Posted on October 21, 2019 | By Isabelle Sudron
15th Jul 2019
Most EFL teachers starting out their search for a country to work will have heard that Japan is the golden goose of TEFL destinations. There’s no end of reasons that Japan is a fantastic place to live (or travel) but here’s a handful of reasons to teach English in Japan.
#1 There’s more to Japan than Tokyo
If you’re under the impression that the whole of Japan is like the futuristic capital city of Tokyo, you’d be mistaken. Each individual city has its own unique reasons to teach English in Japan. There are a whole host of different kinds of places to live, from traditional Kyoto to quirky Osaka and historic Nagoya. So, if you’re not into skyscrapers, j-pop or anime, there’s plenty more to see. Alternatively, if you do like the idea of Tokyo but you’d like a bit more variation, you can use the famous Japanese trains to zoom to different cities at the weekend.
#2 Tasty, simple (affordable) food
Aside from many of the Japanese dishes you’ll likely already have heard of, like sushi, ramen and tempura, there are all sorts of delicious meals to indulge in. There are a number of rich curries, flavoursome soups and homey rice dishes are all for the taking! Plus, once you get the lay of the land in your new home country, you’ll find that not every dish cost an arm and a leg. There are lots of high-quality restaurants that offer dishes for a perfectly reasonable price. And you wouldn’t be the first person to have food as one of their deciding reasons to teach English in Japan.
A few delightful dishes you might not have heard of include yakitori – grilled chicken, onigiri – a rice snack wrapped with seaweed and topped with some salty fish or pickled fruit, udon – chunky noodles served with a broth, and katsudon – rice served with breaded fried pork and other ingredients.
#3 Marvellous culture – both new and old!
Japan has thousands of years of culture at its disposal, many of which is still around today! From the ancient sports, like sumo wrestling, kendo and karate, to the age-old religion of Shintoism and all the impressive Shinto Shrines to go with it. Even the way that food and drinks are prepared has ancient traditions behind it, from the traditional tea ceremonies to precisely prepared sushi and sashimi.
On the other hand, Japan has plenty of contemporary culture – some of it totally futuristic in comparison to the country’s traditional side. Japanese anime and manga has a cult following both in and out of the country, quirky themed cafes have sprung up all over Tokyo (including cat cafes and robot cafes) and Japanese fashion is known for being forward thinking and modern.
#4 It doesn’t have to be forever
One of the struggles many new TEFL teachers come up against is finding a contract length that suits them. Although it wouldn’t be fair to say that the Japanese teaching contracts are ‘flexible’, you will find a range of different contract lengths on offer. There are both positions on online jobs boards to teach for a few months (usually over summer) or for an entire year. If you’re keen to find a good work-life balance, this could be one of the best reasons to teach English in Japan.
#5 The salary isn’t to be sniffed at
Visiting Japan can be extremely expensive – let alone living there! However, being an EFL teacher in Japan can be pretty well paid and afford you both a comfortable lifestyle and room to make savings too.
The cost of living tends to be $1,600 or more per month in Japan and you can expect to be paid a minimum of $2,200 per month for a full time English teacher position. Many positions offer a higher salary with top earning roles reportedly offering up to $5,000 per month. (Though you would need top qualifications, including a teaching license, as well as teaching experience to land these roles!) Plus, teaching privately can pay a pretty penny of $35 per hour.
#6 You might get a few extra benefits
One of the best reasons to teach English in Japan is the fantastic benefits that come with a contract here. On top of a comfortable salary, many TEFL positions also come with extra perks. Some jobs include a working visa, a return flight from your home country and free accommodation. If you’re lucky, you might also get some social and educational activities thrown in there too, such as Japanese lessons or meet up with other teachers.
#7 The holidays aren’t too bad either
If you sign up for a job in Japan as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) then you will find yourself with plenty of vacation days. In fact, some teachers get as many as 15 weeks off per year! Other teaching positions at public schools offer similar benefits – so you’ll find there’s more than enough time to explore the country.
#8 Great students and great teachers!
Education means a lot to the Japanese and teachers are highly respected. In most of your lessons, you’ll find hardworking students scribbling away in their workbooks and diligently practising their grammar. Plus, the Japanese have a strong work ethic, so you’ll find teachers are just as keen to get their heads down and keep busy. Of course, there are always a couple of exceptions but as a general rule the Japanese students are fantastic people to work with. But if you’re looking for rewarding work and perhaps that warm, fuzzy feeling when you leave school in the evening, this could be one of the top reasons to teach English in Japan.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like our guide: Everything you need to know about teaching English in Japan.