Moving to Japan

Say konichiwa to the ‘land of the rising sun’! Where mountains and temples meet neon lights, and skyscrapers and timeless traditions live harmoniously with modern culture and technological innovation.

Brimming with history, spirituality and stunning architecture, Japan is a simply beautiful country where you feel as though you can really step back in time. Combined with fast-paced, metropolitan city hubs like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s a varied and exciting place to live.

An island nation in the South Pacific, comprised of an incredible 6,852 islands, Japan boasts a vast array of different landscapes and lifestyles. Whether you wish to delve completely into the bustle of Tokyo, or embrace classic tradition in more rural settings, there is a Japan waiting to offer you an experience of a lifetime. And with Japan’s famous bullet trains, you don’t have to choose just one!

Finding accommodation

Accommodation varies widely in both cost and type across this vast country. Certainly, in Tokyo, and other main cities, accommodation can be 30-40% higher than elsewhere in the country and a private, one-bed apartment will cost you upwards of 80,000 yen.

In Japan, ‘inkans’ are used instead of signatures to formalise agreements such as rental or purchase contracts. An inkan is a seal with your last name written on it in Japanese and can be purchased easily in the country.


Japanese schooling is split into primary and secondary education. Elementary school is for ages 6 to 12, then they move into junior high school for three years to complete mandatory education. The subsequent three years of high school are elective, although foreign nationals are not subject to any compulsory schooling in Japan.

Most students attend public, free education institutes until the end of junior high school, but private education is popular for high school and university.

The standard of education is high but can be more pressure-filled than in some other countries.


Japan has a unique and intriguing culture, which can seem a little daunting at first. Known for their hardworking, polite and formal culture, foreigners can sometimes expect the Japanese to be cold and unfriendly. Quite the opposite is true, in fact, and the Japanese have embraced Western culture and the different expatriates who have chosen to live amongst them.

History and tradition still have a firm place in modern society in Japan and people are very respectful of their customs and elders, placing great importance on family.

Good to know

It’s considered very impolite to wear your shoes inside so it’s wise to invest in a lot of slip-on shoes for ease. Lace-ups will most likely end up neglected in the back of your wardrobe!

Many people in the main cities speak good English. Less so in more rural settings so it’s worth trying to learn some basic Japanese before arriving. Downloading a free offline translation app such as ‘Kotoba’ can be very useful.

Despite how advanced most things are in Japanese cities, it is still a heavily cash-based society so don’t get too reliant on that debit or credit card – it’s always worth having some real paper money with you!

Santa Fe Relocation is the local and international moving company that specialises in moves to Japan.

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