Around 300,000 international students are currently studying at universities, junior colleges, professional schools and other educational institutions in Japan. Their number has been increasing rapidly since the 1980s, with a majority of the students coming from China and Vietnam.
If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries, with which Japan has a "general visa exemption arrangement", you need only a valid passport to study at a Japanese language school for short periods of time (generally up to 90 days). All other foreign students in Japan need a student visa in order to study in Japan. Visa applicants require an educational institution as their sponsor in order to obtain a student visa.
Student visa holders are not allowed to engage in any paid activities, unless they get the permission of the school and the immigration office. Even then, students may work only a set maximum number of hours per week. Working on a tourist visa is prohibited.
Japanese language schools exist in many cities across Japan, ranging from informal conversation schools to government recognized institutions that offer preparatory courses for students to enroll at universities.
There are language schools for all proficiency levels, and courses of different durations from just a few weeks to more than one year.
The Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) is a standard examination that simplifies the process of admission to Japanese universities for international students.
The examination covers the Japanese language, science, mathematics, Japan and the World and is held biannually in Japan and selected cities outside of Japan. The examination can be written in Japanese or English (except the section on Japanese language).
Almost all national universities and many public and private universities use the EJU as admission criteria for international students, while the others apply their own entrance exams.
Naturally, most university courses in Japan are only available in Japanese. However, a small number of universities offer four-year undergraduate degrees with courses taught entirely in English. Furthermore, several universities offer one or more English courses at a master's and/or doctoral level.
Scholarships and Exchange Programs
Scholarship programs for international students are provided by the Japanese government, local governments, the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) and private organizations, foundations and companies in Japan and abroad.
Likewise, there are various governmental bodies, organizations and educational institutions inside and outside of Japan that offer short term exchange programs for secondary and post secondary students to study in Japan and experience life in Japan.