Is Japan a good country to live in? Find out if it’s an ideal place to call home

Have you ever considered uprooting your life and leaving your comfort zone for employment opportunities, educational pursuits, or simply embark on a personal journey for the sheer pleasure and novelty of a new experience?

Japan, with its rich cultural heritage, advanced technology, and stunning landscapes, has intrigued people around the world. But is it an ideal place to be your new home?

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From its safety and efficient transportation to its unique blend of modernity and tradition, let’s find out what makes Japan a sterling candidate to be your new permanent residence. 

Kyoto, japan - kyoto, japan - kyoto, japan - kyo.

Is Japan Truly the Ideal Place to Call Home?

Japan is a land of contrast and tradition that often lures people with a promise of safety and tranquility. Yet, the reality is not always what meets the eye. 

As we delve into the intricacies of living in Japan, we will discover what lies beneath the masked politeness and what is really in store for us apart from the picturesque cherry blossoms and ancient temples.

Here’s a closer look at what makes Japan both alluring and challenging as a place to reside:

Safety, Politeness, and the Art of Silence

Japan is renowned for being a safe country to live in, creating a constant and reassuring sense of security, whether it’s day or night. 

Incidents of random violence and theft are exceptionally rare, making it a haven for both residents and visitors. Imagine being able to walk safely without worries even during the wee hours of the night?

Japanese society also places a strong emphasis on personal space, so you’ll find that locals generally respect boundaries, ensuring a feeling of comfort and security in public places.

Meanwhile, politeness is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, forming an essential and respected part of daily life. This inherent respect for others is obvious in interactions, from simple gestures to more complex social exchanges.

While the Japanese may not initiate extensive conversations with strangers, many locals will make an effort to help when asked for assistance, often using whatever English they can muster.

For sure you’ve heard of stories about Japanese offering help to foreigners who seemed confused with how the subways work without being asked first. 

How about that of older locals going out of their way to accompany a foreigner to their destination because they got lost? 

There are a lot of similar heartwarming stories about this type of experience all over Japan.

A crowded street in tokyo, japan.

Honesty in transactions

You’ll rarely encounter issues of being short-changed or cheated in Japan. From convenience stores to department stores and street vendors, honesty in financial transactions is a given.

So, when you buy something, you can almost always expect accurate change, and it’s uncommon for mistakes to occur

Because of this level of reliability, transactions are made simple and give customers a sense of security.

Healthcare excellence with freedom of choice

Japan has a world-class healthcare system that ranks among the best globally because it is not only efficient and of the highest quality, it is also affordable and accessible to both residents and expats.

Patients can visit a doctor’s office without an appointment, with most facilities open on Saturdays.

It also provides patients the freedom to select their preferred doctors, clinics, and hospitals, where they typically cover 30% of the medical bill out of pocket.

For instance, a simple visit to a doctor for a minor ailment might cost an individual around $30, with an additional $10 for prescribed medications.

Culinary specialties that are delightful to the palate

Japan’s cuisine is not just about sushi or ramen, it has a lot in store for every type of palate – even the most picky one.

Tokyo, in particular, stands as a culinary haven with approximately 1100 restaurants per 100,000 people, according to estimates by the World Cities Culture Forum.

From the savory umami of miso-based dishes in Hokkaido to the delicate balance of flavors in Kyoto’s kaiseki cuisine, Japan’s diverse landscapes and traditions have given rise to a culinary heritage that is nothing short of extraordinary. 

There is the thinly sliced, fresh, raw seafood or fish, often served with soy sauce and wasabi called sashimi which is prized for its purity and delicate flavors; tempura that features lightly battered and deep-fried seafood, vegetables, popular for its crispy texture and served with a dipping sauce.

Don’t forget Yakitori, Okonomiyaki, Donburi, Yakiniku, Gyoza, Soba Udon, and so much more!

Japan also offers various dining options, from inexpensive yet delectable restaurants to high-end establishments that cater to discerning palates.

A bullet train is coming into a station.

Efficient transportation

When it comes to efficient transportation Japan is at the top of the echelon. It is punctual, clean, and safe, even though it can be crowded at times. 

Buses, trains, and subways in Japan play a pivotal role in making navigation within Japan, even between cities, a seamless and car-free experience, ensuring that residents and foreigners alike can travel the country with ease.

Trains depart and arrive with clockwork-like precision, and schedules are precisely maintained, reducing wait times to a minimum and guaranteeing everyone will get to their destination on time. 

In the rare instance of a one-minute delay, subway staff apologize profusely to passengers for the inconvenience

Furthermore, Japan’s extensive public transportation system is so well-developed that it often eliminates the need for car ownership.

Job security and compensation

When you are employed in Japan you get a high level of protection; terminations are rare occurrences. Unlike in other countries, in Japan, getting hired is a lifelong commitment between the company and its employees, fostering a strong sense of financial security for workers and their families.

Besides their regular income, salary men in Japan also get bonuses twice a year, providing them with a consistent and predictable stream of income.

To top this off, companies offer a wide range of benefits to employees. These can include comprehensive health insurance, pension plans, and even housing allowances, among others. 

As a foreigner, you may be curious about the process of finding work in Japan.

Well, Japan provides various types of work visas, including temporary visas for activities such as research, paperwork, or unpaid work. 

While obtaining a visa without corporate sponsorship can be complex and time-consuming, Japan is generally open to welcoming foreign talent to contribute to its workforce.

A city street at night with people walking down it.

Law enforcement and bureaucracy

The Japanese police generally refrain from undue harassment and often employ a non-confrontational approach in dealing with the public. However, there is racial profiling, especially in nightlife districts of major cities. 

Also, the Japanese legal system places immense emphasis on confessions. This is a practice rooted in the belief that confession represents genuine remorse and accountability.

However, there are also concerns as some confessions are obtained under duress due to coercion, which leads to miscarriages of justice. 

Respectful and civil conversations

If you are from a country where everyone forces their personal belief and opinions on you, you will find engaging in conversations in Japan a uniquely refreshing experience.

In Japan, nobody raises their voice or attempts to impose their views on others, creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to peaceful dialogue.

Discussions don’t feel like confrontational debates but something that fosters an environment of tranquility and understanding, where respect for others’ opinions and perspectives takes center stage. 

Two japanese women in kimono eating donuts in front of lanterns.

Cultural nuances

Japanese society maintains a deep-seated culture of hierarchical thinking, where the importance of respecting seniority cannot be overstated. 

Respecting one’s elders and seniors is more than a mere courtesy; it is a guiding principle deeply ingrained in the citizenry. 

This hierarchical structure extends to nearly every aspect of life, including family, business, and social interactions, and extends across all age groups, with individuals of all ages expected to show deference and respect to their seniors

In school, students exhibit respect towards their teachers, while in workplaces, employees demonstrate unwavering deference to their senior colleagues and superiors. 

Failing to show deference to authority figures and intentionally disregarding authority has dire consequences.

In school, if students show a lack of respect towards their teachers, they may face disciplinary actions or difficulties in their academic progress. 

Similarly, in workplaces, employees who do not conform to the established hierarchy may find their career trajectory stunted, with fewer opportunities for advancement or growth.

The two faces of Japan

Living in Japan can present challenges that arise from the intricate nature of Japanese daily life. Language barriers, complex social hierarchies, and the subtleties of etiquette can pose obstacles for newcomers. 

However, they are also opportunities for growth and understanding. As one becomes accustomed to the nuances of Japanese society, it’s possible to build meaningful relationships and create a sense of belonging.

Learning to navigate and respect the norms is not just a sign of cultural awareness; it’s the key to integration and acceptance within Japanese communities.

The not-so-affordable cost of living

Japan is often seen as a high-cost country. However, depending on how you navigate it, Japan can be pretty affordable.

As with other countries, if you learn the local practices and you can adapt to your surroundings then living in Japan can be on par with the living expenses like that of other well-developed nations.

To help you out with your expenses, keep these few things in mind:

  • Apartment wisdom – Affordable city living.
  • Food savings – Local and fresh options.
  • Healthcare perk – Affordable coverage.
  • Fashion – Online Solutions.
  • Transit excellence – Public transport rules.

Want to know more about Japan? Read our article on How much cash do you need to bring when you travel to Japan?