership in CWAJ provides opportunities for friendship with women from all over the world while learning about Japan and other cultures through monthly luncheons, lectures and special interest groups. Guests are welcome to many activities.
Website: www.cwaj.org

International Schools 

Jingumae International Exchange School
JIES provides a high quality international English language education for children ages 4 to 12.  Classes are timetabled with Japanese lessons which, depending on the ability of the individual, follow Kokugo (Japanese as a Native Language) or JAL (Japanese as an Additional Language).
Curriculum: IB Primary Years Programme
Address: 4-20-12 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Tel: 03 5413 6090
Fax: 03 5413 2020
Email: shibuya@jies.jp
Website: www.jies.jp

ASIJ Japan Source
ASIJ - The American School in Japan (ASIJ) provides an American style education to US, Japanese, Europeans and others who speak English fluently.
Curriculum: American
Address: 1-1-1 Nomizu, Chofu-shi, Tokyo
Tel: 03 5771 4344
Fax: 03 5771 4341
Email: info@asij.ac.jp
Website: www.asij.ac.jp
Tokyo International School
TIS is fully authorized to deliver the prestigious International Baccalaureate’s PYP and MYP. The two programs provide an internationally-recognized education and prepare children for easy transfer to the IB Diploma or other education systems.
Curriculum: Primary Years-IB Diploma
Address: 2-13-6 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 81 3 5484 1160
Website: www.tokyois.com
The British School in Tokyo
The British School in Tokyo (BST) is a truly international co-educational school with over 800 students aged between 3 and 18, located right in the centre of one of the most exciting cities in the world.
Curriculum: British (Nursery-Year 13)
Address: 1-21-18, Shibuya Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03 5467 4321
Fax: 03 5467 4322
Website: www.bst.ac.jp/
KAIS International School
KAIS is a boutique international school located in central Tokyo, and is uniquely designed to give students an education that is international, personalized, and creative. We offer a curriculum that focuses on balancing academia, leadership skills, character-building, and self-discovery. The classroom experience at KAIS is intimate and hands-on. Maintaining a low student-teacher ratio allows us to give each pupil unparalleled care and attention.
Address: 2-7-16 Kami-Osaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5421-0127 (from abroad: 011-81-354-21-0127)
Fax: 03-5421-0127
Email: contact@kaischool.com
Website: www.kaischool.com/
The American School in Japan
ASIJ has a rich and successful history that spans over 100 years and places it among the top international schools in the world. The success of its past students and the educational achievements of its current students are beyond question.
Curriculum: American (Nursery-Grade 12)
Address: 1-1-1 Nomizu, Chofu-shi, Tokyo
Tel: 03 6259 3566
Email: ASIJReportLine@ropesgray.com
Website: www.asij.ac.jp
Canadian International School Tokyo
Canadian International School (CIS) is a private co-educational institution which offers a complete Canadian K-12 program. Canadian-certified teachers conduct classes in English using the same curriculum methods and resources as in schools in Canada.
Curriculum: Canadian K-12
Address: 5-8-20, Kitashinagawa, Shinagawaku, Tokyo
Tel: 03 5793 1392
Email: study@cisjapan.net
Website: cisjapan.net
Nishimachi International School
Curriculum: Kindergarten-Grade 9
Address: 2-14-7 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03 3451 5520
Fax: 03 3456 0197
Email: info@nishimachi.ac.jp
Website:  www.nishimachi.ac.jp/
St. Mary’s International School
St. Mary's International School, founded by the Brothers of Christian Instruction, opened its doors to 60 foreign boys ranging from kindergarten to grade three in 1954. By 1971, the rapid growth of the international community and the demands for quality college-preparatory education in the Tokyo area encouraged the Brothers to move to its current location, a nine-acre site in the Setagaya district, one of Tokyo's rare green residential areas.
Curriculum: International Curriculum
Address: 1-6-19 Seta, Setagaya-ku,Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3709-3411
Fax: +81 3 3707 1950
Website: www.smis.ac.jp
India International School (IISJ)
India International School IISJ is the oldest Indian school in Japan. It offers K-12 education to Indian as well as non-Indian students. The school combines the best of Indian and western education systems and provides unique learning to its students
Curriculum: K-12
Address: 1-20-20 Ojima, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03 5875 5435
Fax: 03 5875 5436
Website: www.iisjapan.com/
Tokyo Children’s Academy
Tokyo Children’s Academy provides a complete learning experience for children who have an insatiable desire to learn, explore, understand and can demonstrate the motivation, and overall readiness for the environment of an accelerated educational program.  At Tokyo Academy we realize that learning is as much a social activity as it is an individual activity, much of what students learn comes from interacting with other people. Thus the nature of the relationships among the people at the school will have a strong influence on students’ learning.
Curriculum: International Curriculum (Primary to Middle School)
Address: 3-15-13 YODA Bldg. 4 floor, Tokyo-to Minato-ku Shiba
Tel: +813-5765-6697
Email: new@tokyochildrensacademy.com
Website: www.tokyochildrensacademy.com
International School of the Sacred Heart
Curriculum: K-12 Curriculum
Address: 4-3-1 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +813 3400 3951
Fax: +813 3400 3496
Email: info@issh.ac.jp
Website: www.issh.ac.jp
The Montessori School of Tokyo
The Montessori School of Tokyo (MST) offers educational opportunities for students unrivalled by any other school in Tokyo. The school’s core values of Confidence, Respect and Compassion, represent the characteristics which we hold dear and which we strive to instill and uphold in our administration, faculty and student body.
Tel: +813 5449 7067
Fax: +813 5449 0087
Email: info@montessorijapan.com
Website: www.montessorijapan.com/
Hiroshima International School
Hiroshima International School offers a broad and balanced curriculum for students aged 3-18. Using educational programmes designed specifically to meet the needs of children in international schools, such as the International Baccalaureate, HIS offers an international curriculum that incorporates best current teaching practices. Our curriculum provides for development of the whole child through an integrated, inquiry-based approach to learning. It recognizes children’s social, physical, emotional, and cultural needs as well as their need to be challenged academically.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: 3-49-1 Kurakake, Asakita- ku, Hiroshima
Tel: +81 82 843 4111
Fax: +81 82 843 6399
Email: info@hiroshima-is.ac.jp
Website: www.hiroshima-is.ac.jp
Hokkaido International School
Hokkaido International School is a private, coeducational day/boarding school offering a Western-style education from pre-school through high school for students of all nationalities. English is the language of instruction. The school has an enrollment of 190, with 90 students in the secondary school and 17 in the graduating class of 2013. Students represent 30 different nationalities. Hokkaido International School was founded in 1958 and is the only accredited international school on the island of Hokkaido.
Curriculum: International Curriculum
Address: 1-55, 5 jo 19 chome, Hiragishi, Toyohira-Ku, Sapporo
Tel: +81 11 816 5000
Fax: +81 11 816 2500
Email: his@his.ac.jp
Website: www.his.ac.jp
Nagoya International School
Set on a park-like campus of approximately 7.5 acres, the Nagoya International School consists of three modern buildings connected by terraces, gardens, and covered walkways, and also includes a Japanese Cultural Center. The Early Learning Center (ELC) building, renovated in the summer of 2004, houses the preschool and kindergarten classes, and is fitted with age appropriate bathroom fixtures, a shower, a kitchen/work area, storage and teacher office space.
Curriculum: American Curriculum
Address: 2686 Minamihara, Nakashidami, Moriyama-ku, Nagoya
Tel: 052 7362025
Email: info@nis.ac.jp
Website: www.nagoyais.jp/nis/index.html
Aichi International School
Aichi International School’s mission is to empower its learners to become global minded citizens who are equipped with the knowledge and integrity to function successfully, responsibly and effectively in an ever-evolving global environment.
Curriculum: 10-Year Education System
Address: Nijigaoka3-4, Meito-ku, Nagoya, Aichi
Tel: 052 788 2255
Email: info@nipais.com
Website: nipais.com
Osaka YMCA International School
The Osaka YMCA International School is fully accredited (PK-6) by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Osaka YMCA International School is authorised as an IB world school to teach the IB Primary Years Program (PYP).
Curriculum: International Curriculum
Address: 6-7-34, Nakatsu, Kita-ku, Osaka
Tel: (0)6 6345 1661
Fax: (0)6 6345 1601
Email: general-inquiry@oyis.org
Website: www.senri.ed.jp

Local News in English

The Asahi Shimbun
The Asahi Shimbun AJW is the English-language digital version of The Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper. AJW stands for “Asia and Japan Watch” to reflect our editorial policy of offering in-depth coverage of China, the Korean Peninsula and the rest of Asia, in addition to extensive coverage of Japanese politics, business and society.
Website: ajw.asahi.com/?ref=asacom
Japan Times
Toshiaki Ogasawara is Chairman and Publisher of The Japan Times, Ltd., which publishes Japan’s oldest English language newspaper. The company was founded in 1897 and is today the country’s only independent English-language newspaper.
Website: www.japantimes.co.jp  
Japan Today
Japan Today, launched in September 2000, is a Tokyo-based online newspaper, featuring all the latest news on Japan and the world, including national, political, entertainment, business, technology and sports news.
Website: www.japantoday.com
The Japan News
See the world, find out what is happening in your community and learn English, all with a subscription to The Japan News.
Website:  the-japan-news.com
News On Japan
News On Japan was established in 1999 and has become a leading portal for Japan-related news in English. Our 24/7 streaming news provides a vital source of information for businesses and travelers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Website: www.newsonjapan.com

Country Information 

Location: Asia
Capital City: Tokyo
Other Important Cities: Kyoto,Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo
Currency: Yen (¥)
Language:  Japanese
Calling Code: +81
Internet TLD: .jp
Electricity: 100V 50Hz
Emergency Numbers:
Country Information
Country Study

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

There are many types of visas depending upon the reason and length of your stay in Japan. For more detailed information, visit www.japan-guide.com
In order to visit Japan, you may need only a valid passport or you may need to apply for a visa become visiting. Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay in Japan for up to 90 days.

Foreigners, who wish to work in Japan, need to apply for an appropriate visa. There are about a dozen types of working visas, each allowing the holder to engage in paid activities only within a defined professional field. For example, there are visas for artists, professors, engineers, instructors and entertainers.

If you change jobs while you are in Japan, you also need to change your status of residence, provided that the new job falls into a different professional field. Most working visas are valid for one or three years and need to be extended before they expire. A prospective employer is needed as sponsor when applying for most types of working visa.

Please contact the Japanese Embassy in your country to ensure you have the correct paperwork to enter the country.

All foreigners, who stay in Japan for more than 90 days, need to apply for an alien registration card within the first 90 days of their stay. Applications can be made at the local municipal office (e.g. city hall). The alien registration card is an important document required for opening a bank account and similar activities. Foreign residents are required to carry their alien registration card with them at all times.

Foreigners, who are married to a holder of a working visa, can apply for a dependent visa. A dependent visa is valid for between three months and three years and needs to beextended before it expires.

Holders of a dependent visa are not allowed to engage in any paid activities, unless they get the permission of the immigration office. Even then, dependent visa holders may work only a set maximum number of hours per week.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs >>


Some of the world's most expensive land can be found in central Tokyo. Consequently, even tiny apartments in the city center are very expensive. However, housing costs are distinctly lower in Tokyo's suburbs, surrounding prefectures and in other regions and cities of Japan. Additional commuting costs are often more than compensated by the savings on the rent, especially as many Japanese companies pay part or all of their employees' commuting expenses.

Apartments are usually rented through real estate agents rather than landlords. Real estate offices can be recognized by listings of available apartments in their show windows. They also advertise on signs in the neighborhood and in various publications.

The rental system of many conventional real estate companies is not very foreigner friendly.

Real estate companies, which specifically target Japan's foreign community, exist mainly in Tokyo and other large metropolitan areas. They offer private and shared apartments for conditions that are much more suitable to the needs of foreigners, and often have staff trained in foreign languages.

For example, they offer rental contracts for much shorter time periods and lower and fewer initial fees than conventional companies. In addition, their apartments are often already furnished, and the cost for utilities may be included in the monthly rent.

Living costs in Japan and especially in Tokyo are famous to be among the world's highest. However, if you live outside of central Tokyo, adjust to a Japanese lifestyle and do not depend too heavily on food and products from your home country, you may be surprised how inexpensive Japan can be. 

Driving License

Japan's large metropolitan areas around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya are served by highly efficient public transportation systems. Consequently, many residents do not own a car or even a driving license. Outside the big cities, however, public transportation tends to be inconvenient, and most people rely on a car.

In Japan, cars drive on the left side of the road and have the driver's seat and steering wheel on the right. The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years. Road signs and rules follow international standards, and most signs on major roads are in Japanese and English.

Foreigners can drive in Japan with a recognized international driving permit for up to one year. Japan recognizes only international driving permits, which are based on the Geneva Convention of 1949.
Some countries have agreements regarding converting foreign driver’s licenses. If you hold a valid driving license from one of these countries, you can get a Japanese license without taking a written or practical exam. All you need to do is go to the local license center with an official translation of your license, take an eye test and prove that, after obtaining your license, you have lived at least three months in the country where your license had been issued.

If you have a driving license from a different country, you will have to take a written and practical exam in order to obtain a Japanese driving license, a process which typically takes several attempts even in case of experienced drivers.
Owning and operating a car is linked with various considerable expenses, including compulsory inspections (shaken) every two to three years, various taxes, mandatory and optional insurance, high parking costs in cities, and expensive toll expressways. A liter of gasoline is very expensive.

Learn more about owning a car and obtaining a driver’s license at  www.Japan-guide.com


There are basically two types of insurance in Japan. One is the National Health Insurance, the other one is Social Insurance. National Health Insurance is for people who don't have a job, or self-employed. The city you reside cover 70% of your medical expense. And your insurance fee is decided based on your previous year's earning.

Social Insurance is provided by your company, and the fee is usually shared between you and your company.


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