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Moving to Japan

Moving to Japan is an incredible experience that promises a vibrant social life, fascinating culture and a thriving economy. The country offers an interesting blend of modern cities and ancient traditions. It’s no surprise that an ever-increasing number of people, including business professionals, students, academics and digital nomads, opt to live in Japan.

As a new resident in the Land of the Rising Sun, you’re sure to love the mouthwatering Japanese cuisine and testing out your Japanese language skills. Whether you’re a working professional, wanting to be with family or an investor, there are various reasons to relocate to Japan. In this guide, you’ll discover reasons to pick Japan as your destination. We also cover the easiest ways to obtain the required immigration paperwork for the first time.

Top Reasons to Move to Japan

You may consider Japan the ideal destination for various reasons, including professional, family and personal motivations. Most people relocate to Japan for the following reasons:

Ease of Starting a New Business

Have you been dreaming about starting a business in Japan? If so, you need to learn more about company registration formalities. The country offers lucrative opportunities in various sectors, including information technology (IT), biotechnology, automotive, health care, retail and other industries.

Japan is home to many independent technology hubs, allowing you to tap into local talent or collaborate in innovative projects. If your business focuses on advanced technology and innovation, you may benefit from Japanese government incentives.

The key point is that incorporation and business licensing processes are straightforward. Thus, you don’t have to worry about endless trips to government offices when setting up a business in Japan, which is a huge bonus. Registering a “kojin jigyo” (sole proprietorship) allows you to operate as an individual without the restrictions associated with other business types.

The registration process for most business types takes between two and four weeks. However, it’s important to note that you can expect the process to take longer if you apply from overseas.

Vibrant Social Life

Japan’s major cities like Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo are a haven for anyone looking for a vibrant social life. They offer many entertainment options to keep you busy. You can look forward to year-round cultural and artistic events, such as Omizutori Festival and the Osaka Festival of the Lights.

As a resident of Japan, you’ll also have unlimited access to the top recreational facilities and famous attractions. These include: Imperial palaces, Recreational parks, Museums, Shrines, Theaters, Temples and theme parks (including Disneyland Tokyo).

Japan’s major cities are ideal places to experience the country’s bustling nightlife. You’ll enjoy mingling with expats and residents in local restaurants, nightclubs and coffee shops. In turn, with such a vibrant scene, you should find it easier to grow your social circle and feel at home in Japan. These social settings can also help you learn a foreign language.

The best part is that Japan’s efficient public transport system enables you to explore these towns and cities at any time of the day.

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Healthy Living

If you’re keen to adopt a healthy lifestyle and enjoy local culinary delights, Japan is a prudent relocation option. The country offers wide-ranging cuisines to spoil yourself. You’ll discover more culinary delights beyond popular dishes like ramen, sushi and sashimi. Examples of must-try dishes include Unagi (grilled eel), tempura and soba (buckwheat noodles). It’s no surprise, therefore, that Japan boasts more Michelin stars (a quality seal of fine dining) than any of its regional peers.

Whether you prefer street food, fine dining in upmarket restaurants or both, the Asian country has something for everyone. With a life expectancy rate of 84 years, Japan is a model country for healthy living. A combination of healthy food, active lifestyles and a quality health care system enable its citizens to enjoy better health.

Japan’s well-equipped public and private health care facilities contribute to low infant mortality rates. Locals also benefit from the universal health insurance program, which receives funding from government subsidies, trade unions and Japanese company contributions.

Japanese people also understand the importance of a healthy diet. Locals consume a variety of fresh staples, including noodles, vegetables, fruits, rice and seafood. They also drink a significant amount of green tea, which comes from ancient Japanese traditions.

Once you move to Japan, you’ll also have an opportunity to get active, such as participating in jogging and Tai Chi in many of the country’s green spaces and parks.

Thriving Economy

As the third-largest economy in the world, Japan provides a lucrative business environment. The manufacturing, electronics and automotive sectors are the bedrock of the local economy. Many expats and foreign-owned businesses are active in industrial hubs like Kanto and Kansai.

You can participate in this market as an investor or employee in Japan’s small, midsize and large enterprises. If you’re seeking employment, you may want to consider settling in cities like Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo. These major centers also provide the ideal environment for experiencing a vibrant social scene.

Japan’s companies regularly hire native English speakers to facilitate interactions with Western businesses. Many expatriates find work in the tourism and service sectors. Depending on your skills, experience and qualifications, you can take advantage of the many job opportunities. Another positive aspect of Japan is that the government is relaxing visa and residence card requirements.

English-teaching jobs are a popular career opportunity for expats coming into the country. Many cities and towns have several language academies and international schools. Tokyo is home to more than 40 accredited international schools.

Low Crime Rate

Japan’s cities and towns provide quite a safe place to live for expats and locals alike. If you’re trying to find a safer relocation destination, Japan is a viable option for you. The country is actually one of the safest globally, thanks to Japanese people’s warm and friendly culture. Local laws prohibit individuals from owning weapons, which helps minimize violent crimes. It’s also common to find many business premises and shops unguarded. Depending on your home country, this can be surprising. Although you should always remain vigilant, you might be able to relax a little on Japanese streets.

The Best Cities to Live in Japan

As you explore your relocation options, you should familiarize yourself with Japan’s cities and towns. The country has 47 prefectures and thousands of islands, so you have many choices to consider when it comes to living in Japan.

Here are cities in Japan worth considering:


This city makes it easier to learn more about Japanese culture and history. It’s home to a wide selection of cultural treasures, including Nishi Honganji Temple, Nijo Castle, traditional inns and the Kyoto National Museum.

Built in 1603, Nijo Castle once served as a local seat of government, and it features wide-ranging works of art, including fine carvings and decorated metalwork. When you visit the castle, you’ll explore its well-preserved towers, walls, pristine gardens and a moat. Its nightingale floors provide a unique, memorable experience. They feature squeaking floorboards, which mimic a nightingale’s chirping.

Opting for Kyoto puts you closer to nature and Japan’s captivating cultural heritage. Most local residential neighborhoods are also close to the city center, reducing your commute time.

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Tokyo is a bustling metropolis with a population of roughly 14 million. It’s a hub for entertainment, Japanese cuisine and culture. Choose Tokyo if you want to live in a fast-paced environment with increased job opportunities for new residents. The city hosts a larger expat population, enabling you to connect with fellow expats and locals alike.

Did you know that karaoke is big in Japan? So, if you love singing, you’re sure to enjoy this popular past-time. Tokyo hosts a wide selection of karaoke bars, such as Uta Hiroba Karaoke Shibuya and the Diamond Bar. You can hang out in the bars with friends, family or workmates as you enjoy Japanese cuisine and music.


As the second-largest Japanese city, Osaka offers a high quality of life. Many expatriates settle in the bustling metropolis due to the lower cost of living, despite the fewer job opportunities. Residents of Osaka consider themselves more laid-back than people in other towns and cities. This metropolitan center boasts an outstanding culinary heritage.

Osaka has many natural attractions, such as Minoo Park and Mount Koya. Located on the outskirts of Osaka, Minoo Park hosts a magnificent waterfall and a hiking trail that runs through a valley. The trail passes by eye-catching temples and colorful foliage.

Also known as Koyasan, Mount Koya is home to several pagodas, temples and shrines built centuries ago. Locals consider the highland valley a sacred place because it’s the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism (Esoteric Buddhism). Countless pilgrims and regular visitors from Japan and around the globe visit the attraction.

Ways to Immigrate to Japan

Legally immigrating to Japan is possible whether you’re a freelancer, business person, academic or investor. The country’s new policies are more open than in many developed nations. For instance, authorities have lifted caps on the number of permanent residents. Additionally, they’ve significantly reduced visa and residence permit processing times.

Understanding the available options makes it easier to acquire visas, including a student visa, tourist visa, working holiday visa, working visa and residence permit. You can either fill the visa application form by yourself or enlist the help of an experienced immigration specialist. Opting to work with an agent can help reduce the hassle of dealing with permit applications.

To identify the right immigration path for you, familiarize yourself with some practical Japanese visa options. Here are some easier ways to immigrate:

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Self-sponsoring your Japan visa is a viable way to qualify for a residence permit as a digital nomad. This approach helps you bypass red tape when applying via the Japanese embassy in the USA or another foreign country.

To obtain a de facto self-sponsored visa, you apply for special permission via the immigration office to work for part-time employers. You can continue employing this method whenever you find a new gig with local employers.

The self-sponsoring option is a workaround solution for freelancers to qualify for a Japan visa. An increasing number of teachers, photographers, and other freelance professionals apply for a working visa.

You need to find a part-time Japanese employer or client who provides the supporting documents for your visa application. The employer must be willing to provide detailed information about the company.

You’ll also need to obtain sole proprietorship registration documents from a local tax office. To register as a sole proprietorship in Japan, you must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Married to a Japanese national
  • Work visa holder
  • Holder of a cultural activities visa, student visa, or dependent visa
  • Work permit holder
  • Holders of a holiday visa

Additional requirements for the working visa include employment contracts and proof of annual income. Check the actual amounts applicable to you via the Japanese embassy or consulate’s website for your country of origin.

You can apply for the visa with or without a certificate of eligibility (COE). Obtaining the certificate beforehand simplifies the visa application process.

Enlist the Help of a Immigration Advisor in Japan

Japan is unique when it comes to seeking legal support. Unless you have turn-key support from your company, or a solid reference, it is likely one of the more difficult countries in terms of actually finding an advisor. Language barriers and simply engaging professional support is a culturally different approach in Japan.

Make informed decisions and dig-deeper into core topics for relocating to Japan. Connecting with qualified, bilingual advisors who can provide tailored advice about your move to Japan may also be a worthwhile exercise.

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