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The Call of the East- Americans Moving to Tokyo

Monday, March 27, 2023
A dad smiling at the camera while holding up his two young children

Sometimes there comes a moment in life when you want to uproot what you know and discover and explore what you do not. Such as what the world is like for an American living in the East, in particular, in Japan. A call is a call, and sometimes it is best to jump on the bandwagon and answer it, instead of denying it any longer. So, how do you move to Tokyo as an American? But, first, it is always good to start with the…

Reasons to Move to Japan

A Japanese girl in a classroom leaning on her open book, on a desk while looking through the window>

Besides the undeniable call of the East, or Japan, in this case, there are multiple reasons that people from the US choose to move to Japan. It can be for the adventure of exploring a new language, world, food tastes, architecture (for urban and rural), overall culture, and way of life. Furthermore, it can also be for a large number of job opportunities and a higher quality of life. And, interesting forms of entertainment from anime, and manga, to the theater.

An increase in the quality of living can also equal a salary increase. This is a bonus; however, it can also mean an increase in the cost of living. This is something to keep in mind if you are planning to immigrate to Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun is known for being one of the most expensive countries to live in, certainly without a job. But, it can be because of this that Japan has amazing healthcare, a variety of nutritious foods as well as many high-performing schools for children. However, this is merely a theory.

Also, a lot of people move from one side of the world to another due to love, or marriage. Or family as a whole. There are many reasons to move to Japan. But, sometimes the call of adventure and a change of life is enough to get on the keyboard and start looking at how to move. Now that the “why” is out of the way, let’s move on to the…

Job Opportunities in Japan and Visa

A couple leaning on the fence of a balcony looking at the city of Tokyo while it is night time

Well, since the cost and standard of living are quite high in Tokyo, it can allude to the notion that life in the city is all about working and keeping a job. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the first thing many American citizens who do not have Japanese citizenship do is apply for a job. This is before they even step foot on the island. You would want to apply for a job in a Tokyo-based company. Doing this can also open you up for the company to start the visa application process for you. That is if you get accepted for the role.

Let’s say you do, the Tokyo-based company will issue you what is known as a Certificate of Eligibility. This is the proof that you need to show that you have a sponsor in the form of a job from that particular company. That you will have financial support since you will have a job when you make Tokyo your new home.

Furthermore, there are a variety of visas that you can apply for when you have that much-desired Certificate of Eligibility. Such as if you are an/a: 

  • Artists (such as craftspeople, songwriters, composers, photographers, sculptors, etc. basically people backstage)
  • Entertainers (like a performer, musicians, a singer, an actor, a sportsperson, a dancer, etc. someone who is watched)
  • Engineers (Be it IT, civil, or scientific, etc.)
  • Lawyer or someone in the accounting services (but you would have to be certified in Japan)
  • Teacher/ Instructor (for elementary or intermediate, or high schools)
  • News journalist (or even if you are just a cameraman)
  • Business manager or investor
  • Medical services professional (but, again, you would have to be certified in Japan)
  • Professor and/ or their assistants 
  • Specialist in humanities or International Services (like a foreign language teacher, interpreter, etc.)
  • Investigator and/ or researchers
  • Person who is known as a skilled laborer (like a chef, sports trainer, animal trainer, pilot, etc.)

You can also apply for a highly skilled foreign professional visa or for a visa that covers moving for religious activities. Plus, there is also the General Visa which is for cultural activities. This can cover unpaid interns or people studying Japanese culture including tea ceremonies, as well as flower arrangements. If you are a college student then you can apply for a student visa, obviously. If you are in training to work for the Japanese Government, then you can apply for a training visa that covers that.

Not to mention the family stay visas for children or spouses of Japanese citizens. While we are on this subject, there are also visas for spouses or children of permanent residents. As the name suggests, you would not have to be married to or related to a Japanese citizen. And, there is also a visa if you have Japanese ancestry, or are from a line of Indochinese refugee settlers.

Three friends standing in front of a painted wall, posing for the camera

Regardless of which Japan Visa you aim to apply for, it is important that you do your research beforehand. Such as making sure your passport is valid, and a recent photo of your face, as well as filling in the visa application form. And, of course, the Certificate of Eligibility. For one thing, as a US citizen, you are unable to apply for a Working Holiday Visa. But, if you want to check out Tokyo before you immigrate, then you can apply for a Japan Tourist Visa. This one allows you to go sightseeing in Japan, and even attend conferences. Furthermore, it is valid for 90 days. 

You can also opt to apply for a double-entry visa if you want to go for two short visits (which are 30 days each) within half a year. The downside is that you cannot do paid work while on these visas.

Move to Tokyo Easily With Shyft

Housing (or Rather Apartmenting) in Tokyo

A man in a blue t-shirt standing outdoors, in front of apartments buildings in Tokyo

Housing hunting in Tokyo is more of an apartment search than anything else. These include high-rise and modern establishments to small apartments where using the space well is much-needed. But, if you really want to live in a house then you would have to go outside of Tokyo to find one. 

There is a variety on the outskirts of the city such as more traditional-looking homes, or ones that can remind you more of your old home. While the rent for an apartment or buying a house in Tokyo can be on the pricey side there is the bonus that anyone can own property. This means that you do not have to wait to become a citizen to own a place to live in Japan.

But, the process of obtaining a house/ apartment on a permanent basis can be a tough one. Certainly, if you are not a permanent resident or have Japanese citizenship. Or if you are not married to a person with Japanese citizenship. Until the process is sorted you would have to rent out a home to live in. Or you can start the application process of becoming a permanent resident.

Japanese Education

If you have children, then you would want to consider enrolling them in an international school. There are plenty in Tokyo that offer different types of curriculum. This means that you can keep your kids in the US schooling system while living in Tokyo. To give you a tiny bit of background on the schooling system in Japan, children start going to school from the age of six years old. They are in school for nine years, and it is compulsory. The school terms start from April until March of the following year. And, a typical school day is from 8:15 am to 3:15 pm.

But, it would also be advisable that you do some schooling as well in the form of language school. Japanese is a useful language to pick up and get to grips with. This is not just because you are moving to Japan to speak to the locals, but also to order food, get around with the public directions, and more. You can even start the learning process now, since Japanese may not be an easy-to-pick-up language.

Healthcare System in Japan

When you move to Tokyo you would want to get yourself and your family into a healthcare system as soon as you can. You can do this as soon as you receive your residency card (ID for foreigners). You can choose between two healthcare systems in Japan. One is the Japanese National Health Insurance. This one covers students, as well as part-time or unemployed people. The other healthcare system is the standard Japanese Health Insurance which is for full-time employees.

Moving to Tokyo the Shyft Way

A close up of Japanese lady looking at the camera while standing outdoor close to a river, on a windy day>

When you have all your papers in order, got your new job in Tokyo, or found out that you have a bloodline there, etc. then it would be the best time to organize your moving process. Now, you can do it by yourself, looking for a moving company, alone, making your inventory list, alone, or asking for advice from yourself, alone. Or you can use Shyft services to help you with the entire moving process from the start to beyond the end.

Shyft is known as the world's first tech-driven moving platform where we organize your whole moving process for you, virtually. All you need to do is pick your moving date, the size of your move as well as who else you are moving with and head down to our secure Shyft Moving website to fill out the short form to get in touch with your own Move Coach.

From here the Move Coach will contact you through Shyft Next which is a mobile app that is free for your Android, or iPhone. This is the way that your Move Coach will contact you at the time that you say. Not after, or before your wanted time. It is during this first call, which is a video one, that you get to meet your real-life Move Coach. 

It is here that you can ask questions, ask for advice, and get more information, and they make your inventory list right virtually there and then. You just have to give a “virtual tour” of your current US home, and they will take down all the items. And, you only have to show the inside of one closet. When the call is over and done, you will receive your inventory list within half an hour. This version is 95% accurate and you can fill in the missing 5%. You can add items, remove some, and even leave notes on the virtual representation of the items.

Group of friends talking and sitting around a table in a coffee shop discussing the move to Japan

When you are happy with the new and improved inventory list you send it to your Move Coach who will take it and all your moving details (excluding your personal ones) to Shyft’s secure move board where moving companies come to bid. Professional, experienced, and legal moving companies gather here to bid on projects, yours included.

It is through this process that we gather three or more moving quotes where each one is from a different mover. These quotes will be presented to you as well as information about the company. Furthermore, the companies will be international movers meaning they have experience in moving people across the seas.

What is more, is that all the quotes are fixed and based on your 100% inventory list. So, if you add a new item to the list then the price will not change. You choose the moving company you want to work with, and we book them straight away. And, throughout the whole moving process, you can contact us 7 days a week when you have a question or want to check up on the process. We await your call or form and will gladly help you get to your Japanese new home.

A group of young Japanese students wearing face paint while being outdoors for national holiday