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Where is the best place to teach English in Japan?

Every year, Japan magnetically draws in thousands of foreign English teachers due to the widespread job availability across its towns and cities. Coupled with the comfortable average salary enabling a good standard of living and savings, and an unmatched cultural and social landscape, Japan makes an irresistible choice for many. However, choosing the exact region to make your home can be a bit of a challenge. The nation's cities brim with possibilities, and even the quieter areas offer a refreshing change from the typically frantic city life. While it is hard to go wrong with any choice in Japan, the following areas come highly recommended, considering the local job market and the experiences of our past course graduates.

Table of Contents

Tokyo

Osaka

Kobe

Sapporo

Fukuoka

Tokyo

Unsurprisingly, Japan’s most densely populated area, Tokyo, tops the list. It is a realm of its own, brimming with teaching opportunities thanks to its nine million-plus residents and offering the country's highest salaries. Although the cost of living is notably high, especially for housing, jobs that include housing assistance should alleviate most of these concerns. Many teachers find that they live comfortably on their salaries, and some even engage in private tuition to augment their primary income. Whether your preferred teaching audience is in kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, or universities, Tokyo offers a broad spectrum of opportunities.

Beyond the work realm, Tokyo boasts an inexhaustible array of experiences. Entertainment is everywhere, with live music, shopping malls, museums, galleries, and so much more spread across the city’s 23 districts. Even though the peak rush hour can be intense, particularly in areas like Shibuya and Shinjuku, the city's electrifying energy is captivating. With districts ranging from the posh Ginza to the trendy Harajuku, Tokyo never ceases to stimulate the senses. The excellent local transport networks ensure the entire city is accessible, while the high-speed bullet trains make the rest of the country ripe for exploration during your free time.

Also read: How do I get a job teaching English in Japan?

Osaka

Though substantially smaller than Tokyo, Osaka still thrives as a bustling city, rich in English teaching jobs. Salaries are slightly lower than in Tokyo, but so are the living costs, with accommodation being significantly more affordable. Osaka has a reputation for its relaxed atmosphere, renowned comedy scene, and the fun-loving nature of its residents. From food and comedy to sake, your Osaka nights promise to be unique and enjoyable.

As “the nation’s kitchen”, Osaka prides itself on its food culture, offering countless eateries to try. Its reputation as the friendliest city in Japan also ensures that dining out is rarely a solitary affair. Do try the local favorites like takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). Also, don't miss out on the locally brewed sake, reputed as some of the best in Japan, thanks to the local mountain water.

Kobe

Kobe, a port city situated 30 km from Osaka, serves as a bustling hub of business and tourism, making it an ideal spot for finding English teaching jobs. Though significantly smaller than its close neighbor, Kobe has numerous private and public schools offering year-round job opportunities. The city, also hosting several large corporations, offers diverse options for teachers aiming to work within the business sector. Recognized as a multicultural city with a vibrant expat community, Kobe presents a cultural mosaic to explore.

Besides the conventional city entertainment, Kobe offers unique recreational activities such as beach outings, water sports, and some of the country's most renowned hot springs. The adjacent mountains overlooking the city offer a wonderful retreat from the urban bustle, where a weekend hike can lead you through some of Japan's most breathtaking scenery. Just as with most parts of Japan, the superb local transport network ensures efficient local and national travel.

Also read: How much can I earn teaching English in Japan?

Sapporo

Sapporo, although the capital of Japan's northern island, Hokkaido, isn't as well-known among foreign English teachers. With nearly two million residents, the city offers plentiful activities, day and night. What sets it apart from other cities, though, is its proximity to the wild and largely untamed wilderness. If you love winter sports, the city is your playground with world-class skiing and snowboarding facilities, as well as relaxing hot springs in the area.

Sapporo's northern location provides it with cold, snowy winters and a remarkable Snow Festival held every February. This grand spectacle attracts global visitors who marvel at the city's snow statues and ice sculptures. While the TEFL job market may not be as abundant as in other areas, opportunities are plentiful for the determined seeker. Patience may be required to secure a teaching position in Sapporo, but the rewards promise to be well worth the effort.

Fukuoka

Fukuoka, located in southwest Japan on Kyushu Island, is a popular teaching destination known for its rich history as a gateway to the country. The city today is celebrated for its beaches, green spaces, street food, and relaxed atmosphere, making it a delightful place to live and work. Though teaching jobs are not as plentiful here as in Tokyo or Osaka, with a bit of patience and research, you should be able to find the right fit for you.

The city is a vibrant place for younger people, annually hosting over ten thousand international students. Its strategic location also makes it a perfect base for exploring the wider region's natural splendor – a task more challenging if you opt for Tokyo as your base. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or culture vulture, Fukuoka serves as an ideal launchpad for your interests.

Also read: What is the JET Program for teaching English in Japan?


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