Where to Teach English in Japan

Last Updated on January 8, 2023

This site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission (for which I am very grateful).

For many, the draw to teach English in Japan comes from a love of the country as well as the drive to help others learn.

But the question of where to base yourself while you teach can be just as important as the reasons why.

Fortunately, Japan is full of culturally rich cities and towns, each with its own unique personality and vibe.

Find out where to teach English in Japan, street view with person in tradditional Japanese dress with red parasol walking down rain-slicked road with people and shops to the sides

Imagine, for a moment, a lively, crowded street.

The aromas of all manner of street foods fill the air, and flashing neon signs adorn the sides of buildings, while skyscrapers tower side-by-side with small alleys and ancient temples.

This mish-mash of cultures, architecture, and lifestyles is a scene common to Japan’s sprawling cities. No wonder it’s one of the most popular places to teach English as a foreign language!

Choosing between the islands’ wonderful and unique metropolises is difficult. Each has something different to offer.

For some who wish to teach English in Japan, salary plays an important part.

For others, even the highest paying English teaching jobs in Japan might not be enough to make them choose somewhere that has the wrong social atmosphere.

Luckily, we have decided to create this little guide on the advantages that each city has for an aspiring EFL teacher. Thank us later.

🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. I recommend either SafetyWing or World Nomads.

Where to Teach English in Japan

Learn about the teaching English in Japan requirements, vibrant and brightly lit street crossing at night with colourful neon lights and signs illuminating the pedestrians and sidewalks

1. Tokyo

Obviously, the capital of Japan and the world’s largest metropolitan area (39 million call it home) had to be first on the list.

Such a large population base is naturally going to come with a sizeable jobs market. Wages are slightly higher, on average, than the rest of the country, but so is the cost of living.

Tokyo is an incredibly diverse city, with imperial palaces, sweeping parks, glossy business districts, and delicious-smelling back alleys.

Think New York or London, but everything works as it’s meant to.

Again, just like New York and London, Japan’s capital is at the forefront of global technological advancement and financial services.

Being the economic powerhouse that it is cements its place as a prime TEFL destination.

Need another reason to teach English in Tokyo? Well the city, like much of Japan, has an extraordinarily low crime rate!

Cost of Living in Tokyo

Annoyingly, Tokyo, as great as it is, is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world. Here are some of the average costs for essentials, according to Numbeo:

  • 1 bedroom, city centre apartment: 124,000 yen (£869) per month
  • 1 bedroom, outside of city centre: 77,000 yen (£539) per month

Wages in Tokyo

Wages tend to be slightly higher here than in other cities. Someone starting their EFL career can expect to earn around 250,000 yen per month, which is pretty standard.

🎫 TOP TIP: Looking for tickets to some of the best shows, activities and passes? I highly recommend booking via Viator for the best prices and deals!

Plan how to obtain the highest paying English teaching jobs in Japan, tall ornamental tower in traditional Japanese style sitting among large area of green and yellow forest trees under a bright cloudy sky

2. Osaka

Once Japan’s main commercial and trade hub, Osaka still plays an important role in Japan’s economy and identity.

The second largest metropolitan area in Japan, Osaka is as diverse and crazy as Tokyo, but with a cost of living that’s a whole quarter less!

As such, there’s a reasonable demand for those who want to teach English in Osaka Japan.

Osaka is famed for its street food, so much so that it has earned the prestigious nickname Tenka no Daidokoro or ‘Nation’s Kitchen’.

Even during the coldest month in Osaka, you’ll still be happy to be there because of the street food!

More than rice, sushi, and noodles, Osaka is home to many classics. One example is the Okonomiyaki – an omelette-type dish that can be customised with an assortment of toppings.

For history buffs, there are multiple significant landmarks such as the magnificent Osaka Castle or the Sumiyoshi Shrine.

For a slice of everything Japan has to offer, Osaka is the place to be.

Cost of Living in Osaka

According to Numbeo.

  • 1 bedroom, city centre apartment: 73,000 yen (£500) per month
  • 1 bedroom, outside of city centre: 51,700 yen (£362) per month

Wages in Osaka

English teaching jobs in Osaka tend to have slightly lower wages than in Tokyo, although not by much. Expect around 200,000 yen per month for a starting salary.

📦 PACKING TIP: Don’t leave home without a solar powered battery pack so you can keep your devices connected at all times.

Find out how to teach English to Japanese students, street view of small grey brick building covered in a layer of white snow with people walking past wearing winter coats on the icy streets

3. Sapporo

Praised as a breath of fresh air when compared to Japan’s other megacities, Sapporo is a fantastic northern city.

Famed for its snow-capped mountains, friendly locals, and strong expat community, Sapporo is great if the endless urban sprawls of the southern cities doesn’t appeal to you.

For adrenaline-junkies, the surrounding mountains offer top class skiing and snowboarding. In fact, the city is often covered in a blanket of snow for much of winter.

If you’re not great with the cold then maybe English teaching jobs in Sapporo are not for you.

That being said, Sapporo is well worth the minor inconvenience of sub-zero temperatures and should be a big consideration for any would-be English teachers.

Since it is quite a bit smaller, and a little bit off the beaten path, the market for teaching jobs here is not quite as potent as in other cities.

However, it is also less competitive than in Tokyo or Osaka, with jobs less likely to be gobbled up and requirements a bit less stringent.

Cost of Living in Sapporo

According to Numbeo.

  • 1 bedroom, city centre apartment: 63,000 yen (£445) per month
  • 1 bedroom, outside of city centre: 45,000 yen (£315) per month

Wages in Sapporo

Sapporo teachers can expect to earn a similar wage as elsewhere with around 200,000 – 250,000 yen a month being the standard.

Of course, this can differ between employers, but wages in Japan are fairly stable so this is a reliable average.

👡 PACKING TIP: Looking for the best shoes for travelling? I highly recommend getting a pair of Chaco’s They are my favourite!

Certification and Qualifications

Now, to the finer details surrounding the teaching English in Japan requirements. The first step for those wondering how to teach English to Japanese students, is to get a visa.

But to actually obtain a visa to work as a tutor in Japan, you must hold a bachelor’s degree, which is annoying for a lot of people.

On top of that, employers can be quite picky when it comes to experience and qualifications.

We recommend completing a 120-hour TEFL course because this will provide you with the level of training most commonly sought after by schools.

Make sure to book your course with an accredited and internationally recognised provider like The TEFL Org so that you give yourself the best start possible.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack up and move away to teach English in Japan now!

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How long can you teach English in Japan?

This will depend on the kind of visa your receive. Time lengths range from a few months up to five years, and they can also be extended in some circumstances.

✅ Can you be too old to teach English in Japan?

Not really! People in their 40s, 50s or even older are not restricted from being able to teach English in Japan. In fact, life experience can be a real asset!

Other articles you will love:

Love this post? Pin it for later!

Where to Teach English in Japan
Where to Teach English in Japan


Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment