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Why You Should Join the Throngs of International Students Choosing Japan

Japan’s international student enrollments continue to skyrocket. Which begs the question: What’s the fuss about? Read on for a roundup of six reasons why students from all over the world are looking to the “land of the rising sun” for international education opportunities

Jan 25, 2018
  • Student Tips
Why You Should Join the Throngs of International Students Choosing Japan

Japan’s international student enrollments continue to skyrocket, according to the latest figures from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). Not only did foreign enrollments represent a five-year growth trend last year, but they rose a staggering 12 percent from 2016 to 2017 alone with total student international student numbers nearing 270,000.

All of which begs the question: What’s the fuss about? Read on for a roundup of six reasons why students from all over the world are looking to the “land of the rising sun” for international education opportunities.

1. Japan is home to one of the world’s best education systems.

Japan is often celebrated as the best country in Asia for education, but its excellent reputation is not limited to a single continent. A breadth and depth of universities, including five making QS World University’s top 100, make Japan a standout on the international education scene. Factor in the country’s commitment to research and innovation (its universities have produced a whopping 25 Nobel Prize winners!), and it’s hardly a surprise that so many forward-thinking students are choosing Japan.

Options for international students aren’t limited to undergraduate programs and language courses. Programs like the Doctor of Medicine at Hirosaki University or the International University of Japan’s MBA program are open to students from all over the world.

2. Japanese is not THAT hard to learn.

When people think of easy languages, Japanese isn’t usually the first that comes to mind. But, as it turns out, Japanese may not be as hard to learn as most people think it is.

Says Japanese language and culture blog Tofugu writer Hashi, “Japanese can be a tough language to get into. Not because it's a hard language to learn, necessarily, but because there are a bunch of mental barriers and misconceptions...People tend to build up Japanese as an impossible language to learn but, in my experience, Japanese is straightforward and easy to learn.” But you don’t have to take it from him or from us. Rather, take it from the thousands of non-native speakers who complete programs at Japanese institutions with sought-after fluency every year.

You’ll find numerous Japanese language programs and schools throughout the country, but if you’re hoping to pursue a degree program or graduate school in Japan, find a program like the Japanese Language Course at Beppu Mizobe Gakuen College, that offers language-training aimed at preparing international students for university studies and the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

3. The culture is extraordinary.

Japan boasts a unique combination of rich history, dazzling landscapes, and cutting-edge modernity. Given these allures, it’s hardly a surprise that more visitors were drawn to Japan last year than ever before. Looking for more specifics on what makes Japan such a fascinating place to study and live? Check out The Telegraph’s list of “16 reasons why you must visit Japan -- like everyone else is, apparently.”

As a student in Japan, you have the unique opportunity to explore the culture and learn at the same time. Some students head to Japan to earn a specialized degree, like the Master’s in Asia Pacific Studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. Alternately, a Course in Japan Studies, like the one offered by Yamanashi Gakuin University, can give you the chance to learn more about Japanese culture while completing coursework in other subjects. Or choose a program, like the ICT Global bachelor’s at the University of Aizu that combines computer science and engineering with Japanese language and culture courses.

4. Japanese food deserves a category of its own.

Sure, food technically falls under the heading of culture, but we think it merits a category of its own -- especially when we’re talking about Japanese food.

Says Lonely Planet in declaring Japan one of the 10 best countries for food, “If you can wrap your tongue around pronouncing the menu, Japan’s cuisine is a most rewarding mouthful. Most Japanese restaurants concentrate on a specialty cuisine, such as yakitori (skewers of grilled chicken or veg), sushi and sashimi (raw fish), tempura (lightly battered and fried ingredients) and ramen noodle bars. The pinnacle of Japanese cooking, kaiseki (derived as an adjunct to the tea ceremony), combines ingredients, preparation, setting and ceremony over several small courses to distinguish the gentle art of eating.”

Echoes CNN Travel, “Japanese apply the same precision to their food as they do to their engineering. This is the place that spawned tyrannical sushi masters and ramen bullies who make their staff and customers tremble with a glare. You can get a lavish multi-course kaiseki meal that presents the seasons in a spread of visual and culinary poetry. Or grab a seat at a revolving sushi conveyor for a solo feast. Or pick up something random and previously unknown in your gastronomic lexicon from the refrigerated shelves of a convenience store. It's impossible to eat badly in Japan.”

5. It’s one of the safest countries in the world.

Safety is a priority for many international students and their families. Because of this, Japan represents a particularly appealing destination.

Says Conde Nast Traveler in naming Japan as one of the 10 safest countries in the world, “Japan scored 1.408, getting high marks on the peace index for its low number of homicides and little access to weapons. Beyond safety, the country also makes it very easy for travelers to get around, with high-speed and even invisible trains part of a mission to double the number of visitors by 2020.”

6. You’ll enhance your professional marketability.

Generally speaking, today’s employers are increasingly prioritizing candidates with international skills and experiences. Combining Japanese language and culture studies with an internationally oriented degree, like an MA in International Development or International Peace Studies, will give you an invaluable edge. If your goal is to work in Japan, meanwhile, many opportunities await. Universities like Ehime University offer specialized programs that help you train for a career in Japan while you complete our degree.

Not only is the job market booming, but Japanese companies are always looking for bright, skilled, international talent to help them succeed in today’s borderless marketplace. In fact, according to a New York Times article on Japan’s quest to get ahead by hiring more global talent, “Corporate Japan’s appetite to engage more non-Japanese has been soaring, reflecting a growing desire to go global and to add diversity to the workforce.” In fact, many companies even have target quotas for international employees.

Don’t have the specific skill set they’re looking for? You can still land a job, according to Isao Ogake, director of global career and education at job fair organizer Disco. “They hire you based on your potential, including your language skills,” he told the New York Times.

Added Yoshihiro Taguchi, of international student volunteer organization NAP, “Altogether, 90 percent of all college graduates end up with a decent job in Japan. That number would be preposterous in other countries.”

Read more about studying in Japan.

Joanna Hughes


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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