Japan is a country that effortlessly blends tradition and modernity, challenging and reinforcing preconceived ideas. From the smartly dressed commuters on busy trains to the vibrant cafes with graphic tees and nose rings, Japan captivates with its unique cultural juxtapositions. As the ultimate destination for many teachers, Japan offers a rich experience and numerous opportunities. Recently, I had the chance to visit three international schools in Japan, where I spoke with teachers and leaders to gain insights into life there.

How affordable is Japan?

teaching in japan

The affordability of teaching in Japan may surprise many. While there is a common misconception that Japan is an expensive place to live and travel, it is actually more affordable than countries like the US and UK. Enjoying meals, drinks, and events is easier on the wallet. A cup of coffee costs £3-4, and a bowl of ramen in a restaurant can be about £7.50. You can have a fancy meal for two people and pay less than £40. The exceptional food and drink add to the overall experience. Entry to historic landmarks like Osaka Castle is only £3. Although the Japanese Yen has decreased in value in recent years, international school salaries still provide a comfortable lifestyle. Accommodation is often included in contracts, and transportation on trains is convenient and reasonably priced with a ‘Suica’ card that can be downloaded to your Apple Wallet or similar. While Japan may not offer the same expat lifestyle as developing countries in Southeast Asia, it provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture, learn the language, and feel a sense of belonging.

How family-friendly is Japan?

safety for those teaching in Japan

Japan is a family-friendly country, offering a comfortable life and ample opportunities for families. With two incomes, families can enjoy a high quality of life and engage in various activities. The safety of Japan allows children to have a remarkable degree of freedom, providing peace of mind for parents. Human resources departments in international schools in Japan can assist with the transition and ensure that families have the necessary support.

Is Japan best for city-lovers or outdoorsy people?

Outdoor activities in Japan

Whether you prefer city living or outdoor adventures, Japan caters to both. Bustling cities offer a wide range of amenities such as restaurants, art galleries, museums, cafes, cinemas, and theatres. Simultaneously, natural wonders like mountains, lakes, and historic sites are easily accessible to anyone teaching in Japan. Skiing in Japan is renowned, and the country’s cherry blossom season is a sight to behold, attracting crowds of people eager to capture the beauty with their cameras. Like culture? Japan has it in abundance. From the interactive nouveau-art galleries to shogun-era castles and the shrines of Kyoto, teaching in Japan will enable you to experience the richness of experiences on offer. 

How safe is Japan?

Safety for teachers in Japan

Safety is a hallmark of Japan. It is widely regarded as the safest country in the world. Personal experiences, such as finding people’s valuables in unlocked lockers at busy train stations or leaving money on a table in a restaurant without fear of theft, reflect the exceptional safety standards. This level of personal security is a significant relief, particularly for solo travellers and newly arrived international school teachers, and Japan takes pride in maintaining a safe environment.

What is eating and drinking like in Japan?

Cuisine in Japan

Culinary delights abound in Japan, catering to various tastes. From ramen to upscale sushi restaurants, supermarkets, and traditional wooden eateries, the choices are endless. Exploring the local cuisine is a delightful adventure, and there are numerous resources, such as Facebook groups, that provide recommendations for specific dietary needs. Convenient mini-markets like Family Mart, 7/11, and Lawson offer delicious, affordable, and healthy food options, including rice triangles stuffed with marinated beef or pickled plums, bento boxes, and excellent coffee. Even on a budget, one can savour a royal dining experience in Japan.

An unforgettable experience

Teaching in Japan offers a unique blend of cultural immersion, professional growth, and personal fulfilment. The country’s affordability, family-friendly environment, diverse lifestyle options, exceptional safety, and culinary delights make it an enticing choice for educators looking to relocate. Japan creates an unforgettable experience for those who choose to teach in this captivating country.

To find out more about teaching in Japan, click here; to check out our live vacancies in Japan, click here

photo of author
Written by Sophie Peters
Sophie is an educator with nine years of classroom-based experience as a History and Politics teacher, including five years in an international school in Vietnam. She has also worked in training teachers in circumstances with limited resources in both Cambodia and Vietnam. As a former middle leader with experience in both IB and A-level, she has found a particular purpose in working on equity, diversity, and inclusion within education.
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