Moving to Japan: Things you should know before you immigrate to Japan

The land of the rising sun has long fascinated many people all around the globe. This great island nation combines traditional Asian history with many Western influences. With its fabulous cuisine, top-notch public transport, astonishing nature and wildlife, Japan has everything that many expats look for. Although there are many benefits of living in this wonderful country, there are lots of things that might need a little getting used to. Therefore we have compiled this handy relocation guide about moving to Japan and everything that comes with it. Join us when we explore all the details when it comes to living in Tokyo, or one of Japan’s other bustling cities.

International removals to Japan with Eurosender

When you are moving to Japan from the USA or any other country, there is a lot coming at you. A language that is completely incomprehensible to most foreigners which boasts not one but three alphabets, the 12-hour a day work mentality and an obsession with karaoke, these are just a few examples of how life is different in Japan. When getting ready for your new adventure, it is possible that you are a bit stressed. Moving to Japan is not a small step, it is a giant leap into another world. So, as with many things in life, it all boils down to the right preparation. With the article below you will be ready to start your new life in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo or any other city in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Moving to Japan entails a lot of preparation. Besides the culture, language and the climate, there are many other things that you will have to figure out. But for now, let’s get started with some basic facts about Japan.

CapitalTokyo is the capital of Japan with almost 14 million inhabitants.
TimezoneIn Japan, there is one time zone: UTC+9
CurrencyJapanese Yen (¥)(JPY)
PopulationJapan has a population of about 126 million people.
How do you call someone from Japan?Japanese
Official languageThere is no official language in Japan but the national language is Japanese.
International dialing code+81
Emergency number119 for emergencies and the fire department, 110 for police.
DrivingOn the left side
TippingNot required, may even be refused.
Unusual factJapan in Japanese means: Land of the rising sun.

When you are relocating from the USA to Japan, or from another country on our crowded planet, you want to settle down as soon as possible. And what makes you feel at home, more than your own belongings? With Eurosender arranging your international removals to Japan, you can be confident that your possessions will arrive safe and sound in the Land of the Rising Sun. With our immense network of logistics companies and our team of experts, we will find you the best and cheapest way to ship your furniture and other household items. Before you know it, Japan has become your home with all the comfort you had back stateside.

Living in Japan

When you move to Japan there is an endless list of things that differ from your home country. We have listed several of the things that caught our eyes regarding living in Japan.

  • Japan is home to the smart toilet. Going to the bathroom will never be the same again once you have been to the loo in Japan.
  • The Japanese associate tattoos with a crime. So, you better think twice before you take off your shirt or roll up your sleeve, as you may get frowned upon.
  • Whether it is in public transport, a restaurant or just a chair at work, you will see people taking naps on all kinds of places. This is completely accepted and is the result of the many hours the Japanese work.
  • Japan is struck by earthquakes all year long. On average there are more than 1.500 of them each year, so there is a big chance you will witness one of them. Don’t worry too much about it but make sure that you know about the safety regulations in case you get hit by one.
  • Most streets in Japan don’t have names and there is only a system of postal codes, which is hard to understand for outsiders. So, make sure that you have a good sat-nav on your phone!

Visa Regulations for Japan

For people who want to go to Japan for merely visiting the country, a short term visa will be sufficient. These visas can be divided into two groups.

  • Citizens of countries with a visa waiver programme regarding Japan, of which there are approximately 70, only need a valid passport for a visit of up to 90 days. After that, you can renew your stay for another 90 days.
  • Citizens of countries without a visa waiver programme, need to apply for a short stay visa, which can be granted with a maximum of six months.

When you plan to stay a longer period of time in Japan, you will have to apply for a long term visa and a work permit. Again there are two variants.

  • Point system: When you are a skilled worker (for example in the field of engineering, business or research) you can collect points for your skills and diplomas. When you have a score of 70 points or more, you qualify for a skilled worker’s visa. When you don’t apply for this, go to the next option.
  • Regular system: There are several different kinds of visas in this group: Among others, they include: Diplomatic visa, study visa, family reunification visa and so on. Besides these visas, there are also work visas for a number of professions, including for example journalists, professor or entertainer.

Japan has long been reluctant to admit immigrants to its territory. However, with the ageing population, there has been a slight shift in policy. To keep the economy at full speed, Japan needs migrant workers. So, keep an eye on the Japanese visa regulations, they might ease up in the near future.



Healthcare in Japan

Japanese healthcare is recognized for being of very high quality. There are 3 types of public healthcare in Japan. They depend on the age and type of employment and in short, they can be divided like this. Also, they apply to all citizens and long-time residents.

  • Healthcare insurance for employees of large companies.
  • Healthcare insurance for employees of small and medium companies.
  • Healthcare insurance for self-employed people and people who are unemployed.

Some other things that you will have to keep in mind when it comes to healthcare in Japan.

  • The fees for healthcare insurance are automatically withdrawn from your salary.
  • Depending on the insurance company and the treating facility, you pay straight away and get reimbursed later, or there could be direct bill form the hospital to the insurance company. Always check what applies to your situation.
  • When you need to visit a doctor, it is recommended to take an interpreter with you, due to the language barrier.
  • Check your insurance policy carefully. Not everything is covered by the public healthcare insurance (for example vaccinations and pregnancy care). When you want to have this covered as well, you can turn to private healthcare insurance.

School and education

The biggest problem for expats is the language barrier when it comes to schooling. That is why public school is often not an option, as all education there is strictly in Japanese.
When your child is at the age of preschool, you can opt for a private kindergarten, where they usually teach in English. You can also opt for an English speaking nanny but to find one you will most likely have to ask for help from expats who have already been in Japan for quite some time.
As for further education, you can find out what the school and higher education system looks like in Japan, in the table below.

Elementary school1-6yes
Middle school 7-9yes
High school10-12no
Technical college10-14no
Junior college13-14 or 13-15no
University `13-16no

In the bigger cities, and especially in and around Tokyo, you can find many international schools and other education facilities. When you live more in the Japanese countryside, you may have a hard time to find international education for your offspring.

The job market in Japan

As mentioned before, Japan’s ageing population is causing a decrease in the workforce. Some experts even expect that the population will decrease with 20 million citizens by the year 2050. This is the main reason that Japan has eased visa regulations and it is easier to get a work permit than it was before. However, finding employment in Japan is by no means an easy task. Most expats living in Japan were sent there by their employers. These could be diplomats, journalists or people who were transferred here because they are working for an international company.
So, when you also want to join them, here is some advice for you.

  • When you already work for an international company in your home country, you can try to find out what the possibilities are to be relocated to Japan.
  • Another option is to approach Japanese companies in your country to try and see if they got something in store for you.
  • It may seem obvious but learn Japanese. This will make it much easier to find employment and a positive side effect is that you will feel at home much faster.
  • Internships and voluntary work are a great source for meeting new people. They can be a valuable resource when you are looking for a job in Japan.

Property information

When you like spacious apartments with lots of unused space merely for decorative purposes, then Japan might not be for you. Living in Japan means that apartments are small and expensive. On the other hand, the Japanese know this and have adapted to it. They are masters in creating maximum comfort with a limited amount of square meters/feet. To help you get started, here are a few things to pay attention to.

  • You will have to save up when you want to rent an apartment long term as there are many things you will have to pay. The advance payment can be up to six months rent.
  • When you are looking for short-time rent, it is best to contact a rental agency. They will come up with a number of options and you decide what is the best option for you and your budget.
  • With the high prices for real estate, it is a budget-friendly option to share an apartment with other people.
  • Japanese apartments often lack decent insulation. So, take a bunch of blankets with you or have an electric heater in your room to avoid cold nights.
  • Don’t sign a rental agreement that is only in Japanese (unless you speak Japanese of course). Always ask for a translation before you sign anything.
  • Utility bills are not included in the rent price.
  • Maybe you have never heard of key money but this is common in Japan. It is a one-time payment to your new landlord as a token of thanks.

Cost of moving to Japan

When you are looking for the answer to the question: How much is shipping from the USA to Japan? You came to the right place. Eurosender helps you find the cheapest way to move furniture to Japan. And the furniture is not all, we can provide you with the complete removal of your whole inventory and everything that comes with it. Your cost of moving house to Japan will drastically decrease once you start using the services of Eurosender. It doesn’t matter if you want to ship just a number of suitcases, a bunch of pallets or even something that doesn’t qualify for standard shipment, with Eurosender you can be assured that your goods will travel under the best and cheapest conditions imaginable. Still, have questions about the average moving costs to Japan? Contact our experienced logistics experts, they will be glad to answer all your questions.

Cost of living in Japan

As we told you before, housing is expensive in Japan and will most likely take a big bite out of your salary. Add to that your medical insurance, cost of commuting, food and clothing expenses and it is very well possible that you burn through your budget in no time. That is why we have made a short list of things you can do to save money while residing in Japan. With the available budget, you can go out and travel, save up for retirement or buy yourself a new Japanese car.

  • Travelling by car is rather expensive as most roads in Japan are toll roads. A good and cheap alternative is Japanese public transport. Having a good name when it comes to safety and punctuality, it is also budget-friendly. When you are making long trips all around the country, you should consider a Japan Rail Pass, which will save you loads of money compared to single tickets.
  • There are so-called 100-Yen shops. In this type of shop, you can find anything from a cheap meal to toiletries to anything that you might need in your household.
  • When travelling in Japan, you can save money on accommodation by using Couchsurfing, staying in hostels or using your credit card points to pay for your stay. Keep in mind that for now AirBnB is prohibited in Japan.
  • From 11 PM till 7 AM electricity is cheaper than in the daytime. So, do all your washing and charging in the evening to save a quick buck.

Driving in Japan

You can drive in Japan when you have an International Driving Permit (IDP), for a period of maximum one year. After that, you will have to leave the country for three consecutive months before you can drive again with your IDP. You can obtain an IDP at your local driving authority in your home country, usually for about $20-25. Let’s check some other information which might come in handy when you are relocating to Japan.

  • Home to car companies such as Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Daihatsu, Mazda, Honda and Suzuki, you will notice that both new and used cars are relatively inexpensive.
  • When you are a car owner in Japan, be aware that your car has to undergo a safety inspection every two or three years.
  • When buying a car, one of the requirements is that you have a parking space for your vehicle.
  • Parking in city centres in Japan is an expensive adventure. To save money, you can park your car outside of the centre (where the prices per hour are much lower) and then use public transport to get to the city centre.
  • Though the Japanese language is incomprehensible for most visitors of Japan, the street signs are in general very similar to their counterparts in the rest of the world. However, it is still advisable to check out the street signs you may see in Japan before you start driving.
  • When at the traffic lights, make sure that you pay attention to the many cyclists in Japan.



Other destinations?

Disclaimer: The materials provided in this article were collected from other credible resources to be used for general information purposes only. Given that the legislative basis of the country and its economic development have a changing nature, the information provided in the article could be subject to change. Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up-to-date and correct, Eurosender will not be liable for any inappropriate, incomplete, or inaccurate information. Certain links will lead to websites which are not under control of Eurosender. Thus, Eurosender accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services being not under control of Eurosender.