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There’s so many different schools in Japan for foreigners and it can be daunting if you don’t know where to look! There are many different types of schools in with a large variety of options, budgets, and interests. There’s a school for you out there and if you have financial concerns, check out my other relevant articles on how to save up for Japan, cost of living, and how to get a part time job! What I’ll be focusing on is school options that need a student visa because most countries can get into Japan on a 90 day tourist visa. Note that there are plenty of cultural activity and language schools that have short term options for that time frame, but you cannot work on a tourist visa! A lot of countries that are basically not the United States can get a Working Holiday visa, which is pretty handy (not for me though!).
Cultural Activity Schools
Cultural activity schools are a fun alternative to language school if you have already mastered enough of the language or want to specialize in something like Judo, Ikebana, or tea ceremony. Along with not being able to work on a tourist visa, you also are not allowed to work on a cultural activity visa. So while this is a desirable option for someone in a martial art wanting to further their skills or teacher credibility, you pretty much need to save up tuition and cost of living before hand. The visa information is here and GoGoNihon has a fun sushi course, although it doesn’t require a visa.
Language schools are one of the most flexible and affordable options you’ll come across! For most language schools, you are in class for a total of 20 hours a week and there are variable paced studies to choose from. We used Go! Go! Nihon for Andrew’s schooling and it was perfect! There’s countless language schools in Japan and it’s not always the easiest to find and compare all of them, but GGN makes it really easy. They help you with your visa application so there’s no unnecessary mistakes resulting in denial and it’s free. The amount of schools their partnered with is an ever growing list and they lay it all out in a fun, easy to read site. Andrew chose Shibuya Gaigo Gakuin because it’s one of the cheaper and slower paced options, but because you’re in class learning about one language, it’s still a lot to take in. Usually there’s a class for speaking, writing (kanji), reading and grammar, or something along those lines. You can do this for up to two years but because it’s a pre-college visa, that is the max amount of time available.
Technical 2-Year Schools
Tech schools in Japan are similar to the ones in America, focused studies on the area you choose. One good example is the Fukuoka School of Music and Dance located in, you guessed it, Fukuoka! Obviously you have to know enough Japanese, so a lot of language school students will then transfer to a tech school when they’ve mastered the language or maxed out their initial pre-college visa. For those of you who have dreams to work in the anime or game industry, there’s an incredible school in Tokyo that you can get a degree in manga, anime or gaming! This school is actually something I’ve thought very seriously about but it would require me going to 2 years of language school first because I’m hardly N5 level and you have to test in about level N2. From all my research I’ve only ever found that you need a 4 year degree to be able to get a work visa but Micaela, who went to the Fukuoka School of Music, did that and has been living in Japan ever since. There are cases of non-graduates getting a work visa but they are one in a million, or at least that’s what the internet leads me to believe.
Temple University Japan
TUJ is basically the only American University in Japan that you can use FAFSA at, which is a big reason I went. I did a video on the application process on my Youtube but the admissions office requested that I not answer any more questions to “prevent any miscommunication” or mislead anyone. My take away from it is the art program is magnificent and the Japanese program is only for those who are very, very serious about learning Japanese. There is a new dean and I hear some changes are being made, but when I left there was a no partial credit policy that caused a lot of people grief over a missed tantan or two. If you are one of the many people just interested in Japan, major in Communications or Art, or both, as it opens up a lot of different doors in Tokyo. If you have any questions about my experience, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Are you really good at Japanese? Or maybe you’re N3 level and ready to study hard for the EJU exam? Or, maybe you’re not good at Japanese and want a degree in Japan, taught in English. Surely there isn’t such a thing, Kari!? Why yes, yes there is! There’s 3 main colleges that have it, University of Tokyo (aka Todai, probably short for Tokyo Daigaku), Sophia University and Hokkaido University. If you are looking for a more in depth manga/art degree taught in Japanese, there’s Kyoto University of Art and Design. Be warned for your university student visa, you’ll be prompted to show proof of 3 million yen, which is about $26,000-30,000 depending on the exchange rate. You can get permission to work part time (up to 28 hours during school time, 40 hours during vacations) but you still have to show the proof when you’re submitting your visa application, so 4 months before you leave.
I hope this helps you find your school in Japan and I bid you all the good luck and good fortune! I’m personally still saving up to go back to school in Japan but like you, am trying to keep my options open. Maybe we’ll see each other in Tokyo, ne?