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I am a foreigner moving to Japan, but I can't decide where to live. From your experience, what do you suggest?

I am an american female in my mid twenties, and I will be moving by myself. I love the atmosphere and convenience that cities offer, but I also really enjoy laid back atmospheres and nature. I've looked at places such as Tokyo, Sendai, Hokkaido, Kyoto, etc. I can't decide because each place has elements that I absolutely adore.


Yes I've already visited, and this question is just a way for me to plan everything. This move isn't immediate, I'm simply planning...ya know what you do when you move somewhere new.

This is for those of you who think I don't have any idea about what I'm doing, or think I'm going right now with no plan. 

14 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    I get the idea of wanting laid back atmosphere and nature but for a single foreign woman I'd suggest sticking to one of the major cities and just making day trips out for a couple reasons.

    The first is that as a foreigner in Tokyo or Osaka or Sapporo you aren't that unusual. You see foreigners all the time as do the shopkeepers, government employees and taxi drivers. This stops being a thing the further out you go and the more of an oddity you become. Unless you happen to like that kind of thing.

    Also the further you get from the big cities, the less English you're going to see and this includes things like street signs and the names of train stations. Unless you speak and read Japanese which would be a good thing to do if you plan on living there.

    And lastly unless you're just going there for a couple months stick the big cities because you're going to need to be going to immigration. A lot. You can't just walk into Japan and say you're living there. You need a visa. You can only get one if you fall into one of the categories they offer. And unless you have more than $10K to invest as a business person to help improve the economy you're going to need either 10 years of documented experience in your field or a 4 year degree from an accredited college or university. The other, much easier way, is to find yourself a Japanese man and marry him. I don't recommend going that route unless you actually love him but that's just me.

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  • Mrsjvb
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    Wherever you can get hired  that comes with eligibility to reside on the economy.  

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  • 3 months ago

    You just can't move there...

    You can only stay 90 days without a visa . To get a work visa you need at least a BA degree and a job offer before you get there . This is what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requires . No degree , no job .

      Most people teach English , and most of them get burned out in the first year or two and quit .

      Japan isn't an easy place to live . If you don't really have a love for the people and culture , you're not going to make it .

    My advice , find another pipe dream .

  • 3 months ago

    You don't say what you are going to Japan for. Few people get to pick and choose where they live like you suggest.

    • ...Show all comments
    • Never-Again
      Lv 7
      3 months agoReport

      You can't just live there because you feel like it. You need a place to sponsor your visa - that is where you will live. You don't just go where you like and people start throwing job offers at you. You can stay there 90 days on a landing permit - otherwise you'll be illegal and you're toast.

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  • 4 months ago

    I think you would like Sendai. On unique thing about Sendai is that they still have gaslights. Summer in Sendai is much less oppressive than in Tokyo, and winter is much milder than Sapporo. 

  • Bob
    Lv 5
    4 months ago

    It's interesting that you mention getting a 5 year visa as a done deal and that you're moving for work but this work and the visa it will bring you isn't fixed to any particular location and you can apparently choose wherever you want to live.

    For someone who has never lived in Japan, getting a 5 year visa from the start is almost unheard of. Typically they are granted for 1 or 3 years initially so I'm definitely intrigued by how you've managed to pull off a 5 year visa when you clearly haven't even got somewhere to live sorted out.

    You also talk about hoping to get permanent residency but nothing in your post and comments suggests that you've even actually visited Japan yet. Have you? In all honesty, I recommend visiting first and at least live here for a year or two before starting to talk about PR.

    From my own experience of living in Japan for nearly 2 decades, I have lots of suggestions about places to live but knowing nothing about you other than that you like cities and you like nature and you like cold places, it's hard to suggest anywhere. Since your mum was born in Japan, why not ask her?

    Or, best of all, why not come over to visit, with a list of possible locations in mind, and go to see all of them and discover which appeals the most...

  • 4 months ago

    It's soooo cold in winter in Hokkaido and fairly cold in Sendai. If you don't like cold climate, those 2 places are out of question.

    • MacKenzie4 months agoReport

      Awesome, thanks so much for the feedback!!! 
      Yes, thankfully I like cold weather.

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  • Quinn
    Lv 6
    4 months ago

    No you are not moving to Japan. If you were moving to live in Japan, that would mean you have either a job or going to study in Japan and that would limit where you could live. You don't just pick up and move to Japan, find a place to live and stay for as long as you want. You are confusing how things are in the US with how it is in other countries.

    An American without a long term stay visa such as student or work visa can only stay in Japan for a maximum of 90 says at a stretch and 180 days total in 1 year. Without a visa, you are not going to rent a place to live and some places will not give you a lease even if you have a visa.

    If you really are that infatuated with Japan and want to live in Japan, you should start learning about the legal requirements because the Japanese and other countries of the world have laws on immigration which they strictly enforce.

  • 4 months ago

    Presumably if you're moving, it's to study or work; which will generally define your location.

    • MacKenzie4 months agoReport

      Its for work, but its not for a program or anything. I am moving mainly to live permanently. 

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  • Anonymous
    4 months ago

    Well you know how that is

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