How to budget to study in Japan

By Tao
Reading Time: 5 minutes

One of the most important things you need for your study abroad experience is money. You need it for rent, tuition, daily life and without meeting the minimum amount required by Japanese immigration, your visa application will not be approved. That’s why knowing how to budget to study in Japan is so important and why you need to start getting your finances sorted well before you apply for your Japanese student visa.

Learn how to budget to study in Japan with the following information and budgeting tips.

Taking japanese yen out of purse

How much to budget to study in Japan

One of the most common questions we get asked is: how much does it cost to study in Japan? There isn’t a straightforward answer since your actual budget and cost of living will depend on several things: 

  • Where you live in Japan (the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka will always be more expensive than living somewhere like Kofu or Fukuoka)  
  • How long you study in Japan for
  • What kind of accommodation you rent
  • Where in the city or town your accommodation is located
  • Whether you have a part-time job while studying
  • Your general lifestyle i.e. if you eat out a lot, buy lots of takeaways, do lots of travel, etc

As a guide, Japanese immigration estimates that one year of full-time study costs about 2 million yen. Therefore as the minimum, we recommend prospective students have at least 1 million yen saved for every 6 months of study that they plan on doing in Japan.

This is meant to cover your school fees, accommodation and living expenses without the additional support of a part-time job. We say “at least” because ideally you will have access to as much more than 1 million yen per 6 months as possible. This is so you can have enough money to not worry about your finances so that you can focus on studying. But it’s also important to have some extra funds in case of an emergency.

How much are school fees?

Your tuition costs will depend on which school you attend, but the average tuition for 6 months is around 450,000 yen. You can find all school fees on our website, under the individual school pages. 

How much is accommodation?

You can get a better idea of approximate accommodation costs through our accommodation page. Simply select the area you’re interested in and you can access links to our housing partner pages.

Depending on your budget and your preferences, you can choose between a private apartment, a room in a share house, the school’s dorm if available, or stay with a host family. The cheapest options are usually share houses and dormitories.

banking book with keyboard

What do you need to prove for your application

In general, applying to study in Japan involves a lot of documentation since you will need to apply for a visa. You can read more about everything you need to know about applying for Japanese student visas here.

You will need to show Japanese immigration proof you have the budget to study in Japan by providing a recent bank statement with at least the equivalent of 1 million yen. Additionally, you must also include a recent tax return, or a recent tax return of your sponsor if you have one. Basically, what is important is that you can prove that you won’t get into financial trouble while you are in Japan.

Our team will help you with this if you apply to study in Japan through Go! Go! Nihon.

Part-time work in Japan

The Japanese student visa allows you to work part-time up to 28 hours a week during your studies. In order to be eligible, you need a part-time work permit. Read more about what the permit is and how to apply for it in our article here

Students often find part-time work in convenience stores, restaurants and as English teachers. The wage will depend on many things, but generally around 1000 yen per hour is a standard part-time pay rate.

Read more about finding part-time jobs in Japan in our article.

person with backpack standing in front of pink paper lanterns

Budgeting tips

How you budget to study in Japan will probably look similar to how you might plan your finances in other areas of your life. Here are some fundamental tips for you:

Plan ahead

Think about what you want to achieve by learning Japanese in Japan. How long do you want to study for? Do you plan to work part-time or do you want to focus entirely on studying? What do you want to do after you finish studying? Do you want to complete tertiary education after language school?

These questions – and more – are important to think about when making a budget for Japan. Read more about how to make a long-term plan for Japan in our article, or read our article on a plan for studying in Japan for six months.

Know the ins and outs of your money

Any good financial plan starts with knowing all the sources of your income and all your expenses. List them all out in a Spreadsheet or Excel document. Include both irregular (e.g. course books) and regular expenses (e.g. groceries, entertainment).

Compare your income to your expenses – if your expenses exceed your income, figure out ways to cut back. Figure out your “needs”(expenses you can’t avoid) versus your “wants” (expenses that you don’t need) and what needs to go.

Set a goal

You now know what Japanese immigraton requires you to show for your finances, so let’s create a goal to work towards based on that requirement.

Consider your income, expenses and existing savings. If you plan to study for a year, how much more money do you need in order to save at least the equivalent of 2 million yen? How much will you realistically be able to save per week? Based on that, calculate approximately how long it will take you to reach your goal. This will help you plan your overall application journey based on our articles above.

Keep your eye on the prize

Saving for something as significant as a study abroad experience can take time – often it will feel like too much time and it will feel difficult at times.

But stick to your budget, remember what your goal is and know that your efforts will pay off in the end. A study abroad experience can be seen as an investment in yourself since it will make you more interesting candidate for jobs if you are able to speak a foreign language. Employers are also starting to value experience living abroad more and more in light of the increasing globalisation.

Budget when you’re in Japan too

Keep your bank account healthy by taking those great money skills with you to Japan. The last thing you want is to be stuck with no money and no way of paying your bills!

Set yourself a realistic monthly budget and look out for student discounts. Be smart with your money but remember to reward yourself from time-to-time too. If you can, set aside a budget for “fun” expenses like going out for dinner with friends, buying gifts or going on weekend trips.

For some tips on how to save money in Japan, read our article on How to Save Money in Japan.

More help on how to budget to study in Japan

Get a better idea of the cost of living in Japan in our article – The Highs and Lows of the Cost of Living in Japan.

We also spoke to a Japanese language student living in Tokyo about her expenses and cost of living. Read that article here.

Don’t want to live in Tokyo? Our article here should help give you insight on other places in Japan to study. You can also take our quiz here.

Follow our blog for helpful articles on life in Japan, Japanese language and more.

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