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Move To Japan | British Expat Guide

move to japan

Are you contemplating a transfer to Japan from the UK?

Love sushi? Japan’s most well-known delicacies is simply one of many fantastic issues concerning the Land of the Rising Solar.

A magical mix of historic and trendy, Japan is filled with contradictions that by some means mix collectively to create one thing fantastic –from mystical temples and mysterious geisha to futuristic skyscrapers and much out manga.

The Japanese tradition is completely distinctive, and lots of expats simply can’t resist the temptations of a life in Japan the place life isn’t uninteresting.

Right here’s our information to all the things you’ll want to know in the event you’re a Brit fascinated with relocation to this unimaginable nation.

Have to Ship or Obtain Cash Overseas?

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Minimize out the financial institution fees, get began with TransferWise in the present day.

Japan Visa Necessities for Brits


It’s excellent news should you’re a UK citizen and also you’re solely wanting to remain in Japan for a number of months.

Brits are allowed to enter Japan for as much as 90 days with out making use of for a vacationer visa (your passport will get a visa stamp routinely on entry to the nation) however on uncommon events you might be requested to offer proof of onward journey at passport management.

After the preliminary 90 days is up, it’s attainable to use for an extension visa for a further 90 days, however it will must be utilized for earlier than the unique vacationer visa runs out.


There are two varieties of work visa in Japan: the Working Vacation Visa, and the common work visa.

Japan’s Working Vacation Scheme permits a restricted variety of British residents to enter Japan for as much as a yr on a vacation foundation, and to tackle work throughout that point to complement their journey funds. 

There are 1000 of those visas out there annually, however you have to be a UK resident between the ages of 18 and 30 to be able to qualify.

Japan’s peculiar work visa is a bit more difficult as there are totally different visas for various professions.

Work visas have to be utilized for on the Japanese embassy within the UK earlier than getting into Japan, and you will have to offer a certificates of eligibility out of your Japanese employer (i.e. you could have already got a job lined up) as a part of the appliance course of.

As soon as your work visa is issued you might have three months to enter the nation, after which you’ve got 14 days to register as a short lived resident in your visa to stay legitimate.

Everlasting Residency

In the intervening time in case you are already registered as resident in Japan and have lived and labored there for greater than ten years you’ll be able to apply for everlasting residency, though in case you are registered with a Extremely Expert Skilled work visa that is shortened to only three years.

Likewise, in case you are married to a Japanese nationwide you may also apply for everlasting residency after three years.

Nevertheless for some, turning into a everlasting resident in Japan is about to get an entire lot simpler. As of March 2019 candidates with a number of levels who earn a excessive wage will solely want one yr earlier than they will apply to grow to be residents.

When making use of for everlasting residency your earnings will probably be taken under consideration and should have an effect on the success of your software.

You’ll be required to offer proof that you’ve sufficient means of monetary help, in addition to assembly the minimal earnings threshold which varies relying in your state of affairs.

Additionally, you will have to show that you’ve been paying your taxes, and supply a private reference from a guarantor — both a Japanese nationwide or a everlasting resident.

Means of Life in Japan

Way of life

Japanese individuals work arduous and play exhausting.

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Nearly all of the individuals reside within the vibrant however densely populated cities the place enterprise is king and dealing extra time is predicted.

Workplace staff typically don’t make it residence at night time, as an alternative grabbing a number of hours sleep in one of many many tiny lodge sleeping capsules dotted across the cities or of their automobiles and even simply napping in public locations.

However though the Japanese work ethic could seem excessive, this can be a individuals who additionally like to eat out and get together, and fabulous eating places and karaoke bars abound.

Japanese tradition can also be strongly influenced by western tradition, so that you’ll see loads of acquainted manufacturers and merchandise round.

Deeply rooted conventional values have created a nation of people who find themselves achingly well mannered and useful.

For westerners this will typically result in making errors relating to social interplay. For instance, greetings are accompanied by a bow, of which there are three separate sorts for various events, and you need to gown neatly and conservatively in case you don’t need to offend.

Japanese individuals may be very exhausting to learn, with their actions not essentially reflecting their true ideas and emotions.

Older generations can typically be shy and reserved round foreigners, however the youthful crowd are usually rather more accepting and sometimes nice enjoyable to be round.

Nightlife in Japan might be a number of enjoyable — however anticipate to sing greater than dance as dancing is banned within the majority of internal metropolis nightclubs.

For those who don’t converse any Japanese, communication may be troublesome as English isn’t extensively spoken, so it’s greatest to study as a lot of the lingo as you possibly can.

Many Japanese individuals reside in small flats and eat and sleep on tatami mats on the ground, though lodging within the suburbs and rural areas are extra spacious.

General although the usual of dwelling in Japan is usually excessive and good well being care and academic amenities are in place. It’s also one of many most secure nations on the earth.

Meals is a vital a part of Japanese tradition.

It’s wholesome and various — in addition to scrumptious.

Ramen and sushi are a number of the most well-known meals varieties within the west, however there’s a lot greater than that on supply — if you wish to pattern a variety of various dishes, attempt the last word in Japanese fantastic eating, kaiseki.

moving to japan from uk

This can be a multi course tasting menu comprised of small, seasonally themed dishes crafted with the utmost precision and a spotlight to element in numerous alternative ways.

When you’re confused by your Japanese menu, many eating places have real looking plastic fashions of their meals on show so you’ll be able to work out what it’s that you simply’re ordering prematurely.

The Japanese countryside is breathtakingly lovely, and gives a lot to see and plenty of outside pursuits to take pleasure in.

Nevertheless for some, dwelling in rural areas could be harder than the cities, as English is never spoken and there are even fewer foreigners, which may result in a way of isolation.

Dwelling in Japan as an expat will not be straightforward at occasions, however it might reap large advantages and supply distinctive experiences that may’t be present in some other nation.

Getting Round

Japan is an extended, skinny peninsula of four major islands stretching 1800 miles from one finish to the opposite, and possesses a superb transport infrastructure for getting round.

Practice journey is the quickest and most dependable and environment friendly strategy to journey the nation, with hi-tech trains travelling to most locations together with rural villages.

british expats in japan

Japan Railways (JR) is the primary practice firm, with further personal rail networks providing additional routes in and across the bigger cities.

JR operates the 200 mile an hour bullet practice which providers all four islands.

Though travelling by practice might be costly, there are some good rail passes providing respectable offers to chop down on prices when travelling.

Cities function punctual and efficient underground techniques, with station names marked in English.

Bus providers are additionally properly run, and are a reasonable however a lot slower various to trains when overlaying longer journeys and in addition to succeed in these areas not served by rail, together with extra distant areas and Japan’s many islands.

In the event you’re travelling to Okinawa, there isn’t a actual rail system, so the easiest way to get round is both by bus or by renting a automotive. Within the cities most individuals depend on the underground railway as an alternative of taking the bus, aside from Kyoto. Some smaller cities have tram strains that are straightforward to make use of and sometimes challenge limitless journey day tickets.

Taxis might be discovered throughout Japan and Tokyo may simply win the prize for having the good wanting taxis round. Nevertheless in case you’re in a rural space you’ll have to telephone for a cab somewhat than hailing it on the road – in any other case taxis can be discovered at taxi ranks round stations and airports. All Japanese cabs are metered, however drivers not often converse a lot English so it’s greatest to have the tackle of your vacation spot written down in Japanese to keep away from any confusion.

Driving in Japan

Whereas driving round massive cities in all probability isn’t one of the best plan as a consequence of heavy congestion, having a automotive is a implausible approach to discover areas extra off the crushed monitor.

As with most issues in Japan the roads are wonderful, however utilizing motorways typically incurs heavy tolls which may add to the price of your journey.

Having stated that, smaller roads are free and gasoline is comparatively reasonably priced, so renting a automotive could be a good choice for getting round — notably in the event you’re travelling in a gaggle to unfold the price.

Simply as within the UK automobiles in Japan drive on the left aspect of the street, and renting a automotive is simple so long as you’ve a world driving license along with your UK license.

Climate in Japan

Spring in Japan is from March to Might, and it’s throughout this time that the cherry blossoms are in bloom and there are many outside festivals and picnics.

cost of living in japan

This, coupled with heat climate and little rainfall, is why it is likely one of the hottest occasions to go to.

The autumn months from September to November brings an excellent show of vibrant leaves within the many lovely parks, gardens, and forests. Temperatures begin to drop just a little, being just like spring, however stay nice, and there are numerous outside sporting and cultural occasions which happen making this one other favorite time to go to.

From June to August issues warmth up and the air turns into far more humid, with temperatures hovering means above 30°C. It additionally alerts round four weeks of heavy rainfall and even occasional typhoons.

Japan’s winter from October by way of to February sees a extreme drop in temperature, with snowfall within the north — notably on the island of Hokkaido.

Elsewhere issues get chilly, however stay sunny and dry. Southern Japan enjoys a milder yr spherical local weather than the remainder of the nation.

It’s additionally value noting that Japan is vulnerable to earthquakes, with the final main earthquake being in 2011 which resulted within the Fukushima Catastrophe which induced a devastating tsunami on Japan’s east coast — nevertheless earthquakes of this scale are uncommon, with most being innocent.

Value of Dwelling in Japan

Japan is called being an costly place to stay, however it doesn’t need to be.

Massive cities will all the time value greater than suburban or rural areas, and should you’re savvy you possibly can hold your outgoings to a minimal.

moving to japan

When you’re working in Japan you may also most certainly be incomes a superb wage which may offset your dwelling prices.

Learn on to seek out out extra about what you’ll be able to anticipate to pay as a British expat dwelling in Japan…

Way of life

Supermarkets are wonderful in Japan, however some produce reminiscent of recent fruit and greens or imported items may be costly.

An excellent tip is to attend till simply earlier than the grocery outlets shut as costs are decreased for unsold items making it potential to get some good bargains.

In massive cities like Tokyo, consuming out may be cheaper than cooking at residence and it’s attainable to seek out good offers for eating in eating places and leisure comparable to going to the cinema, karaoke or the theatre.

Alternatively, there are many quick meals eateries and meals courts promoting low cost however tasty dishes resembling ramen. Alcohol together with beer and wine are costlier than within the UK.

Utilities together with web, TV, and electrical energy are additionally expensive, with the typical value for utilities for one individual being slightly below 10,000 yen (£75) a month.

Inside metropolis journey on the underground or bus methods is reasonably priced. Garments, electrical and family items might be simply purchased for costs just like these within the UK.

where to live in japan


Lodging might be the most important expense for expats dwelling in Japan, though rental prices are sometimes allowed for as a part of employment packages by Japanese employers.

There are a wide selection of rental properties to go well with all budgets, however costs differ wildly relying on location.

As you might think about, Tokyo is the costliest place to reside, with rental prices being just like these of London.

Check out this video for extra info:

Outdoors of Tokyo and different main cities the nationwide common month-to-month lease excluding payments for a single room 20 to 40 sq. metre house is between 50,000 and 70,000 yen, which is round £360 to £500.

Dwelling outdoors the primary cities is way extra reasonably priced in the event you can deal with the every day commute.


So long as you’re staying in Japan with a resident or work visa, you’re entitled to public healthcare.

The Japanese healthcare system is superb, and relying in your state of affairs you’ll both be coated by Social Well being Insurance coverage (in case you are employed by a Japanese employer who provides medical insurance as a part of the package deal) or Nationwide Well being Insurance coverage.

If you’ll be able to profit from social medical insurance, your employer can pay half of your public healthcare contributions for you, while the remaining half can be deducted out of your wages.

The quantity you pay every month will depend upon how a lot your earn. Within the case of nationwide medical insurance, you’ll pay a contribution based mostly in your present state of affairs, age, and former yr’s revenue.

Each these schemes cowl as much as 70% of medical prices, however you’re solely required to join a majority of these insurance coverage if in case you have been staying in Japan for greater than 1 yr.

Many expats select to join personal healthcare insurance coverage to cowl the 30% of medical prices not coated by public insurance coverage.


On the subject of education, there are a couple of totally different choices out there to expats with youngsters.

The usual of schooling in Japan is extraordinarily excessive, and in case you are intending to remain within the nation for a really lengthy time period, you could need to contemplate enrolling your baby right into a Japanese public or personal faculty.

Classes are primarily taught in Japanese, however English language can also be on the curriculum.

Japanese public main and secondary faculties are free, however there are admission charges for pre-school and better schooling.

Personal faculties in Japan are extremely prestigious, and as such demand fairly excessive yearly charges, however not almost as excessive as worldwide faculties which may value anyplace between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 yen per faculty yr (roughly £11,000 to £18,000).

That stated, worldwide faculties supply a large curriculum taught in English, are multicultural, and supply a particularly excessive commonplace of schooling.

Widespread Areas for Brits


The hub for expats from throughout the globe, Tokyo is the last word trendy metropolis.

move to japan

Japan’s capital metropolis bombards you with life, sounds, smells, and tradition.

Numerous neighbourhoods supply myriad delights, from conventional Japanese theatre, purchasing in glitzy malls or eating in world class eating places, to mysterious lantern lit alleyways, manga museums, vibrant markets, and quirky cocktail bars — this metropolis by no means stops giving.


Steeped in custom, energetic and sometimes ignored, Osaka is infamous for its wonderful delicacies and consuming tradition.

Laid again and pleasant — and noticeably cheaper than Tokyo — Osaka mixes its wealthy cultural heritage with a number of up to date delights together with museums, galleries, theme parks, and fabulously enjoyable nightlife.


Though it’s only a brief hop on the bullet practice from Tokyo, the seaside metropolis of Yokohama has a completely totally different vibe.

Its bohemian environment, leading edge arts scene, craft breweries and bars, leafy gardens and parks, vigorous seafront, and wonderful eating places are simply a number of the explanation why this metropolis is so in style with expats.


Kyoto epitomises what involves thoughts when most individuals consider Japan.

Quintessential picket teahouses, mysterious temples, bewitching Geisha, and beautiful gardens are all to be discovered right here, alongside myriad different points of interest each historic and trendy on this, Japan’s cultural capital.

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Low key but endlessly fascinating, Fukuoka spreads out from the sandy shores of beautiful Hakata Bay in a glittering maze of stylish bars and boutiques, buying malls, and unimaginable eating places.

However this port metropolis can also be wealthy in historical past, and there are additionally an abundance of historic websites, museums, temples, and gardens to discover.


Surrounded by spectacular mountain surroundings, Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido island.

In winter the snowy peaks make for some wonderful snowboarding, and within the hotter months the town comes alive as locals and vacationers alike take advantage of its many festivals, flourishing meals scene, lush parks, and vibrant nightlife.

Jobs in Japan for British Expats

Jobs for expats in Japan often fall into two distinctly totally different classes — unskilled menial labour, or extremely expert and specialised work.

Educating is among the most excessive demand areas — notably English language academics, which is sweet information for certified Brits.

move to japan

There are additionally quite a few massive worldwide firms understanding of the main cities who’re on the lookout for expert staff in particular fields, notably banking and finance, insurance coverage, telecommunications, engineering, and environmental or medical know-how.

Japanese employers anticipate the easiest, so candidates for potential jobs have to show that they’ve the appropriate degree of expertise, qualifications and expertise for the position.

Talking Japanese will naturally offer you an edge over different people.

Unskilled work tends to be inside the vacationer business or manufacturing unit work, and is badly paid.

Are you contemplating a transfer to Japan from the UK?

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