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Living in Japan: A Guide For Digital Nomads

Japan is a wonderland. Food, tradition, nature, historical past — there’s not anything that this mystical archipelago doesn’t do neatly. Living in Japan as a virtual nomad goes to position all that inside simple achieve of you at any time.

Begin your day with a stroll on your native Shinto shrine, head to a slick co-working area or a restaurant, snatch some sushi for lunch, after which spend the afternoon exploring the town. Heading anyplace from a yakitori eating place to a teppanyaki position for dinner is par for the route.

Practice your Japanese words, save up the ones pennies, and get ready your self for having the most efficient of Japan’s attractions and herbal wonders for your doorstep. Living in Japan is a large number of amusing.

In this text I’ll proportion what it’s love to are living in Japan as a virtual nomad. Read on for my most sensible pointers and recommendation.

Japanese Culture

Living in Japan is some distance from the norm you’re used to. Ok, so it can be a contemporary, advanced country, however issues paintings another way right here. Knowing one of the vital fundamentals relating to mixing in and being respectful goes to head far.

  • Bowing: This is an actual factor in Japan. From large bows on first conferences to nods of acknowledgment when your meals is brought to your desk, you’ll be doing this so much.
  • Shoes off: Yes, it’s true, you don’t put on sneakers in Japanese properties. Even in some eating places and in centuries-old castles, you must take away them. It is sensible; simply consider what you tread in from out of doors!
  • Eating in public: Looking round, you’ll understand other people don’t in point of fact stroll alongside once they’re consuming, and even stand round and consume in the street. There are designated spots for consuming, and chowing down simply out of doors a meals stall is ok as neatly — simply you’ll want to’re no longer strolling and consuming. 
  • Littering: No approach. Japan may be very blank, which is likely one of the causes I adore it such a lot. And the cleanliness is because of other people tidying up after themselves. When you do throw out your rubbish, you’ll want to use the appropriate packing containers.
  • Being loud: Even in busy streets, you’ll understand the loss of noise from crowds of Japanese other people. Especially in trains, it’s the norm that individuals stay their voices down and rarely use telephones. You must apply swimsuit.

living in japan what are the customs?

Where To Live in Japan As a Digital Nomad

Japan is larger than you could suppose. All the way in which from frozen Hokkaido in the north to subtropical Okinawa in the south, there are a lot of puts around the 378,000 sq. kilometers of this country that you’ll be able to base your self in.

Whether you’re in search of conventional tradition, gleaming skyscrapers or outside actions, there’ll be a spot in Japan for you. But no longer in all places is strictly outfitted against virtual nomads residing in Japan; steadily, you’ll to find your self merely operating in a restaurant with wireless, moderately than a co-working area, regardless of the place you might be in the rustic.


The iconic capital has an entire lot to supply for virtual nomads residing in Japan. It is de facto massive and one of the crucial greatest metropolises in the arena, with a inhabitants that rockets neatly above 13 million other people. If you wish to have to get caught into 24-hour metropolis lifestyles, that is where to return.

In truth, Tokyo itself is made up of many alternative metropolis facilities (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza), and lots of extra. There’s so much to discover.  

Life in Tokyo is costlier than residing in Japan’s different prefectures, certainly. The lodging, despite the fact that nonetheless inexpensive than some European towns like London and Paris, will consume a sizeable bite of your cash.


Ah… the meals capital of Japan. The centrally positioned metropolis is 500 kilometers west of Tokyo and is way more available in the market. This is the place to return in the event you like consuming and ingesting. Here, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with Osaka ‘soul food,’ corresponding to takoyaki, yakisoba, and, in fact, okonomiyaki.

Osaka additionally occurs to be every other sprawling metropolis whole with department stores, unending underground buying groceries streets, and a humming nightlife. It’s additionally significantly inexpensive than Tokyo.


The outdated imperial capital of Japan is a stone’s throw from Osaka. This is the place you must are living in Japan if you wish to wander quiet conventional backstreets and feature global heritage, UNESCO standing, centuries-old temples for your doorstep. There are a lot of amusing issues to do in Kyoto to stay you busy.

And whilst it sounds best possible, the disadvantage of Kyoto are the vacationers, which can be mighty considerable throughout excessive season. Accommodation could also be moderately pricey in this metropolis. 

living in japan in kyoto what to see and do
The Nishiki Market is a bustling position with implausible meals in Kyoto


Famous no longer just for pork, Kobe could also be the 6th biggest metropolis in Japan and some of the multicultural towns in the rustic. It used to be one of the crucial first towns in Japan to be opened as much as foreigners. Because of this, there’s various overseas meals (i.e. meals from house) to experience and a group of westerners to socialise with. There’s a ancient space right here with many Western apartments, in addition to a moderately massive Chinatown to discover.


Japan’s burgeoning start-up metropolis is a smart possibility for virtual nomads who like lifestyles by way of the ocean. Set on Kyushu, the 3rd biggest of the Japanese ‘home islands’, Fukuoka boasts sandy seashores, funky department stores, and a colourful tech scene.

Life here’s just right — so just right that it’s steadily ranked as some of the habitable towns in the arena, helped by way of its gentle winters and balmy summers. There also are simple ferry connections to South Korea if you wish to have extra adventures.


Aside from the massive towns, there are dozens of smaller towns scattered around the islands the place it is advisable make a house for your self residing in Japan as a virtual nomad.

They vary from Matsue at the Sea of Japan, Kochi at the south coast of Shikoku, and Nagoya (which is in reality beautiful large). And we haven’t even discussed Hiroshima or Nagasaki, let on my own Sapporo, the icy capital of Hokkaido, or the opposite cold cities of the Tohoku area like Niigata, Aomori, and Sendai.


Living in Japan isn’t all about towns. If you wish to have a style of the original, on a regular basis lives of Japanese other people, the geographical region (or inaka) is the place it’s at. Even some ‘cities’ in Japan are steadily simply made up of small cities and villages, e.g. Bizen in Okayama prefecture and Ise in Mie prefecture.

Life in those puts is dominated by way of nature and a loss of facilities. People listed here are hardworking and pleasant. This is no doubt a just right possibility if you wish to experience a extra easy facet to Japanese lifestyles. But be warned, you’ll no doubt stand out as a foreigner!

Types of Accommodation in Japan

There are a lot of lodging choices in Japan. Just stay in thoughts that almost all received’t be offering a big residing area, which you may well be aware of. 


Japan’s hostels are wonderful. Especially in towns, those puts are neatly outfitted for virtual nomads residing in Japan. They typically include commonplace spaces with sturdy wireless and tables for other people to paintings at. That stated, residing long-term in a Japanese hostel may just get dear even in a dorm — to not point out, cramped.


A just right possibility for while you first arrive in Japan, inns are everywhere and typically beautiful neatly positioned subsequent to coach stations and most sensible attractions. However, the rooms are beautiful compact and the charges get moderately excessive, particularly in vacationer seasons. Naturally, inns are inexpensive in cities that aren’t vacationer hotspots, however aren’t your only option for long-term residing in Japan.

living in japan where to stay
Hotels in Japan may well be great, however aren’t concept for long-term remains


Airbnb was once a godsend for a virtual nomad residing in Japan; it used to be unregulated and inexpensive with a myriad of choices all over the place the rustic, even in probably the most off-the-beaten-track places.

Since the federal government made it tougher for other people to develop into Airbnb hosts in 2017, there at the moment are fewer Airbnbs to make a choice from in Japan. But they’re nonetheless a cast possibility for virtual nomads and bargains will also be discovered. It’s a good way to really feel such as you’re in reality residing in a metropolis and in many instances, you’ll develop into buddies along with your host. Airbnbs steadily include pocket wireless too.

Shared House

If you’re having a look to base your self in a metropolis for a couple of months, then residing in Japan can’t get a lot more uncomplicated or inexpensive than staying in a shared space.

The shared homes include your personal furnished room with communal amenities. Wi-fi and expenses are typically incorporated in the associated fee and, even supposing the site may not be in the center of the town, the homes are typically close to a educate station and retail outlets.

Rent a spot

If you may have, on the very least, a twelve months Working Holiday Visa, you might be able to hire your very personal condominium to get probably the most out of residing in Japan.

Even in Tokyo, the flats for hire are strangely inexpensive, however typically come unfurnished and without a wireless. Be able for an journey and immerse your self in a actually Japanese procedure, with all of the forms to head with it. Some elementary Japanese language wisdom can be useful in this example.

Amenities in Japan

Being totally chock-a-bloc with facilities makes residing in Japan bother unfastened. There are libraries in all places, parks on each and every nook, a loopy quantity of comfort retail outlets, online game arcades, docs’ surgical procedures, hospitals, publish workplaces in each and every the city (even the smallest village), a lot of hairdressers and buying groceries alternatives galore.

And, in fact, extra eating places and cafes than it is advisable ever consider. Unless you select to are living someplace very far off, you’ll be rather well catered for in Japan. 

Transportation in Japan

Japan’s railway community is world-famous and there’s a explanation why for that — it’s wonderful. You can get just about anyplace because of an excessively complete educate community. This comprises fascinating native trains that chug thru lush valleys up to it does the gleaming shinkansen and their white-gloved attendants.

Then there are the metros, monorails, and trams of Japan’s towns. Fairly reasonably priced (a lot inexpensive than London’s tube, for instance), the usage of inner-city railways is a part of residing in Japan. They’re in point of fact blank and environment friendly, simply take a look at to not shuttle in rush hour, particularly with baggage, and don’t communicate too loudly, or consume. By doing so, you’ll stand out, and no longer in an effective way.

train travel is a great way to get around while living in japan

Long distance buses are reasonable in comparison to shinkansen and will in point of fact can help you persist with the cheap. The night time buses are even inexpensive and beautiful relaxed too. There’s a brand new on-line reserving gadget which is simple and approach you’ll be able to ebook in advance, rock up, and simply display an e-ticket for your telephone. There also are native bus networks in cities and towns that hook up with puts that the trains don’t achieve.

You’ll to find taxis in towns, steadily out of doors educate stations. Not precisely the cheap possibility, they’re to hand if you want to get on your lodging with heavy luggage or have ignored the ultimate educate house. Uber could also be an possibility, despite the fact that in reality costlier than taxis.

Renting a automotive is a pleasing concept if you wish to shuttle round while you’re residing in Japan. Cars will also be pricey and there’s such things as tolls to pay. Parking in towns will also be dear too. But there are some gorgeous coastal routes and winding mountain roads to pressure alongside.

Cycling in Japan is huge. Getting across the towns on two wheels is simple and secure. There’s even designated underground bicycle parking and the general public trip at the pavement.

  • Want extra Digital Nomad guides and data? Click right here to peer all our posts. 

Wi-Fi and Sim Cards in Japan

For all of Japan’s technological accomplishments, getting on-line isn’t as simple as you could suppose. Strange, I do know. While large educate stations, department stores, and comfort retail outlets have wireless, cafes don’t all the time, and in the event that they do, they won’t have energy sockets!

For a virtual nomad residing in Japan, discovering the appropriate chain of cafe goes to be key to getting some paintings completed. Caffe Veloce, Starbucks, and a few branches of Doutor come provided with wireless and sockets, as does McDonald’s and, my favourite reasonable circle of relatives eating place, Cafe Gusto.

Finding a co-working area isn’t too difficult in towns like Tokyo. Search on-line in your nearest one. Some be offering unfastened trials and are just right puts to satisfy people.

Another possibility is to hire pocket wireless and use it as a hot-spot; this turns each and every cafe into your pal. But it may be slightly pricey possibility — those vary from upwards of 1000¥ ($nine) in keeping with day.

You too can order a sim card packed stuffed with information sooner than you arrive and select it up the airport. Places corresponding to BIC Camera additionally promote sim playing cards, which you’ll be able to select up simply if you’re residing in Japan. Usually, in case you are a vacationer, you’ll be able to’t get a voice sim, which will also be irritating. But if getting on-line is all you want, you must be nice.

Must-Have Apps

Apps make residing in Japan such a lot more uncomplicated. That’s to not say you’ll be able to’t are living with out them, however easy such things as the usage of a washer generally is a minefield if you’ll be able to’t learn Japanese. Luckily there’s just right outdated Google Translate with its very to hand digicam function that will help you out. Hold the digicam over the textual content and confidently, it is going to make some sense.

Google Translate could also be wonderful for buying groceries and understanding what to reserve in eating places. I’ve even used it to test into inns with the speech serve as.

A nice technique to stay on most sensible of your on a regular basis bills as a virtual nomad in Japan is by way of the usage of Xe. Most most probably you received’t be paid in yen, and the simple app presentations an as much as the minute change fee. It’s nice for retaining you from going wild and spending an excessive amount of on the retail outlets or on shipping.

living in japan as a digital nomad

Using Google Maps is nearly very important relating to travelling round in Japan, it makes commuting on public shipping enjoyable and may even display you the most affordable possibility. Downloading Maps.me is all the time a good suggestion, particularly in the event you don’t have web for your telephone and you end up misplaced.

Then there’s that different facet of residing in Japan — earthquakes. If you’re in Japan lengthy sufficient, you’ll in all probability really feel the small wobble of an earthquake. It’s essential to understand what to do in the case of a large earthquake and stay up-to-date with such things as tsunami warnings or landslides. These are actual dangers, so having emergency apps is a good suggestion.

I’ve 3 such apps: Safety Tips, which comes with climate warnings and native recommendation; Japan Shelter, which informs you of your nearest emergency refuge; and Quakefeed, which indicators you to within reach quakes.

Things To Do in Japan

There are simply such a lot of issues to do in Japan, particularly outside. You can cross snorkeling in the subtropical south; you’ll be able to cross snowboarding anyplace from Nagano to Niseko; you’ll be able to hike one in all Japan’s many pilgrimage routes — together with Shikoku’s 88 Temples; and you’ll be able to cycle the Shimanami Kaido. And then there’s hiking iconic Mount Fuji.

Eating is an enormous hobby while you’re residing in Japan. You’ll by no means become bored in the event you’re partial to meals. There’s so a lot more to Japan’s meals than sushi and you’ll be able to merely spend your unfastened time consuming — like many Japanese other people do!

living in japan what to eat
Eating is a favorite hobby in Japan

The tune scene is colourful and gigs are occurring always, from punk to classical and techno. The gaming arcades are also a large deal in Japan; there are lots, and in the event you’re into gaming, you’re going to like residing in Japan.

Shopping could also be a in point of fact amusing factor to do. From high-end style and flea markets to 100-yen retail outlets, Japan is stuffed with alternatives to buy till you drop — ‘until overdue, too.

Another tip: by no means go by way of a temple or shrine in Japan with no need a glance. You by no means know what rite is occurring. Walk round and be enthralled.

Pros & Cons of Living in Japan As a Digital Nomad

There are many just right issues to residing in Japan as a virtual nomad, but it surely’s no longer really easy occasionally. So right here’s my breakdown:

Pros to Living in Japan

Rich and engaging tradition


Amazing shipping

Super blank

Ultra secure

Incredible meals

Not as pricey as you could suppose

Diverse panorama

Forward-thinking towns


Cool co-working areas

Trendy hostels

Hipster cafes

Four seasons to experience

Cons to Living in Japan

Can be dear and no longer for shoestring budgets

Language barrier makes issues very onerous

Not all the time simple to get on-line

You’ll stand out as a foreigner

Big towns can really feel keeping apart

Threat of herbal screw ups (together with typhoons)

In Conclusion

For virtual nomads, residing in Japan isn’t all the time simple, and it’s some distance from best possible. As a virtual nomad, it may be tricky now and then and also you’ll want to get ready for some stumbling blocks. Learning one of the vital language, particularly studying (it’s no longer that tricky), understanding the customs and assembly locals will can help you immerse your self in the group. 

Living in Japan approach with the ability to in point of fact enjoy the tradition of this extremely gorgeous nation. Japanese individuals are amazingly sort and a large number of amusing to hangout with — particularly on the izakayas (pubs). If you wish to have to enjoy distinctive tradition and attractive meals after an afternoon of labor, as a substitute of simply lazing round on a seaside, then residing in Japan is a wonderful possibility for you.  

The publish Living in Japan: A Guide For Digital Nomads gave the impression first on Goats On The Road.


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