Living in Tokyo

Living in Tokyo

I had a great experience doing a working holiday in Tokyo. There’s so much to say but for now, I’d like to share some tips and give my advice from when I used to live in the city (2016-2017).

What you’ll notice about living in Japan


£2000 minimum. It would be best to have this amount for the first three months. This could be for anything from food, rent, medicine, to any emergencies that might occur. But £2000 is not enough to go travelling a lot during your working holiday. My recommendation is to work part time if you want to do so here and there. Make sure to save up a lot while working in Japan then travel in your last three months.

Japanese Level

Once you get past the 日本語が上手ですね!comments, N3 level is where you need to be. If you have experience and want to work ever harder especially in corporate jobs, you should be at least an N2/N1 level. Surround yourself more with circles who speak Japanese more than your native language to get better, it’ll really help.

What to Pack

Essentials such as clothes, adapters and currency are obvious things to bring but these are ones that I think are mandatory. A full list can be found here:


  • Deodorant
  • First Aid Kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Medication


Bring spare copies.

  • CV/Resume
  • Degree Certification
  • JLPT Certification (if needed)
  • Passport
  • Travel Insurance (coverwise and insureandgo)


  • Powerbank
  • SIM card


Yes, you can write it on your phone or online but having it in writing is very useful. It’s helpful for what you need before coming to Japan and when you get there.

  • Contacts
  • Passwords

Black Hairdressers

I didn’t get my hair done in Tokyo but please refer to Christina Bellevue’s A Black Traveler’s Guide to Japanese Beautyy (2023) for all things haircare, skincare and nails.

Tips from Me

  1. Visit the country before deciding to live there or not. Look around the many cities and towns you go to and see if you can live there. Can you work there? Are you able to make friends there? However, if you like to be surprised before travelling there, do so if you want to.
  2. Get your vaccines (if you don’t live in Asia, you’re going to a whole new continent with a whole lot of bugs, food, weather etc.) Hep A and Hep B is enough for Japan but if you want to be recommended more, see here.
  3. Best bank accounts to start with Japan Post Bank and Shinsei Bank. The latter is supposed to be really good with international money transfers.
  4. Register at Town Hall as soon as possible (English speaking helpers will do their best to help).
  5. Microaggressions and discrimination will happen. As a Black woman, I already stood out physically but mentally I tried to blend in. I noticed before interviews, they will still be surprised to see you when you’re called in but will ask you to add your picture to your CV/resume. There will also be times when if your Japanese is poor and you might be treated differently (especially if you are not white), then you’ll experience the meaning of honne and tatamae.
  6. For working in corporate, companies will want to know if you have taken the JLPT test and what level you took. It depends with part-time jobs. If you want a job with no Japanese, you’ll have to work at a factory or cafe with other foreigners.
  7. Like many major cities, there’s lot of events around Japan so find what your interests are (e.g books, music, gaming) and search for groups or communities especially on Instagram and Tiktok.
  8. If you’re about an N4/N3 level, you should be able to: purchase contacts, booking a coach ticket, gym membership and buy medicine.
  9. You can buy cheaper medication at CreateSD, Aeon and Ito Yokado.
  10. If you want to travel or shorten your working holiday and are worried about immigration, please check here.

Job Sites

For the best time to look for jobs, January/February is the best time for the approaching school year (March/April) for you to move to Japan.

Places to Live In

GG House is the only place I enjoyed staying at – it was cleaned once a week, staff in the Nippori office speak English, Mandarin and Japanese and the space you have to cook and relax in are decent. My only complaint is that we had to send money for rent by fax. These were the only photos I could take at the time. On the opposite side, World Unite’s Shiohama House is one to avoid.

Alternatively, areas I’d recommend staying at would be Kita-Senju, Nakameguro, Nippori, Oji and Yoyogi.

Days Out/Excursions


A few favourites I had that are still open.

Non-Japanese options

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