Japan is on many people’s bucket lists as a vacation destination. There are many though that see it as a wonderful place to live full time. Just like anywhere in the world you can love it or hate it, it all depends on your outlook and your individual experience. After knowing many people who packed up and moved to Japan in recent years the majority loved every minute of the experience. But for those of you wondering ‘is teaching English in Japan worth it’, this article will shed some light on the topic.
Teaching English in Japan is definitely worth it! It is a fantastic experience both professionally and personally. Moving abroad to work shows great determination & stability in a person. You will have an opportunity of a lifetime to live like a local and dive into Japanese lifestyle, customs and cuisine. There may be a culture shock for some, but it is something you need to embrace with an open mind.
So after doing some research on this topic I noticed many people had a bad experience with an employer or landlord and their time in Japan took a spiral downwards because of negative actions.
As an example if you were working at home in the US and your boss is a jerk and yells at you, would you blame him or America? You blame him, right?
So, why is it when someone has a similar bad experience working abroad they blame the country as a whole, instead of the person that did it?
So keep that in the back of your head as you do your research on Japan, or anywhere you hope to move someday. One person’s bad experience is usually outweighed by 100 people’s amazing experiences (the people having a great time don’t have the time to waste writing long posts about it because they are too busy out there enjoying life).
This article will show the good experiences you can have in the Land of the Rising Sun, and also keep a balanced opinion of the bad things, because let’s face it, something is always bound to go wrong… that’s life!
Why Are There So Many Foreigners Living In Japan?
Japan offers foreigners a very stable job with regular income, a very safe place to live, and an adventure for people looking to get away from home.
As of December 2019, there were 2,933,137 foreigners living in Japan (due to Covid 19 and social distancing, it has been harder to count how many there are in 2020). With this many people flocking to Japan to live it gives us good reason to believe living in Japan is worth it.
Regular Income: Japan follows a very strict code of honour. If you do the work for them, they will make sure you are compensated for it. Otherwise, it would tarnish their reputation in the business. Salaries in Japan are among the highest in Asia, especially for English teachers. Many companies provide accommodation for their staff and include perks like air tickets home and end of year bonuses.
There are, no doubt, some companies out there that will not follow this honourable system. Greed lurks in all corners of the world and Japan is no different, it is up to you to do research and read reviews before joining any company.
Is the Salary in Japan Good or Bad?
Japan offers a very good salary compared to most of its counterparts in Asia (usually the highest in Asia). This is balanced with a higher cost of living. There is much room to have great savings from your time working in Japan. The amount you earn will depend on your level of qualification and experience.
Average Teacher Salary in Japan for Foreigners:
If you were to secure a school which provided accommodation, you could save money in no time!
Pros & Cons Of Working and Living in Japan?
If you are wondering what are the best and worst thing about living in Japan, I hope this will answer some questions.
It’s not home:
Japan and Japanese culture are so distant from Western culture that it’s sometimes like being on another planet, which is an amazing feeling. Every day can be a new adventure and learning experience. If you are bored of doing the same things every day back home then this is the perfect place to come.
Learning the language:
If your goal is to learn Japanese then there really is nowhere better in the world to be. You will pick it up much faster when you have the chance to practice it in everyday scenarios.
Plenty of Jobs:
If you plan to work as an English teacher, you will have more job opportunities than you can handle. As English continues to grow as the main international language of business and tourism, more locals are needing to learn to keep up with their rivals.
If you wish to work outside of teaching then you must be fluent in Japanese to stand a chance against the locals.
If you are fresh out of college and looking for your first job or an experienced person looking for a change in life then you will not be disappointed when you get your paycheck every month.
Safe Place to Live:
For women especially, it is very safe to walk alone at night. Something, unfortunately, many women say they cannot do it in most countries, including their hometowns.
Tokyo was ranked #1 in the world as the safest city to live in! Followed by Osaka in #3. This is a testament to the Japanese government and people for their dedication to respecting themselves and those around them.
Food & Healthy Food:
Japanese cuisine has spread throughout the world. Almost all big cities now have a Japanese restaurant that locals love, so can you imagine how good the real thing is! Even the standard of convenience store food is really high.
Healthy eating is a high priority in Japan. From a young age, kids are thought about healthy diets and their school lunches are among the best in the world. Vegan food is everywhere and deliciously crafted.
Variety of Locations:
Every area of Japan is unique and different in some way. From up in the north in Hokkaido, where it resembles a winter wonderland, to Tokyo’s futuristic, cyberpunk streets, to the lesser-known tropical island of Ishigaki down south.
If you were worried about driving on foreign roads or getting lost then you don’t have to worry as Japan is home to the finest public transport in the world. It is so efficient that if your train runs late and you are late for work they will give you a note to explain it was their fault. However, being late only happens once in a blue moon.
I have had many people tell me they began to appreciate the little things more in life such as politeness, gratitude and never being late for anything (being late in Japan is a massive insult to everyone waiting for you, so be careful)
Need A Qualification:
Japan is the strictest of all Asian countries about having a degree when applying for jobs. So, when asking yourself, “is teaching English in Japan worth it?”, make sure you research if the schools in your preferred area require a degree or not.
If you lack a degree, teaching English in Japan is almost an impossible task.
High Cost of Living:
With great pay comes great rent prices. When compared to places like Vietnam and Cambodia, you see that Japan can sometimes hurt your pocket. You will find that a very small apartment in the city is double the price of a big condo in Vietnam.
It is similar in price to Europe & the US. If you are looking to live on a budget Japan might not be the place for you, but don’t forget your high salary will balance it out.
Most people don’t speak English, this shouldn’t be a big surprise since it’s not their language. So doing every day things like going to the supermarket or getting a taxi can sometimes have its ups and downs. You can, however, live quite normally without ever learning Japanese (most people don’t). I would recommend learning some of the very basics like “thank you” & “sorry”.
As for written Japanese, I do not need to tell you how different it is from English, so having an app that can quickly translate the pictures you take can be very useful.
When you have a term like Karoshi, which literally means ‘death by overwork’, you get a sense that work is taken a bit too seriously in Japan. Most people cannot leave work until their boss does. This largely only applies to locals.
If you were there to work as an English teacher you would not face many of these problems. You will still be required to arrive early every day and not cause any problems.
Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach English in Japan? Yes, you are required to have a TEFL certificate if you plan on teaching English in Japan. You do not need any previous teaching experience to teach but you will need to pass a TEFL course to prepare you for the job and show schools you have completed the course.
Is it easy to teach English in Japan? It will be hard at first but it will become easier over time as with any job. Give yourself 2-3 weeks to adapt to creating lesson plans and handling kids. Once you feel confident in your abilities you will find that it is quite an easy job compared to some, as you’re just teaching your own language.