Living and working in Japan

So lately I’ve been giving this whole “moving to Japan” thing some serious thought. It’s a big decision to make and there are lots of factors to take into account. But leaving all those little pesky details aside for the moment, I’ve started looking into my different options for moving and working in Japan. Luckily for me, there’s an abundance of ways I can make my way to Japan. Of course there’s the famous JET Programme, which is usually people’s first point of call. But there are other things out there like MEXT, Daiwa scholarships, AEON, Amity and Interac, just to name a few. So which do I choose? 迷う...

  • The Japan Exchange and Teaching programme, or JET, began in 1987 with the primary purpose of increasing mutual understanding between Japan and other foreign nations. As their website clearly puts it: “It aims to promote internationalisation in Japan’s local communities by helping to improve foreign language education and developing international exchange at the community level.” The JET programme also works with local government authorities, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology, and the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which I believe makes it one of the few official government scheme led programmes.  I think it is this support that has made the JET Programme so successful. Today it is one the world’s largest international exchange programme and boasts an excellent reputation. So what would one do in such a programme? Well JET hire assistant language teachers, or ALTs. As an ALT you assist in teaching English in schools all across Japan. You are contracted for a minimum term of one year, but that can be renewed up to four times. You are salaried, and the programme helps you find suitable accommodation. But best of all, your return flight to Japan is also paid for! I know many people who have done the JET program and absolutely loved it. It is one of the best ways to experience Japan in its entirety. For more information on the programme, visit these websites:

JET Programme

JET in the UK

  • MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) offers foreigners the opportunity to study in a Japanese university by granting them a scholarship. This program has been running since 1954. You can apply for a scholarship as a research student, a teacher training student, an undergrad, Japanese studies student or a Young Leader’s Program student. The scholarship includes a return trip to Japan, monthly allowance and of course all school fees are paid for.  Although this sounds very interesting, I have no idea what kind of course I would want to study. Plus I finished university a couple years ago already, so apart from studying Japanese now, I think I’ve kind of fallen out of the rhythm of school. But for more information on MEXT, please visit this website:


  • The Daiwa Foundation also grants scholarships simply known as Daiwa Scholarships. Daiwa advertises it as “a 19-month programme of language study, work placement and homestay in Japan”. As a scholar you undertake very intensive Japanese language studies, with the aim of being able to pass level N2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). The Daiwa Foundation will also arrange full-time work placements specific to your future career goals. And a one month homestay experience outside of Tokyo is also arranged to further your understanding of the language and Japanese culture. Daiwa will pay for school fees, return flights and you receive allowance as well. For more information, visit their website:

Daiwa Scholarships

I also found this website that gives a lot of information about studying in Japan. From scholarships, universities to part time work, this site is a great starting point for anyone looking to study there:

Study in Japan



Now AEON, Amity and Interac are slightly different options, in the sense that it’s not supported by the government or a foundation. AEON does appear to offer good support for its employees however. And after having spoken to Haiku Girl who worked for AEON it’s definitely up there on my list.

  • AEON has been around since 1973 and is a corporation that employs ALTs from English speaking countries around the world. You’re contracted for one year, and the company provides you with a furnished apartment, with deposits paid by AEON. And your commuting expenses are also paid for. On arrival to Japan, you spend a week or more on paid training, and receive continuous training all through out your contracted time. However, you do have to pay for your own flight to Japan, and if applying from the UK have to go to New York for an interview. I’ve never been to NY and have always wanted to, so this could be the perfect excuse! So if I don’t get the job, at least hopefully I would have had a good time in The Big Apple 😉 You can find more information on AEON’s website here:


AEON contract stipulations and benefits

  • Interac was founded in 1972, and claims to be Japan’s leading provider of ALTs. As an ALT with Interac you have the possibility of working either in elementary, junior high or high school. However, unlike AEON, Interac doesn’t seem to offer too many benefits. The support system and training you get on arrival seems to be good though, so I’m still keeping an open mind. You can find out more about Interac on their website here:


So, with all this research you can see how I’ve got a lot to think about! There are pros and cons to each of these different lifestyles in Japan. Which will give me the best experience? Which will give me the most support? Which will give me the time I need to explore the country while I’m there as well?! If you are a former (or current) JET, scholar or ALT, please leave your comments below and help me decide! I would love to hear from people that have done anything remotely similar to what I would like to do. Or maybe I’ve missed something and you could enlighten me with new possibilities 😀

Share your comments below! よろしく!





(Feature image source)


5 thoughts on “Living and working in Japan

  1. Glad to hear you’re thinking about all your options. I guess the first decision to make is do you want to teach or study. If you go for the study option, the Daiwa Scholarship probably isn’t for you because (a) you need to be a British citizen and (b) your Japanese is probably a bit too good (it’s for beginners really). I don’t know much about MEXT but can give you some contacts if you have questions.

    As for teaching, it really depends on whether you’d want to be in schools (JET, Interac…) or private language schools (AEON, Berlitz…). It makes quite a difference to your time in Japan, and to how much holiday you have etc. You’ll probably have more free time for travelling etc with JET or Interac, but a more stable income and better teaching opportunities with AEON.

    If you have any questions, you know you can always ask me! 🙂


    1. そうですね…I think I’m more inclined to go there and teach. Because the only studying I would want to do is Japanese, but living there is obviously going to help me improve my Japanese (hopefully!). But I really want to travel, so I’m going to have to look into what’s going to give me the most free time.

      Thanks for the website! I did not know about this at all. Definitely going!!


  2. I lived and taught in Japan for over 10 years and it was a great experience. I started out in the eikaiwa field (conversation schools). Eikaiwa mostly teach conversational English but we were also required to explain grammar and teach grammar to higher level students. The students usually range in age from about 2 years old in kids classes to 90 years old. Typical working hours will fall somewhere in between 10am to 9pm and the classes are usually around 45-50 mins long. The most famous eikaiwa schools are NOVA, ECC, GEOS and AEON.

    After that I moved on to become an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). ALTs mostly work in Elementary and Junior High School as an assistant to the main JTE (Japanese Teacher of English). I recommend teaching in Elementary or JHS with an ALT company as this was the most rewarding experience for me and you get the chance to participate in real school life with real students.

    You can submit your resume and apply for jobs any time as companies are always looking for potential applicants. The biggest recruiting periods for ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) in Japan is November/December for April starts (school year starts in April in Japan) and May/June for September starts. Most of the major companies now recruit overseas, so you can even set up an interview in your home country, which makes the whole process a lot easier.


    1. Thanks for the advice 🙂
      Being able to have an interview where I am now would definitely be a lot easier (and cheaper!) for me. I would hate to go all the way to NY and then not get the job.
      Would you say it’s better to start at an eikaiwa like AEON where they kind of show you the ropes and give you that initial support, or go straight for an ALT position with smaller companies? Because what I like about AEON is they prepare an apartment and help you sort out paper work and all that. Do other ALT companies help you with that?
      But I suppose the downside of an eikaiwa is the long hours…迷う‼


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s