A guide to the cost of living in Japan as a student

By Tao
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Kvinna som överblickar människor som går på Shibuya-korsningen ovanifrån.

The cost of living in Japan can be incredibly affordable depending on your location, accommodation type, and your lifestyle. While it’s often higher than the rest of Asia in some parts of the country, you may be surprised by how affordable some living expenses can be. 

To better help you understand how much money you might expect to spend while living and studying in Japan, we’ve put together some cost of living examples in this article. Keep in mind these are estimates and averages only.

Infographic of the cost of average monthly rent around Japan in English

Cost of living in Japan by location

Where you choose to study will be one of the top contributors to your cost of living in Japan. Living in the nation’s capital, Tokyo, can be exciting if you like the big city life and there are more job prospects if you want to find work. But the flipside is you’ll be paying more for everyday living expenses like rent and groceries.

Conversely, life in a smaller city like Okayama or Kofu will be much quieter, but you’ll avoid the high cost of living found in the larger metropolitan areas. 

Let’s take a look at some average monthly costs, broken down by location. 

**Note these are rough averages only. Prices are always subject to fluctuation, inflation, and individual factors. These include your lifestyle and spending habits, the area of the city you live in, the size of your accommodation, your accommodation provider, and more.

Costs are listed in Japanese Yen.

Location Share house rent Private apartment rent
Utilities Groceries Public transport
Tokyo 65,000 80,000 16,000 45,200 5600
Yokohama 55,000 55,000 14,500  45,200 5600
Osaka 45,000 50,000 14,400 40,700 4200
Nagoya 40,000 53,000 14,300 40,700 4200
Sapporo 38,000 54,000 17,000 34,700 3400
Kobe 45,000 45,000 13,400 40,700 3700
Fukuoka 45,000 58,000 15,100 35,700 3400
Kyoto 55,000 45,000 18,000 40,700 4200
Okayama 40,000 40,000 16,200 37,900 3400
Oita 40,000 40,000 16,500 35,700 3400
Naha 40,000 50,000 15,800 35,700 3400
Kofu 40,000 35,000 14,200 37,200 4300

Infographic of popular food and drink items in Japan in English

Average cost of food, drinks & entertainment

Like other costs in life, the price of food, drinks and entertainment will differ based on location, and the restaurant/cafe/entertainment venue. 

Here are some rough price ranges of what you can expect to pay for popular items.

Convenience store onigiri: 100-200 yen

A 550ml bottle of water: 100-200 yen

Pre-prepared meal bowl from supermarket e.g. soba, udon, pasta, katsudon, etc: 400-600 yen

A bowl of ramen: 800-1500 yen

Kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi: 100-500 yen per dish

Beef bowl from Sukiya (large chain restaurant): 350-1000 yen

Beer at an izakaya: 300-700 yen 

A meal at an izakaya (including drinks): 2000-4000 yen per person

Movie ticket: 1800-1900 yen

Night club entry: Free to 4000 yen

Standard tuition fees and costs

The cost of studying at a language school will depend on where you are studying and how long you’re studying for. Generally, the longer you study for, the more cost effective the fees end up being on average. 

The total costs typically include:

  • The student visa application fee
  • School admission fee
  • Tuition fee
  • Material fees
  • Facility fees

These costs always go directly to the school, not to Go! Go! Nihon if you are applying through our services.

Here are average tuition costs for 12 months of study based on location and the fees charged by our partner schools. 

Tokyo: 834,423 yen

Yokohama: 782,500 yen

Osaka: 808,500 yen

Nagoya: 761,500 yen

Sapporo: 763,000 yen

Kobe: 855,000 yen

Fukuoka: 784,500 yen

Kyoto: 821,500 yen

Okayama: 838,000 yen

Oita: 761,000 yen

Naha: 861,000 yen

Kofu: 720,000 yen

For specific course costs, please visit our language schools page.

person holding Japanese 10,000 yen and 1000 yen bills

Part-time wages

Students can work part-time up to 28 hours a week with a part-time work permit. Wages can vary from employer to employer and there is no national minimum wage amount. Each prefecture decides its own minimum wage based on various local factors. 

For example, the 2023 minimum wage in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area is 1072 yen per hour. In Hokkaido, it’s 920 yen per hour and in Okinawa it’s 853 yen per hour. 

Visit this website for a full table of minimum wages by prefecture.

We recommend students seriously consider their goals in learning Japanese in Japan when thinking about taking on part-time work. The primary purpose of your student visa is to allow you to study in Japan. You must be able to maintain high attendance and good grades, otherwise you may risk having your visa revoked. 

Go! Go! Nihon works with a range of language schools across the spectrum of intensity level, from high intensity (no part-time work recommended), to lower intensity (more time to take on part-time work). Talk to us about your preferences so we can offer the best school for your needs.

Weighing up your options

There are many factors that go into your decision to live and study in Japan, with living costs being just one – but a significant one – of them. Be realistic about your financial situation and study goals when choosing where you want to study, what type of accommodation you want to live in, and the lifestyle you want. 

Also keep in mind that in order to satisfy visa application requirements, applicants should have at least 1 million yen per six months of full-time study. This is the absolute minimum and you should always aim to have as much more than that as possible.

Go! Go! Nihon is always here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us to help get your live and study in Japan journey started.

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