Published 19th October 2019
When you’re looking for a job teaching English as a foreign language, one of the factors you need to consider is where to teach. The first step is to decide which continent you’re interested in, then you can do your research and find out which countries suit your interests and qualifications (and your passport!). If you know you’re interested in Asia, you’re probably considering Thailand, South Korea or China. But have you thought about Japan? Big cities, small towns, traditional villages, ski resorts, tropical islands – no matter what you’re looking for, Japan might have your dream destination. Not sure where to look? Here are the best cities to teach English in Japan.
Tokyo is probably the first place you think of when you think of Japan, and that’s not surprising. Japan definitely ticks all the bright lights and big city boxes, as well as satisfying all your kinky, geeky or artistic urges. It is the very definition of a megacity with over 25 million residents, so if you’re looking for somewhere quiet and peaceful, this is not it!
Tokyo is where you’ll find the biggest demand for English language teachers in Japan so there is no shortage of EFL jobs. Because of the efficient public transport system it’s also possible to live in the suburbs but work in the city, which opens up a lot more jobs for you, and while the cost of living is higher than in other Japanese cities, the pay is higher too.
Osaka might not be Tokyo but it’s just as vibrant and a tad more affordable. It is known as Japan’s kitchen and it’s famous for a range of delicacies, including takoyaki (fried octopus balls), kitsune udon (noodles with deep-fried tofu) and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes).
Being Japan’s second biggest city, there are a fair amount of jobs to be found in Osaka. There are a range of teaching jobs to suit any teacher, from kindergarten through to university.
If you want to take a step away from the big cities, then you should come to Kyoto. Kyoto is a beautifully historic town which is known for its temples, shrines, palaces and gardens – and 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites! It’s especially popular with tourists in Spring when the cherry blossoms are out, and Autumn when the leaves change colour.
Sapporo is one for the ski bunnies. Its six months of winter mean that it has the best snow on offer in Japan. It’s the largest city on the island of Hokkaido, and, besides winter sports, it is known for its Snow Festival and beer! If you enjoy being outdoors and don’t mind a bit of cold, Sapporo is the place for you.
You might not be familiar with Fukuoka but it’s Japan’s sixth-largest city and the main city on the island of Kyushu. With parks, temples and beaches, Fukuoka offers a side of Japan that not many people realise is there. Interestingly, Fukuoka is actually closer to Seoul than Tokyo, and with its busy airport Fukuoka is actually a good base from which to travel around Asia.
There you have it: five amazing options for you if you want to teach English in Japan. We must give you one word of warning though: the EFL market in Japan is very competitive. While there are plenty of opportunities if you are happy to be a teaching assistant through the JET programme, it might take you a while to find an independent TEFL job. It’s by no means impossible, but make sure you give yourself enough time to do your research to find the perfect job for you. It’s quite common to land in Japan without a job and find one while you are there, so if you are the adventurous type this might be the way to do it.