Japanese courses in Japan are a great opportunity to not only learn the language, but also prepare for further university studies and immigration. A visa can be obtained for two years, and the courses themselves help with exams and paperwork. In addition, courses are relatively cheap — 330 USD per month.

Advantages of language courses in Japan

  • Language study scholarships. This is one of the few countries where you can receive a grant or scholarship to study the language. They are offered by both the universities at which courses take place and large government organizations. For example, you can receive monthly payments of 125 USD for good grades, and some grants fully cover the cost of the course.
  • Large selection. There are more than 600 private schools and 60 universities and colleges where you can study Japanese[1].
  • Work. Long-term students may work in Japan, but not more than 28 hours per week. In addition, many language schools help find part-time jobs and write resumes. There are also career centers at universities and large schools that will select internships and vacancies.
  • Security and medicine. Japan ranks 2nd in the Global Peace Index ranking of the safest countries in Asia. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, ranks 5th among the safest cities in the world[2]. According to the World Health Organization, there are also high food quality standards and excellent medicine[3].

Disadvantages of language courses in Japan

  • Long-term visa. It is difficult to obtain a long-term visa, and registration takes a lot of time. You will need a Certificate of Eligibility, which is issued by the immigration service. The main difficulty is that only a person staying in Japan can apply for it. A language school or university will do this for you, but document verification takes from 3 months. The visa itself is issued for a period of 6 months to 2 years.
  • Few short-term courses. This shortcoming follows from the previous one. The minimum duration for most courses is 6 months. Short-term courses for a tourist visa last up to 3 months, but they are few. There are summer courses lasting 3 weeks, though they have been canceled due to Covid-19.
  • Language. There are few English speakers in Japan — even at language schools. Without minimal knowledge of Japanese, it will be very difficult to navigate the city. It is desirable to master the language at least to a N5 (A1) level. It is quite possible to do this while you are waiting for your visa.

Japanese language course fees

SchoolProgramWeeksTuition fee/weekHomestayLiving in a residenceCities
International Study Institute (ISI)Academic Japanese10+4,354 USD/year

1,065 USD/month

689 USD/monthKyoto, Nagano, Tokyo
Career Japanese10+

4,698 USD/year

General Japanese10+4,260 USD/year
Evening Course of Intensive Business Japanese10+532 USD/10 weeks
Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute (SNG)Weekday Courses1 year5,012 USD/year34 USD/day376 USD/monthTokyo
Saturday Japanese courses3 months426 USD/course
Summer Course31,253 USD/course
Preparation Classes10+157 USD/10 lessons
Evening Classes3 months

219 USD/10 lessons

Private Japanese LessonsIndividual44 USD/lesson
Kanji Course1+USD/lesson
ABK COLLEGE1 Year Course1-2 years

4,510 USD/course

-157-439 USD/monthTokyo

1 Year
3 months

5,481 USD/course
1 Year
6 months
1 Year
9 months
7,423 USD/course
2 Years Course8,394 USD/course
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Types of language courses in Japan

Type of programIntensity?GroupMin. language levelAvg. monthly cost
General Japanese15-2515-20Beginner345 USD
Academic Japanese15-248-20Beginner4,354 USD/year
Evening Course4-1015-20Beginner626 USD/10 weeks
Business Japanese15-2010-15Upper-Intermediate113 USD
Summer / Winter Course2015-20Beginner1,253 USD/3 weeks
PrivateIndividual1Beginner38 USD/hour
Exam JLPT, EJU256-12Intermediate188 USD
Japanese Conversation Course2012-20Intermediate564 USD
Japanese Culture10-258-20Beginner965 USD
Preparatory Course15-2515-20Pre -Intermediate4,385 USD/year

General Japanese — standard and intensive courses. At the elementary level, students learn the alphabet (hiragana and katakana), the first 80 characters, and simple colloquial expressions. Grammar and four types of speech activity are mastered next: listening, reading, speaking, writing. The minimum duration is 3 months, but most schools only offer one-year programs.

Academic Japanese — Japanese for academic purposes. Similar to General Japanese courses, but here you can choose electives with more specialized areas. You learn how to write research articles, develop skills that will be useful when passing exams and interviews, and receive advice on admission to the best Japanese universities.

Business / Career Japanese — a course that teaches the polite style and vocabulary of business Japanese. Only available for advanced language levels. Students learn how to make presentations, participate in meetings, pass interviews, and write resumes.

Evening Course courses that can be combined with work or tourism. They are conducted from 18:30 to 21:00.

Summer / Winter Course perhaps the shortest courses available, lasting no longer than 3 weeks. They are distinguished by an emphasis on the cultural entertainment of Japan. Students attend tea ceremonies, participate in sumo, and travel to different prefectures of the country.

Private — the content of the curriculum, intensity, and duration are selected taking into account the language level and goals of the client.

Exam JLPT, EJU — preparatory courses for the official language exams in Japan. EJU is the entrance test for university admission, and JLPT is a more general examination to determine language levels for consulates and employment.

Japanese Conversation Course — conversational skill training. It will save time if you are not interested in grammar, writing, and reading hieroglyphs.

Japanese Culture — studies concerning the language and culture of Japan. There are many options: drawing manga, holding tea ceremonies, cooking Japanese cuisine, or traveling around the country.

University courses

Courses at Japanese universities are not diverse, but very common. There are at least 60 universities and colleges where you can study the language. They mainly offer general and academic Japanese courses ranging from 12 to 24 weeks.

Preparatory Courses deserve special attention. These are a Japanese analogue of the Foundation program, which is chosen by future applicants. These courses not only cover Japanese, but allow students to attend lectures and seminars in the chosen specialty at the university.

In addition, these courses are often chosen by applicants who lack the necessary academic knowledge. In Japan, students go to school for 12 years, while other countries may only require 11 years. The missing year can be "scored" during the preparatory course. It lasts an average of 12-18 months and costs between 4,072 USD and 7,517 USD.

Features of admission to Japanese language schools

It is advisable to plan admission six months to a year before the start of classes. In Japan, obtaining a visa is a rather lengthy process.

First, you need to decide on the city and school. Then, choose a course and its duration. The type of visa and further admission directly depend on this.

For courses of less than 3 months, you need to obtain a short-term visa. To do so, you must pay for the course, receive an invitation by mail, and bring it to the embassy along with other documents.

If the chosen course lasts longer than 6 months, a student visa is required. You will need a certificate of residence status — Certificate of Eligibility (COE). An application and copies of your documents are submitted to the immigration service by the school.

After admission and issuance of the COE certificate, you need to pay for your studies and pass an entrance test for knowledge of Japanese, after which you will be assigned to a group according to your language level. After that, you can start preparing documents for a visa.

It is worth taking care of accommodation in advance. You can choose one of the school options or book your own accommodation several months in advance.

We also recommend that you learn about the conditions concerning returns. Guaranteed expenses are compensated in case of a COE certificate or visa refusal. In other cases, the conditions may differ depending on the school.

Taking language courses in Japan

Long-term courses lasting from 6 months to 2 years are most common. This is due to the peculiarities of obtaining a visa.

Recruitment for most long-term courses is held no more than four times a year: in April, July, October, and January. For short-term courses, admission is possible at the beginning of each month. Summer courses usually take place in July and August. At some schools, it is possible to enroll in a group in which classes are already underway, but only if there are vacant spots available.

There is an age threshold for long-term courses — at least 17-18 years old and preferably 11 grades of school. Children from 15 years old can study in short-term programs at some schools, and there is a younger group available for summer courses — 12-14 years old.

It will be especially difficult to get by in Japan with a beginner level, given that there are few English speakers in Japan. Is it worth learning at least hiragana in advance — it is one of the Japanese alphabets. Without it, it will be impossible to navigate the city and remember the first words.

Lessons are mainly based on a visual method using cards. Teachers speak only Japanese to students, so the first few weeks will be difficult to get used to. Despite the difficulties, language acquisition is effective and relatively fast due to complete immersion in the environment of native speakers.

In Japan, there are scholarships that can pay for language courses. Most often, they are offered by the Ministry of Education (MEXT), the Japanese Language Support Association, and JASSO, an international student support organization. Such scholarships are offered for long-term courses. They can pay from 125 USD per month and sometimes completely cover tuition fees[4].

Upon completion of long-term courses, students receive certificates or diplomas — but only with an attendance of 80% and after successfully passing the exam at an A2 level.

Accommodation options in Japan

Accommodation optionsMealsNumber of people per roomMin. costAvg. cost
Host familyBreakfast + dinner1-2589 USD/month752 USD/month
School residenceBreakfast + dinner1-3157 USD / month407 USD/month
HotelOptional1-2244 USD/week946 USD/week
ApartmentNone1+251 USD/month403 USD/month

Additional expenses

ExpenseAverage cost
Deposit345 USD
Registration fee207 USD
Exam fees81 USD
Medical insurance113 USD/month
Study materials16 USD
Airport transfer26 USD
Summer tuition fee supplement50 USD/week

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Visa for language courses in Japan

Student visa

Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
Embassy of Japan
Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
A student visa is required to study for more than 6 months (but not more than 2 years) at a language school, university, or college. It is formalized in cooperation with the school.

First you need to enroll and pay for your studies. Afterwards, the school will submit an application form to the immigration office for a Certificate of Residence Status (COE) on your behalf. Then, it will send it to you by mail along with an admission letter and permission to work part-time. All of this will need to be taken along with other documents to the Japanese embassy or consulate.

Required documents:

  • Passport
  • 2 completed visa application forms
  • 2 photos
  • Certificate of residence status (COE)
  • COE certificate copy
  • Admission letter
  • Proof of financial solvency (approximately 12,529 USD/year in the bank account)

Depending on the chosen course and school, the list of documents may be different. Additionally, they may request a motivation letter, documents on previous education, and Japanese language level certificates.

Short-term category A visa

Short-term or tourist visas are issued for study purposes with a maximum duration of 90 days. First, you need to enroll at the school and pay for the course. After that, it will send you an admission letter and an invitation, which you will need to bring to the embassy or consulate.

Required documents:

  • Completed application form
  • Invitation letter
  • Admission letter
  • Trip schedule
  • Flight booking confirmation
  • Proof of financial solvency
Working while taking a language course in Japan

Only student visa holders can work up to 28 hours a week. You will also need a work permit, which can be obtained from your local immigration office.

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Most popular language schools in Japan

International Study Institute (ISI)

This is a network of companies that includes five language schools, two colleges, and one university. You can study in Tokyo, Ikebukuro, Harajuku, Kyoto, or Nagano. More than 3000 students from 96 countries study at the school.

ISI regularly hosts sports or food competitions and festivals with Japanese students for cultural exchange. Students are also introduced to Japanese culture. They try on yukata, go to theaters, and even attend sumo classes.

Most of the courses are long term. You can attend for less than 10 weeks. You can study Japanese from scratch in General Japanese, prepare for university studies in Academic Japanese, or master business vocabulary in Career Japanese.

Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute (SNG)

The Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute was founded in 1975. It is located in the student area of ​​Takadanobaba, Tokyo. For over 40 years, the school has been using its own learning style — the Ezoe Method — with the help of special cards and gestures. The school also has an application for smartphones — VLJ — in which students can repeat the material after face-to-face classes and prepare for the next lessons.

SNG has Weekday Japanese Courses general Japanese courses for any language level that take place on weekdays. See also:

  • Preparation courses for the EJU and JLPT exams. They can be taken in addition to the main courses.
  • Kanji is another optional course. It teaches the 111 Japanese characters needed to master the JLPT N3 level.
  • The Summer Course focuses more on entertainment and tourism activities.
  • Business Japanese — for employment and business. It teaches communication in the polite "keigo" style, giving presentations, and participation in meetings.
  • Tourism Business Japanese — business Japanese for polite and professional communication with customers in shops, restaurants, and hotels, as well as advertising presentations and working as a tourist guide.
  • Teacher Training — Japanese teacher training for Ezoe Method teaching.
  • Saturday classes.

Asia Culture Institute (ABK COLLEGE)

ABK College Japanese Language School (Asia Bunka Kaikan) is located in the Bunkyo area of ​​Tokyo. The school has one type of course with a minimum duration of one year, which is suitable for mastering Japanese from a beginner level (N5) to an advanced level (N2). You can study for up to two years — the longer the duration, the lower the cost.

Best cities to learn Japanese


Tokyo, Japan
Number of universities143
Monthly expenses (food + housing)936 USD/month
  • City of universities. The most prestigious universities in Japan are located in Tokyo. In QS’ ranking of the best universities in the world, The University of Tokyo is in 23rd place, Tokyo Institute of Technology is in 56th place, and Keio University is in 201st place.
  • City of the future. A giant metropolis with amazing architecture. Here, skyscrapers coexist with temples, picturesque streets, and rock gardens. 90 kilometers from Tokyo is the famous Fujiyama volcano and a national park open to the public.
  • City of events. During the day, Tokyo boils from the bustle of work, and in the evenings it lights up with neon signs. Numerous festivals, concerts, and celebrations are held here. During the cherry blossom season, it turns into a fairy tale that tourists from all over the world come to see.


Kyoto, Japan
Number of universities32
Monthly expenses (food + housing)553 USD/month
  • City of history. Kyoto was founded over 1200 years ago. This is the former capital of Japan, which has preserved historical buildings with traditional Japanese architecture and landscapes sung by artists of ancient times.
  • City of culture. Kyoto houses 17 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites[5] and over 2000 temples and shrines. It hosts unique events such as Setsubun, the bean-scattering festival, Miyako Odori, the geisha dance, and Gion Matsuri — the famous parade of giant, decorated floats.
  • City of students. Every tenth resident of Kyoto is a university student. There are about 150000 students here — 12000 are foreigners. This figure is even higher than in Tokyo, the capital of Japan.


Sakura, Nagano, Japan
Number of universities3
Monthly expenses (food + housing)595 USD/month
  • City of sports and recreation. Nagano is best known for the 1998 Winter Olympics. At the same time, it is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. The largest mountain range in Japan exists here, in the middle of which there are many ski resorts. If outdoor activities are not your thing, Nagano has 13000 square kilometers of natural parks and over 700 onsen — Japan's famous hot springs.
  • City of harmony. People come here to relax from the bustle of the city. Nagano’s nature is rich in picturesque landscapes, and the air is clean. The locals are friendly and calm. It is easier to practice pronunciation with them, because they do not speak as quickly as the inhabitants of Tokyo and Kyoto. If you get tired of the regularity, you can always visit the more dynamic Kyoto and Tokyo, which are only 1.5 hours away.
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