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Traveling in Japan

Are you interested in traveling to Japan for leisure or maybe to expand your horizons through study? Or maybe you'd like a career in another country?

This page lists the ways you can find yourself in Japan as well as some resources that will help you prepare for your trip both before going and for once you’re there.

Scholarships for study

There are many opportunities to study both long- and short-term in Japan. Programs are provided by the U.S. and Japanese governments, universities, and independent programs and various scholarships can help cover travel and living costs. 

  • Study in Japan 

Study in Japan is a site run by the Japan Student Services Organization and approved of by the Japanese government for information. It covers topics from planning your study (e.x. picking schools and scholarships available) to life in Japan and even employment available. It is a great resource in your search for opportunities abroad. 


  • Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship

This scholarship is sponsored by the Japanese Government Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. They have several programs: research for graduate students, training in specialized training colleges, earning undergraduate degrees, and studying Japanese. Applications are done through Japanese embassies. For the Alabama area, our embassy is the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta. More information is available on their site for qualifications, application process, and materials needed. 


  • Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright scholarship is a highly competitive program that sponsors research and job opportunities abroad. The programs aim is to promote cross-cultural connections and expand perspectives over the course of recipient's stays in other countries.

From their site: "During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others' viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think."

If you're looking for a challenge and opportunity for growth, the Fulbright scholarship is a wonderful opportunity to pursue. If you attend a university, check to see if you have a Fulbright advisor to help with the application process. 


  • Boren Scholarship

The Boren scholarship awards money for study abroad and fellowships for research in world regions critical to the U.S.'s interests. Awarded money is based on duration of study. You can receive up to $25,000 for study when studying 25-52 weeks. 

*Note: There is a government service requirement for receiving this scholarship. 


  • Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship is a summer program for intensive language study abroad. It is for current university and college students. 

*Note: For Japanese studies, there is a requirement for previous study of the language. 


  • Gilman Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship provides funds to students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad. The award is $5,000 and is to be used for costs associated with the study abroad. There is an additional scholarship that can be applied for if studying Japanese. The Critical Need Language scholarship awards up to $3,000 for those studying a critical need language abroad. Eligibility for these scholarships requires proof of receipt of a Federal Pell Grant.


There are also many independent study programs. Always do careful research into them before applying to ensure their legitimacy.

If you are in college, you can check with your study abroad office on campus to see if there are any programs through the school. Many times you can earn credits through it to apply to your degree and your school may have specific scholarships available for it. 

Job opportunities 

Here are some opportunities worth checking out if you're interested in working in Japan! Check out the videos for interviews on what it's like finding a job and working there. 

  • JET Program

The JET Program, the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, offers employment for people to work in Japan. It is competitive and is a chance for workers to act as cultural ambassadors of the U.S. to Japan. There are two main positions available through the program: 

Assistant Language Teacher: This makes up over 90% of participants. You are assigned to a school and are under the care of consultants or Japanese teachers of English. 

Coordinator for International Relations: This position makes up about 10% of participants. It requires a high level of language proficiency. The position is involved in internationalization activities and translation/interpretation. 


  • U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan

There are opportunities through the government to work abroad in Japan. From consular work to even nursing opportunities, there may be a position that suits your background. Check out the embassy page for job announcements. 


  • TEFL: Teach English as a Foreign Language

There are many opportunities to teach in Japan. Check out the site below to learn about requirements for teaching and much more. The page offers a comprehensive overview covering certification, life in Japan, salaries, and what to expect in the profession. 


Tips for Travel

Here are some beginning tips for travelling to Japan! Below are videos and useful information to know before and during your trip to Japan. 

  • Tips for your first time 
Arriving in another country is stressful and overwhelming. The video below offers many tips to help ease your arrival in Japan, especially when landing at Narita airport in Tokyo. 

  • Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta

Official government site for travelling to Japan. Here you can find information on visa requirements and more. It's always important to check with the embassy of the country you're travelling to. The consulate of Atlanta services Alabama residents.  


  • Visa

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for short trips to Japan. A trip up to 90 days with a roundtrip ticket will not need a visa. For other types of trips, check the embassy page for more information. 


  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

This is a free service provided by the government for travelers to stay connected and informed. Enrolling alerts the embassies and consulates in the country you're travelling to and allows you to receive important safety information as well as help others get in contact with you in case of emergencies. 


  • Need Help

Fire and emergency services can be contacted at "119". For police specifically, dial "110". There are also koban, police boxes, in Japan which are small neighborhood police stations. They can be found especially near train stations. 
  • Transportation

Japan has fantastic public transportation and walkable cities. Buses and trains are common ways of getting around with taxis being an expensive alternative. It is important to note they stop running at night, so taxis become the only option available at that time. Demand increases during those times thus you must remain mindful of that, especially on weekends. For information on railways, railway pass and train tickets, and other transportation information, visit the site below. 


  • Credit Cards 

Cash is a major form of payment in Japan still, especially in more rural areas. Major stores and restaurants accept credit cards and other forms of contactless payment, but it's good to ensure you have a good amount of cash on hand just in case. You can withdraw cash at convenience stores like 7-11s and post offices . Some tourist areas and hotels may also have international ATMs. Japanese banks may not accept overseas cards, so they may not be a viable option for withdrawals. 
  • Communication 

You can buy SIM cards from the airports (though this may be more expensive) or from phone stores there. There is also the option of eSIMS which can be purchased from websites like an official service provider or services like Airalo. 

Outside of conventional messaging, Line is a popular app for communication with over 95 million users. 

Use of English: Japanese schools typically offer education in English, but that doesn't mean everyone can speak English or do so fluently. It's important to learn some basic phrases and words before going. You can also use tools like translation services available on the phone to facilitate conversation. Google translate offers a good translation app that also has voice recognition abilities and camera utilization so you can snap pictures of menus or signs (though many have English on them) and translate them from Japanese. 


  • Be Considerate of...

When travelling to another country, it's important to research their customs and values and be mindful of the culture to be respectful. Some examples to be considerate of are: 

  • Tattoos: In some spaces like public onsens (hot springs), tattoos are frowned upon due to the association with yakuza, Japanese mafia members. Though attitudes have lightened, some places may not allow you to enter if you have visible tattoos. For onsens, tattoo covers are an option if you wish to experience the relaxation and rejuvenation of a hot spring. Some offer tattoo coverings, but there are options online as well. 
  • Noise on trains: Trains in Japan are typically quiet, so loud conversation or music from your headphones will stick out and bother other passengers. 
  • Priority seats: Another rule for trains and buses is to not take priority seats if able to, and to offer your seat to the elderly, pregnant people, and those with children. 

Some additional etiquette tips can be found here:

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