Japan is a popular choice for people who want to experience working and living abroad. And it’s not hard to see why. I have been living Japan for the last two years as a foreign English teacher and I absolutely love it! Moving to the “land of the rising sun” has been one of the best decisions that I’ve made. This wonderful country has so much to offer!
Here are the reasons why Japan is the best country to work and live abroad.
Note: If you are interested in teaching English abroad, check out this comprehensive guide on getting started by Nina from Where in the world is Nina!
It has the kindest People
I learned a traditional Japanese dance from Sendai region called Suzume Odori. This was my awesome team.
Of course every country has nice and not so nice people, but Japan collectively has the nicest people I’ve ever met! A big part of Japanese culture is a value called “omoiyari”, which means being compassionate and considerate towards others. I’ve experienced so many random acts of kindness while living in Japan. A teenager who walked me to my destination when I was lost on the street, an old woman who gave me an umbrella when I was caught in the rain, and so many moments like this that just melted my heart! T_T
It’s very safe
Japan is by far the safest country I’ve ever been in. Did you know that kids walk to school by themselves by grade one of elementary school in Japan? Ya that’s how safe it is. The crime rate is super low here. At the time I’m writing this article, just two days ago, I forgot my wallet and phone at a subway station in Sendai (Typical scattered brain me). I was panicking because I had A LOT of cash and all my IDs in that wallet! And of course my phone is like my life. Totally freaking out, my Japanese friends helped me call the station Lost & Found. And guess what?! Someone found my things and drop them off! Not a single coin was lost from my wallet! Japan, I love you!
It has a rich culture
A traditional Japanese tea ceremony
Japanese culture is so unique and multifaceted. From traditional arts to modern fashion, to food, to anime, to tea, to music, to language, to their way of thinking, it’s a fascinating world to be a part of. There is so much to experience and learn that you can’t possibly do it if you just make a short trip here. The only way is to live here and really immerse yourself. I’ve watched tea ceremonies, learned traditional dancing, participated in festivals…They are all memories I’ll treasure for life.
It’s super convenient
If you’ve already been to Japan, you would have noticed how crazy efficient everything is. The vending machines everywhere (And they work! Unlike the ones in North America grr), the next level convenient stores, the actually on time trains, and the fact that everyone line up for things making life a lot less chaotic. I remember going to the super market for the first time, and saw three types shopping carts! A normal kind, a kind with magnifying glass for the visually impaired, and a mini sized cartoon designed one for kids. How sweet is that?! Totally blew my mind.
It has REALLY delicious food!
Fresh oyster dinner. Matsushima, Japan.
This needs little introduction but Japanese cuisine is just the bomb! I have not come across a restaurant I didn’t like while in Japan. Seriously! (I’m sure some bad ones exist but I haven’t found one yet :P) Sushi is so cheap and delicious here. I think I will forever be disappointed by “Japanese food” after I move back to Canada in the future. So if you like Japanese cuisine, imagine having access to it everyday! 😀
The living expenses are moderate
Despite the bad rep of being expensive, Japan is not that bad at all in terms of living expenses. I live in Sendai, and my monthly rent is 50,000 yen, which less than 500 USD. My friends who live in Tokyo and Osaka (the busiest cities!) pay around 80,000 yen, which is again less than 800 USD. In the case of living in rural areas, the rent is even cheaper and might even be free! Other expenses are reasonable as well. Comparing to living in Toronto, New York, or Sydney, the cost here is chump change honey! (Do people still say chump change?)
It has four seasons!
Kyoto in Autumn.
Let me catch you up on what this means as it’s a bit of an insider joke. When comparing Japan to other countries, Japanese people always like to mention that “Ooh we have four seasons in Japan!” What they mean is that seasons are much more defined in Japan. Every season comes with its own beautiful scenery for appreciation, seasonal traditions, and food practices. Spring is pink everywhere with cherry blossom, summer is lush green, autumn is red, orange and yellow with foliage changing colours, and winter is stunning white with snow. Living in Japan is like living in a postcard, with sceneries that will take your breath away everywhere you go!
There are many holidays
There are 17 national holidays in Japan, even more if you work in the banking sector. That’s a lot of day offs comparing to Canada which only has 11 days. 🙁 Japanese people really love to appreciate things and I really appreciate that. Sports day, Mountain day, Children day, Ocean day, they are all wonderful! So you have plenty of time to rest and travel!
It’s easy to travel around the country
Speaking of traveling, is that the main reason you want to come to Japan? Well, great news! Yes it’s easy to travel around Japan while you live in the country. Japan is not a very big country so it’s very possible to make weekend trips to another prefecture. (That’s where those long weekends would come in handy!) Japan has its own budget airlines like Peach or Vanilla Air, as well as bullet trains and buses. There are so many gorgeous places to see so you can only experience as many as possible if you live here! 😛
Check out some of my favorite off the beaten path places in Japan!
It’s a gateway to the rest of Asia
With those same airlines I mentioned above, you can also trot all over Asia for cheap from Japan. I have been to Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, China, and will be going to Philippines and Singapore soon. Japan has a whole week of holidays in early May called “Golden Week”, which is a good time for international travel (would not advise traveling in the country though. It’s damn busy and pricey during that time). Flying from Tokyo is very convenient. Or in my case, Sendai has its own international airport. Lucky me!
There are many work and live abroad programs to bring you to Japan
As I mentioned, I am currently teaching English in Japan with a program called The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (The JET Programme). JET is a super well-known and well-run program with over 30 years of history. It’s a quite well paid job and I absolutely love how helpful the organization is. As well, there are many other English teaching programs and work abroad opportunities you can find that can bring you to Japan.
For more information on different English Teaching programs in Japan, check out my post Teaching English In Japan – What is the best program?
There is a lot of support for expats
Exploring with my fellow Sendai ALTs.
I’m made some amazing friends from all over the world while living in Japan. There are many expats living here so there is always a community you can turn to if you ever feel lost. You can join local expat groups or Facebook groups. There is a real sense of camaraderie and compassion towards each other as everyone knows the difficulties of navigating in a foreign land. You might just meet some lifelong friends! 😛
Some of my favorite Facebook support groups
Japan Teaching Resources -“JTR aims to share resources and solve teaching-related problems together by pooling together everyone’s experience.”
A great place to go for English teachers. I’ve used this for my work so many times!
Sendai JETS –“A group for past, prospect and current Sendai JETs.”
This is a group for my local city and it’s super awesome. You can find similar groups for your own area as well.
JET Ladies + – “A platform on which people discuss and debate, share resources, tips and experiences for making life as a woman easier in Japan.”
Discuss any topics from trivial (like what brand of tampon is best in Japan) to heavy (like workplace harassment) and these girls got your back! So much support in this group!
Japan is a beautiful country and you will surely have the experience of a life time! If you have any questions about teaching English or living in Japan, always feel free to drop me a comment!