Life in Japan

Teach in Japan, the land of the rising sun

Japan is one of the most unique and varied places to teach English.

There’s so much to experience that you will undoubtedly miss some unique features in your first few years in Japan. Here’s just a scratch at the surface of what Japan has to offer.


Japanese culture combines the old with the new

Japan has made an enormous impact on cultures worldwide with cultural icons such as Pikachu, Power Rangers and Super Mario. Who doesn’t know Sony and Nintendo? Japan also stands at the forefront of animation, with famous anime movies dating back 50 years. Besides its famous entertainment industry, Japan has produced some of the world’s most iconic cars.

When you live in Japan you can enjoy all of these and many other cultural activities like cosplay, sumo wrestling and izakayas (Japanese style bars). And did we mention hot springs?

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Japanese people are unique

English is not widely spoken in Japan. If it’s your first time in Asia, it may seem daunting to live in a country where you can’t communicate with everyone you see, and maybe you’re not sure if and when you should bow. Although a bit shy at first, Japan’s 126 million people are always helpful to lost foreigners and there is a thriving expat community. Still, it is advisable to learn some basic sentences if you plan to live in Japan.

Besides the language, there are some unique customs you should familiarize yourself with. For example, it’s disrespectful to not take off your shoes when you enter a home. Also, Japanese people don’t say No, instead they will say something like Maybe next time.

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. For example, in a restaurant you can leave your wallet on the table and expect it to still be there when you return.

japanese people

Japan’s nature will surprise you

Japan is host to many natural wonders. Two of the most famous are sakura trees (cherry blossom) and Mount Fuji.

Make sure to also see these:

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Regions of Japan

Japan is a large country consisting out of 6,852 islands. 70% of its terrain is covered by mountains. The country is divided in nine regions on four main islands:

  • The northern island Hokkaido has snowy winters and wide open spaces.
  • Honshu is the biggest island of Japan, featuring most major cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama.
  • Shikoku is the smallest island region and a destination for Buddhist pilgrims.
  • Kyushu is the most southern island region and the birthplace of Japanese civilization. Part of Kyushu is Okinawa, an island chain reaching out toward Taiwan with different customs, food and architecture from the rest of Japan.
Japan cartoon map
Poster vector created by macrovector -

Spring is the best time to be in Japan. Weather is comfortable and you can see sakura (cherry blossom) in March-April. Travel as much as you can in this time!

Summer is hot and humid, especially further South. There is a rain season around June.

Autumn sees the tree leafs color orange and brown while weather is just as good as in spring. Expect some typhoons to approach Japan around this time.

Winter sees heavy snow in the North. Winters are milder on the East coast. Most houses don’t have central heating.

A look at Japan

Let’s take a look at what Japan actually looks like. Play both videos at the same time and enjoy!

Traveling around is sometimes confusing

Tokyo’s public transportation uses PASMO and SUICA cards. Traveling by subway can be confusing, even for Japanese people. There are many different subway lines, run by different companies, and a single journey may require you to use several companies. However, with the help of the internet you can easily find how to get to your destination. Fun fact: the world’s biggest subway station is Shinjuku station in Tokyo.

You can sometimes see children about 8 years old individually taking the subway(s) to school! There are special cars available for women during rush hour. You will pay 170 yen for traveling 1-6 km, and up to 310 yen for 28-40 km. Travel will be a bit cheaper when you buy coupon tickets. For more info check out Tokyo Metro.

Traffic safety is close to the best in the world, comparable to traffic safety in The Netherlands and the UK. Traffic is safer than in the US and France.

For traveling to other cities, you may take the Shinkansen high speed train, which travels up to 224 mph (360 kmh). Taxis are too expensive to take on a daily basis, charging about $30 for a 20 minute ride.

When you master traveling around Japan, you will be able to enjoy all the beautiful sights of Japan in no time!

Japan city

Japanese food is more than just sushi!

Although it is their most iconic food, most Japanese people hardly ever eat sushi. Living in Japan you’ll have the chance to eat all of Japan’s famous and usually healthy dishes. Tempura, ramen, natto and okonomiyaki are just a few of the fantastic foods you have to discover for yourself.

The traditional Japanese diet is a whole-foods-based diet rich in plant-based foods without a lot of animal protein, sugars or fat. Apparently vegan-looking dishes may contain traces of fish, shrimp or other animals, so make sure a dish fits within your diet when you order. As an added bonus, Japanese food hygiene standards are the highest in the world.

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Japan is expensive… right?

Japan is surprisingly affordable, with a “cost of living + rent” index similar to Toronto, Denver, Portland, Vancouver, Sydney and Philadelphia. This is about 64% of the cost in New York. With a current teaching salary of $2245 USD you will be able to save some money and frequently go out. Of course the cost of living depends on your lifestyle.

Take 15 seconds and check how much money you need in Japan to maintain your own standard of living with Numbeo’s cost of living calculator.


>> If the second amount you get is lower than the first, that means the second city is relatively cheaper <<


Teaching English in Japan is rewarding

Many Japanese want to learn English, so you will be compensated handsomely for what might be one of the greatest experiences of your life! When you teach English in Japan, you are able to…

  • Eat out and socialize regularly
  • Live in a comfortable apartment in Tokyo
  • Travel around the country on days off
  • Indulge in some of the best shopping in the world
  • All while enjoying a quality of life similar to Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin and Cologne

When you teach with us, you’ll experience Japan and get paid to do it!

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About Schools in Japan

We are the official recruitment arm of Shane English School Japan (SESJ). Schools are primarily based in and around Tokyo, including the prime locations of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ebisu, and Ginza.

The schools are well-equipped with all the teaching materials and resources necessary to deliver the tailored Shane English Schools Japan curriculum. While some schools have in excess of 300 students, there are also smaller schools with fewer than 100 students. Teachers are assigned a district and will teach at a few different locations within that district. Travel is compensated and teachers will have the support of the Director of Studies for academic and welfare related matters.

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Classes and Students

Around half the students are children and half are adults, although this can vary considerably from school to school and from day to day. The maximum class size for both children and adults is 6 students per class. A large part of your teaching schedule will be 1-on-1 private classes. A standard group class is 50 minutes long, while private 1-on-1 classes are 40 minutes.

school girls


Full-time teachers are entitled to around 6 weeks of annual leave, including national holidays. This will normally include non-working periods of at least 6 days in spring, 8 days in summer and 10 days during Christmas and New Year.

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The Pay

  • Monthly salaries start at ¥245,000 ($2,245)
  • Increments for higher qualifications
  • Taxes deducted from pay automatically

The Benefits

  • Free health care
  • 6 weeks annual leave
  • Daily travel costs paid for
  • Variety of teaching (children and adults)


  • 1 week comprehensive initial training focused on young learners
  • Continued seminars, workshops and observations throughout the year

Native English speaker

You need to be a native English speaker.

Teaching Certificates

You need at least one of the following teaching certificates:

  • A 120-hour TEFL with 6 hours practicum (TEFL certificates below 120 hours require 3 months experience)
  • Trinity certTESOL

If you don’t have a teaching certificate yet, check out our TEFL discount, provided by International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT).


You need at least a bachelor’s degree in any field.

Criminal Background Check

You need to provide a criminal background check, issued within the last 6 months. Check your country to see which one you need:

Australia (National Police Checks)

Canada (Certified Criminal Record Check):

Ireland (Police Certificates):

New Zealand (Criminal Record)

South Africa (Police Clearance Certificate)

United Kingdom (Police Certificate) ACRO or Basic Disclosure (for Scotland)

United States (Identity History Summary)