Study abroad for a semester in


Japan, an archipelago in East Asia, is a country where ancient traditions meet futuristic innovation. It is an enchanting destination for international students, offering world-class education, a rich cultural tapestry, and a safe, clean environment. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo, visiting historic Kyoto, or enjoying the natural beauty of Hokkaido, studying in Japan promises an unforgettable experience. The country’s universities are renowned for their rigorous academic standards and cutting-edge research facilities, providing an ideal environment for intellectual and personal growth.

Japan is best known for

Unique Cultural Experience 🏯: From ancient temples and tea ceremonies to futuristic cities and anime culture, Japan offers a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity that provides a rich cultural experience.

Safe and Efficient Public Transport 🚄: Japan boasts one of the world’s most reliable and efficient public transportation systems, making it easy to explore the country.

Safe and Clean Environment 🌸: Japan is celebrated for its safety, cleanliness, and high standard of living, making it an ideal destination for international students.

Table of contents

1. Visa and Health Insurance 🛂

Embarking on your educational journey to Japan requires securing the appropriate visa and health insurance. These essential steps ensure you comply with legal requirements and have access to necessary healthcare services throughout your stay. Proper documentation and insurance coverage are key to a smooth and safe study abroad experience.

Visa Types

  • Student Visa (Ryugaku Visa): This visa is required for international students enrolled in long-term academic programs (over 90 days) at Japanese institutions, including language schools, universities, and vocational schools. The student visa is typically valid for the duration of the academic program, up to one year, and can be renewed annually.
  • Short-Term Stay Visa: For students attending courses or programs lasting less than 90 days. Valid for the duration of the short-term program, up to 90 days. It cannot be renewed for the same purpose; students must leave and reapply if they wish to extend their stay.
  • Working Holiday Visa: Available for students from certain countries, allowing them to study and work part-time.

Application Process

  1. Apply to Japanese Institutions: Gain acceptance to an accredited institution in Japan.
  2. Receive Certificate of Eligibility (COE): Your institution will apply for a COE on your behalf, which is required for your visa application.
  3. Prepare Documents: Gather necessary documents including your passport, COE, proof of financial means, and health insurance coverage.
  4. Complete Visa Application: Fill out the visa application form accurately.
  5. Submit Application: Submit your application along with the required documents to the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country.
  6. Attend Visa Interview: If required, attend an interview at the embassy or consulate.
  7. Wait for Processing: Visa processing times can vary, so apply well in advance.

Required Documents

  • Proof of Enrollment: Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from your Japanese institution.
  • Financial Proof: Bank statements or proof of financial support showing sufficient funds (approximately ¥1,000,000 per year).
  • Passport: Valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Japan.
  • Visa Application Form: Completed and signed form.
  • Health Insurance: Proof of valid health insurance coverage.
  • Passport Photos: Recent passport-sized photographs.
  • Academic Documents: Transcripts, diplomas, and certificates from previous education.

Application Timeline

Start Early: Begin the application process at least 3-6 months before your intended departure.
Processing Time: Visa processing can take several weeks to months, depending on the country and application volume.
Important Deadlines: Be mindful of university application deadlines and ensure your visa application is timely.

Tips for Success

Complete Documentation: Ensure all your documents are complete and accurately filled out.
Financial Proof: Clearly demonstrate financial stability and sufficient funds.
Interview Preparation: Prepare for potential visa interviews by practicing common questions and answers.
Health Insurance: Secure a visa-compliant health insurance plan early in the process.

Importance of Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Japan. It ensures that students have access to medical care and covers a wide range of health services, from regular doctor visits to emergency care.

Types of Health Insurance

  • National Health Insurance (NHI): All residents, including international students, must enroll in the National Health Insurance program.
    • Cost: Typically around ¥20,000 – ¥30,000 per year, depending on income.
    • Advantages: Comprehensive coverage for a wide range of medical services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescriptions.
    • Limitations: May not cover all medical expenses, particularly those related to advanced treatments and specialized care.
  • Private Health Insurance: Some students opt for private health insurance to supplement NHI coverage.
    • Cost: Varies based on the provider and plan. IMG offers competitive and comprehensive plans.
    • Advantages: More extensive coverage, faster access to services, and flexibility in choosing healthcare providers.
    • Limitations: Generally more expensive than relying solely on NHI.

Country-Specific Requirements

NHI Registration: Upon arrival in Japan, students must register for the National Health Insurance program at their local city office. This registration is crucial for receiving comprehensive healthcare coverage.
Private Health Insurance: Must meet the minimum coverage requirements set by Japanese authorities. Private plans often provide quicker access to healthcare services and more flexibility in choosing providers.

Finding the Best Health Insurance

wearefreemovers has developed a partnership with IMG with the intent of offering you reliable and visa-compliant health insurance for your stay in the Japan.

Choose IMG

IMG is our suggested visa-compliant health insurance for Japan

Or discover other insurance options

Thanks to our Insurance Finder


What happens if my visa application is denied?
If your visa application is denied, you will receive a notice explaining the reasons for the denial. Address the issues mentioned and reapply, or appeal the decision if you believe it was incorrect. Review the reasons for denial carefully and seek guidance from the embassy or consulate if needed.

Can I change my health insurance plan after arriving in Japan?
Yes, you can change your health insurance plan after arriving in Japan. Ensure the new plan meets the mandatory health insurance requirements for students. Compare different plans to choose one that offers comprehensive coverage and suits your needs.

What should I do if I need medical care and don’t have insurance?
If you require medical care and don’t have insurance, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for all medical services, which can be very expensive. It’s highly recommended to have valid health insurance to avoid these costs. If you find yourself without insurance, contact a health insurance provider immediately to enroll in a plan.

Additional Resources

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO): Provides comprehensive information for international students looking to study in Japan, including visa requirements, application procedures, and living in Japan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan: Offers detailed information on visa types, application processes, and requirements for studying in Japan.

Study in Japan: This website offers comprehensive information on studying in Japan, including available programs, scholarships, and practical advice for international students. It also provides insights into Japanese culture and student life.

2. Cost of Living 💰

Japan is renowned for its high standard of living and efficient services, but it’s also known to be one of the more expensive countries in Asia. Understanding the cost of living is essential for effective budgeting and financial planning. Whether you’re living in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, the cultural heart of Kyoto, or a smaller city, knowing what to expect financially will help you manage your resources wisely.

Detailed Breakdown of Living Expenses

Accommodation: Monthly rent varies based on location and type of housing.
¥30,000 – ¥120,000/month
Food: From groceries to dining out, here’s what to expect.
¥25,000 – ¥50,000/month
Transportation: Getting around Japan is convenient with several options.
¥10,000 – ¥20,000/month
Utilities: Essential services like electricity, water, and internet.¥10,000 – ¥20,000/month
Entertainment and Leisure: Enjoying Japan’s vibrant culture and social life.
¥5,000 – ¥15,000/month
Miscellaneous Expenses: Personal items and services.
¥5,000 – ¥10,000/month

3. Accommodation Options 🏠

Finding suitable accommodation is a key part of your study abroad experience in Japan. The country offers a variety of housing options to fit different needs and budgets, from student dormitories to private apartments. The type of accommodation you choose will significantly impact your experience, so it’s important to consider your preferences and financial situation.

Types of Accommodation

Student Dorms: Typically provided by universities, offering convenience and a vibrant social scene.
Price: ¥20,000 – ¥60,000/month
Shared Apartments (Share Houses): Sharing an apartment with other students is a popular and cost-effective choice.
Price: ¥30,000 – ¥70,000/month
Private Apartments: Renting your own place offers privacy and independence.
Price: ¥50,000 – ¥120,000/month
Homestays: Living with a local family provides cultural immersion and a home-like environment.
Price: ¥40,000 – ¥80,000/month
Guesthouses: These are similar to share houses but often cater to a more international crowd.
Price: ¥30,000 – ¥70,000/month

Find accommodation in Japan

Find the best student housing options with our Accommodation Finder

Tips and Resources

Start Early: Begin your search well in advance to secure the best options.
Budget Wisely: Include utilities and internet in your budget when planning for accommodation costs.
Consider Location: Proximity to your university, public transportation, and local amenities is important.
Use Reliable Platforms: Ensure you book through reputable platforms to avoid scams and ensure quality accommodations.

4. University Information 🎓

Choosing the right university is a significant part of your study abroad journey. Japan, home to some of the world’s most innovative and prestigious universities, offers a rich academic environment and a variety of programs to suit your interests.

Find universities in Japan

Try our University Finder and discover the best universities for your needs

5. Further Practical Information 🛠️


Japan’s transportation network is extensive and efficient, making it easy to explore the country and beyond.

Public Transportation 🚆: Most cities have reliable public transport systems, including trains, buses, and subways. Monthly passes range from ¥10,000 to ¥15,000, with student discounts often available. The JR Pass is a great option for long-distance travel.

Bicycles 🚴: Many Japanese cities are bike-friendly, with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs. Biking is a cost-effective and healthy way to navigate urban areas.

Trains 🚄: Japan’s train system, operated by JR and other private companies, connects major cities and regions. High-speed Shinkansen trains are perfect for long-distance travel, while local trains cover shorter distances.

Tips 💡: Always check for student discounts on transportation passes and consider buying a multi-trip pass if available. For intercity travel, booking train tickets in advance can secure the best rates.

Banking and Finances

Managing your finances effectively is crucial for a smooth study abroad experience.

Opening a Bank Account 🏦: Most banks in Japan offer special accounts for students with low or no fees. Popular banks include Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui, and Mizuho.

Documents Required 📑: To open a bank account, you will typically need your passport, proof of enrollment, residence card, and personal seal (hanko).

Currency 💴: The currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen (¥). Having a local bank account helps avoid foreign transaction fees and simplifies everyday transactions.

Tips 💡: Look for student-friendly bank accounts and make use of online banking apps to manage your finances efficiently. Consider using services like for seamless international transactions.

Local Culture and Etiquette

Understanding local customs and social norms will help you integrate smoothly into Japanese society.

Punctuality ⏰: Punctuality is highly valued in Japan. Arriving on time for classes, meetings, and social events is expected.

Greetings 🤝: A bow is a common greeting in Japan, though handshakes are becoming more common in business settings. Always show respect through polite language and gestures.

Mealtimes 🍣: Japanese mealtimes are usually structured, with lunch around 12-1 PM and dinner around 6-8 PM. Sharing food is a common practice, and tipping is not customary in Japan.

Public Behavior 🤫: The Japanese value quietness and order in public spaces. Being loud or disruptive is generally frowned upon, especially on public transportation.

Do you still have doubts?

Book a 1:1 consultancy with us

We would be glad to help you guiding step by step in every application you have to complete or to simply solve your doubts.