Teaching in Japan

The JET scheme

If you want to teach in Japan, the Japanese Exchange and Teaching programme is one of the best ways to start out. It finds your school or contracting organisation, pays for your flight over there (and back if you finish your contract) and gives you an orientation in Tokyo on arrival.  You only get four weeks holiday per year, but there are lots of public holidays.  JET is also a good stepping stone to an international school. The salary is good, the taxes are low and the life is fun.

International schools in Japan

There are quite a few International Schools in Japan, with most being based in Tokyo. Most of these schools will be looking for at least two years of teaching experience. The curriculum they teach will either be based on the British or American systems or it will focus on the International Baccalaureate.

The visa requirements

To legally teach in Japan you need to get a Working Visa and a Certificate of Alien Registration. You can get a working visa before entering Japan by completing the visa process with Japanese embassies or consulates. Or you can enter Japan on any type of tourist visa, find a teaching job and then change your visa type.

The culture

Very little is written in English, making it pretty much alien territory, but you get used to it. The people are very nice, but one of the contributors to the TES Teaching Overseas forum commented that they can seem “a little cold at times and occasionally, some are downright racist. Stares abound, although this is more likely in rural areas than the big cities.”

The language is always going to be a challenge, it’s so alien to us. TES forum contributors recommend you learn Katakana first. All foreigner words are written in Katakana, so if you go to any restaurant that isn’t Japanese (or Chinese) you’ll be able to read the menu.

Pay and conditions

Six million yen a year is a good salary for a school in Japan, but of course it’s all relative depending on your lifestyle. Housing is expensive and if you want to live in central Tokyo, you will spend 150-200k a month on rent alone. If you’re at a private school, make sure the school pays for your accommodation as rents are high.

Relocation costs, flights and health insurance should also be included for most roles in international schools.

Going out is relatively cheap (depending on where you go, of course). Food can be expensive of you want to eat Western food rather than Japanese, buying imported goods from international supermarkets is expensive.

TES forum users have in general been impressed by the general behaviour of the students in Japan commenting: “Behaviour management consists of things like nicely reminding them not to run in the halls. Many of them even thank me at the end of lessons. After my time teaching in the UK in a school that went into special measures, moving into international schools was a (pleasant) shock that’s for sure! “

Teaching jobs in Japan on TES

View all teaching jobs currently available on TES in Japan

Check out all the jobs available in Asia

Don’t forget to set yourself up with a job alert on TES so that you get details of the latest jobs in Japan emailed directly to you when they’re advertised on TES Jobs 

Useful links for teaching in Japan

Guide to International Schools in Japan

- you might want to read this before making any decisions

Japan Council of International Schools

International Baccalaureate

- find out more about the IB

Read this conversation about the JET scheme on the TES Teaching Overseas forum

And here’s another chat on the TES forums about what it’s really like to teach in Japan