Cost of Living in Japan in 2024: Rent, Food & Study Costs

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Dreaming of studying in the Land of the Rising Sun? With its rich culture, cutting-edge technology, and world-class education, Japan is a top destination for international students exploring the cost of living in Japan.

Did you know? According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India, over 1300 Indian students ventured to Japan for higher education in late 2023.

It’s important to know how much it costs to live in Japan. From tasty ramen to good public transport, knowing how to manage your money will help you have a smooth and worry-free time.

Therefore, we have curated this comprehensive guide, which investigates in detail the average expenses you’ll encounter as an international student in Japan, from rent and transportation to food. 

Buckle up and get ready to explore the exciting world of studying in Japan!

Key Highlights

Explore key highlights, including cost of living insights, city-wise variations, accommodation tips, tuition fees of top universities, and strategies for managing daily expenses and transportation costs effectively. 

Educational ExcellenceThe University of Tokyo and Osaka University are ranked among the top 50 universities in the world
Career OpportunitiesA degree from a Japanese university is highly respected globally, enhancing career prospects
Adventure and ExplorationJapan’s diverse landscape offers both urban excitement and rural serenity, providing ample exploration opportunities
Cost of Living OverviewMonthly living costs for international students in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka can vary, with estimates of around (₹63,750) per month for basic expenses
City-wise Cost VariationsCosts differ significantly across cities, with Tokyo being the most expensive and other cities like Fukuoka being more affordable
Accommodation TipsOptions like shared apartments and student dormitories can help reduce living costs
Food and Daily ExpensesCooking at home and utilising student discounts can help manage daily expenses effectively
TransportationMonthly passes and student discounts on public transport can significantly reduce commuting costs
Scholarships and Financial AidVarious scholarships, such as the MEXT, JASSO, and ADB programs, are available to support international students financially while studying in Japan
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Why Choose Japan? 

Japan offers a unique blend of cutting-edge technology, ancient traditions, and a culture that’s captured imaginations for centuries. Studying abroad in Japan goes way deeper than just textbooks. 

Here’s why it might be the perfect destination for you:

Experience World-Class Education

  • Japan consistently ranks high in global education rankings. The QS World University Rankings 2024 lists two Japanese universities within the top 50- the University of Tokyo at number 28, and Kyoto University at 48 
  • A degree from a Japanese institution gives you a globally recognized qualification that sets you apart from the crowd.

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Cost of Living in Japan in 2024: Rent, Food & Study Costs

Immerse Yourself in Innovation

  • Japan is a global leader in technological advancements. Did you know that they hold the record for the fastest commercial train in the world, the Shinkansen, reaching speeds of over 200 mph?
  • This environment fosters creativity and opens doors to exciting internships and career opportunities in high-tech fields.

Imagine interning at a company like Sony or working on the next generation of robotics!

Additional Benefits

  • Safety and Security: Japan boasts a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and a strong sense of community
  • Affordability: Compared to the USA or UK, Japan offers relatively affordable tuition fees and a moderate cost of living
  • Language Learning: Living and studying in Japan is an immersive way to learn Japanese, a valuable skill that can open doors to future career opportunities in Asia and beyond.

Cost of living in Japan Per Month in Indian Rupees 

As we mentioned earlier, the cost of living in Japan can vary significantly depending on your location and lifestyle choices. Below, we have provided a detailed overview of the various expenses you might encounter. 

Note: Remember, these are just estimates, your actual costs can vary depending on your location, lifestyle choices, and spending habits.

  • Accommodation (₹14,100 – ₹33,200): 

This covers your housing costs. Location is key here.

  • Expect higher rents in major cities like Tokyo compared to smaller towns or suburbs. The type of accommodation also matters 
  • Rents are dependent on factors like size, amenities offered, and proximity to your university when making your choice
  • Food (₹9,400 – ₹14,100): 

Groceries and eating out are included here. 

  • The good news is Japan offers a variety of budget-friendly options 
  • You can find affordable ingredients at supermarkets and convenience stores, and many restaurants offer set meals (teishoku) at reasonable prices. 
  • Utilities (₹4,700 – ₹7,000): 

This covers your electricity, water, gas, and internet bills. Usage can affect the cost. 

  • Expect higher bills during winter months due to heating needs
  • Choosing energy-efficient appliances and being mindful of your usage can help keep utility costs under control
  • Transportation (₹4,700 – ₹7,000): 

Local transport like commuter passes or bus fares fall under this category. 

  • Costs depend on how often you travel and the distance between your accommodation and the university.
  • Miscellaneous (₹4,700 – ₹9,400): This is a category for expenses like phone bills, personal care items, clothing, entertainment, and leisure activities
  • This is where your spending habits come into play. Budgeting for these expenses is crucial, and there are ways to save

Cost of living in Japan for Indians: City-wise distribution 

Japan offers a unique cultural experience for international students. However, before embarking on their studies, it’s crucial to understand the cost of living, which can vary significantly depending on the chosen city.

This guide provides an overview of living expenses in Japan, highlighting the impact of location on your budget. By understanding these variations, international students can make informed decisions when selecting a city to study in.

Navigating City Costs:

Now, let’s explore the estimated monthly living costs (excluding tuition fees) for international students in some popular Japanese cities:

CityTotal Estimated Monthly Cost

Let’s take the example of Mohan to understand how much he spends monthly as an international student living in Tokyo Japan. 

Mohan opts for a shared apartment (₹2,886.10), cooks most meals at home (₹1,649.20), and utilizes a monthly transportation pass (₹989.52). Her estimated monthly expenses would be around ₹5,524.82, significantly lower than the average for a studio apartment.

Navigating through the options for universities can be quite a task, especially when you’re looking at the top-tier institutions in a country renowned for its educational standards. 

Therefore, below, you’ll find a straightforward guide to the top 5 universities in Japan, along with their average annual tuition fees for international students, so that you can figure out the average cost of living in Japan in a more customised manner. This should help you make an informed decision on where you might want to apply.

Top 5 Universities in Japan

Japan boasts a world-class education system, with universities consistently ranking high in global metrics. 

If you’re aiming for an exceptional academic experience, here are the top 5 universities in Japan for international students, along with their estimated annual tuition fees (excluding living expenses):

  1. The University of Tokyo (UTokyo): Ranked 28th globally, UTokyo is a frontrunner in research and innovation across various disciplines. From science and engineering to humanities and social sciences, UTokyo offers a comprehensive range of programs. Expect to pay an average of ₹5,10,687 annually in tuition fees.
  1. Kyoto University: Steeped in tradition and academic excellence, Kyoto University is renowned for its strengths in research, science, and law. The university fosters a vibrant international community and offers several programs in English.  The average annual tuition fee is around ₹3,34,875.
  1. Osaka University: Located in Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area, Osaka University offers a dynamic learning environment.  The university is known for its research focus on medicine, engineering, and social sciences.  Annual tuition fees average around ₹3,98,750.
  1. Tohoku University: A leading research university in northeastern Japan, Tohoku University excels in fields like science, medicine, and agriculture. It provides a strong foundation for careers in research and development.  The average annual tuition fee is approximately ₹3,70,625.
  1. Hokkaido University: Situated on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido University offers a unique blend of academic excellence and natural beauty. It’s a leader in agriculture, environmental sciences, and medicine research.  Expect to pay an average of ₹3,98,750 annually in tuition fees.

Beyond the Rankings:

Remember, university rankings shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor. Consider these aspects when making your choice:

  • Program Offerings: Ensure the university offers programs that align with your academic interests and career goals
  • Research Focus: Does the university’s research focus resonate with your research aspirations (if applicable)?
  • Location: Urban or rural setting? Consider your personal preferences and lifestyle choices
  • International Student Support: Research the level of support the university provides for international students

Top 10 courses to study in Japan

Japan’s educational landscape offers a plethora of exciting programs for international students.  Here are the top 10 courses to consider, catering to diverse interests and career aspirations:

Course CategoryDetails
Engineering & TechnologyFocus on robotics, artificial intelligence, electronics, mechanical engineering, or materials science to gain a competitive edge in these rapidly evolving sectors
Business & ManagementDevelop skills in international business, finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship to prepare for success across various industries
Japanese Language & CultureImmerse in the Japanese language and culture, developing fluency and a deep understanding of Japanese history, traditions, and society. Career paths include translation, interpretation, education, or international relations
Data ScienceEquip yourself with skills in data science, big data analytics, or machine learning to analyze complex datasets and address real-world challenges
Pharmaceutical SciencesStudy pharmacy, pharmacology, or drug discovery in Japan’s robust pharmaceutical industry to contribute to healthcare advancements
Animation & Film StudiesEngage in animation, film production, or storytelling, tapping into Japan’s strong presence in these creative fields
Fine Arts & DesignPursue degrees in graphic design, fashion design, fine arts, or architecture, enhancing your artistic talents in Japan’s vibrant art scene
International Relations & Area StudiesGain insights into international relations with a focus on Asia, studying international relations, political science, or Japanese studies to build skills for careers in international organizations or global affairs
Environmental Sciences & SustainabilityAddress environmental challenges through studies in environmental science, renewable energy, or sustainability, preparing to contribute to a more sustainable future
Healthcare & MedicineNavigate Japan’s competitive healthcare system with studies in nursing, public health, or healthcare management, requiring fluency in Japanese for more advanced medical fields

Scholarship to Reduce Cost of Living in Japan

The cost of studying in Japan can be significant, but don’t let that deter your dreams! Numerous scholarships are available to help ease the financial burden for international students. Here’s a breakdown of some key scholarship options:

Government Scholarships:

  • Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship: This prestigious scholarship offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) provides full financial support, including tuition fees, a monthly stipend, and travel expenses. It’s highly competitive, so academic excellence is crucial

Are you curious to know more about MEXT scholarships? Read our article! 

University Scholarships:

  • Many universities in Japan offer scholarships specifically for international students. These scholarships can vary in amount and eligibility criteria. Research individual university websites for details on their scholarship offerings.
Scholarship NameOffered ByLevel of Study
MEXT ScholarshipsMinistry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)Undergraduate, Research
Sato Yo International ScholarshipThe Nippon FoundationUndergraduate, Postgraduate
University-Specific ScholarshipsVarious Japanese Universities, including the University of Tokyo and the Osaka University, offer scholarshipUndergraduate, Postgraduate

Other Scholarship Options:

  • Embassy/Consulate Scholarships:  Several countries offer scholarships to their citizens studying abroad.  Check with your home country’s embassy or consulate in Japan to explore these options.
  • Private Foundations & Organizations:  Numerous private foundations and organisations offer scholarships and all kinds of assistance to international students in specific fields of study.

Tips for Securing Scholarships:

  • Start your research early: Scholarship applications often have deadlines several months in advance. Begin your research well before application periods to ensure you meet all requirements.
  • Demonstrate academic excellence: Strong academic performance is a key factor for most scholarships. Focus on maintaining high grades and showcasing your academic achievements.
  • Craft compelling application essays: Scholarship applications often require essays outlining your academic goals and motivations for studying in Japan. Tailor your essays to each scholarship opportunity and highlight your unique qualities.
  • Seek guidance from your university: Many universities have dedicated staff who can assist international students with scholarship applications. Don’t hesitate to utilize their expertise.

By diligently researching scholarships and employing smart budgeting strategies, you can make studying in Japan a financially viable reality. 

With hard work, dedication, and a little financial aid, you can make your dream of studying in the Land of the Rising Sun a reality.

How to Reduce the Average Cost Of Living in Japan? 

Living and studying in Japan can be an enriching experience, but managing your finances is crucial. Here are some practical strategies to help you reduce your cost of living in Japan:

Accommodation Hacks:

  • Consider Shared Housing or Student Dorms: Ditch the solo apartment and opt for shared housing or student dormitories. This can significantly reduce your monthly rent, especially in major cities.
  • Consider Location: While central locations offer convenience, explore options in suburbs or smaller cities where rent may be lower.
  • Utilize Online Resources: Websites like GaijinPot and Tokyo Craiglist post apartment listings, often with student-friendly options.

Evaluate Your Shopping Expertise:

  • Embrace Supermarkets: Japanese supermarkets are a treasure trove of delicious and affordable ingredients. Learn basic Japanese cooking and prepare meals at home to save from eating out regularly.
  • Explore Discount Stores: Discount stores like Don Quijote (Donki) and Daiso offer a variety of everyday items at bargain prices.
  • Utilise Student Discounts: Many restaurants and shops offer student discounts. Don’t hesitate to ask if one is available when purchasing.

Save on Transportation:

  • Invest in a Monthly Pass: Public transportation in Japan is efficient and affordable. Invest in a monthly train or bus pass to navigate the city and explore surrounding areas without breaking the bank. Consider cycling for short commutes within your neighbourhood.
  • Utilize Discount Travel Options: Japan offers several discount travel passes, like the JR Pass, for exploring different regions at a reduced cost. Look for student discounts on travel fares.

Consider Free and Fun Activities:

  • Immerse Yourself in Culture: Japan boasts numerous free or low-cost activities. Visit temples, stroll through beautiful parks, or attend cultural festivals. Explore free museum days or library resources.
  • Embrace Nature: Hiking in Mount Fuji or exploring scenic landscapes is a fantastic (and free) way to experience Japan’s natural beauty.
  • Join Student Clubs: Many universities have clubs dedicated to various interests, from sports and music to cultural activities. Joining these clubs can be a fun and affordable way to connect with others while exploring your hobbies.

Additional Money-Saving Strategies:

  • Second-Hand Treasures: Thrift stores and online marketplaces like Mercari abound in Japan, offering gently used furniture, and textbooks at a fraction of the retail price. You can find hidden gems and save a significant amount of money.
  • Part-Time Work: Working part-time allows you to gain valuable experience, improve your Japanese language skills, and earn additional income to support your living expenses. Explore opportunities in restaurants, cafes, or tutoring positions. Remember, there’s a limit of 28 hours per week, so prioritize your studies!
  • Utilize Technology: Take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots and utilize online resources for communication and entertainment. Consider using e-books instead of buying expensive textbooks.

Remember: Budgeting is an ongoing process. Track your expenses regularly to identify areas where you can cut back. Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategies and embrace a frugal lifestyle to maximise your budget and ensure a fulfilling experience in Japan.


We’ve provided a detailed breakdown of living costs across various cities in Japan, helping you plan your budget and select a location that meets your financial needs.

Additionally, we’ve showcased some of Japan’s top universities, highlighting their academic excellence and diverse program offerings.

Scholarship opportunities, as discussed, can significantly reduce the financial challenges of studying abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is the cost of living in Japan for a student?

    A: The average monthly cost of living for a student in Japan, excluding tuition fees, is approximately ₹63,750. This includes accommodation, food, transportation, and utilities. But, of course, it may vary depending on the city you live in. For Tokyo, it is ₹97,000, for Osaka, it is ₹80,000, for Kyoto, it is ₹70,000, and for Fukuoka, it is ₹62,000

  • Q: How does the cost of living in Tokyo compare to other cities in Japan?

    A: Tokyo is generally more expensive compared to other cities like Osaka or Fukuoka. The estimated monthly cost in Tokyo can go up to around ₹97,000, while in cities like Fukuoka, it might be around ₹62,000.

  • Q: Is Japan expensive for Indians?

    A: Yes, Japan can be relatively expensive for Indians, especially in urban centres like Tokyo and Osaka, where the cost of living is high. You’ll find that daily expenses and accommodation costs are significantly higher compared to many cities in India. However, with prudent budgeting and lifestyle adjustments, these costs can be managed.

  • Q: What is the average cost of living in Japan?

    A: The average cost of living in Japan typically ranges from ¥200,000 to ¥300,000 per month, depending on the city and your lifestyle. This estimate includes expenses for housing, food, transportation, and entertainment. Living in metropolitan areas tends to be more expensive than in rural areas.

  • Q: How much is rent in Japan per month?

    A: Rent in Japan varies significantly based on location and apartment size. In major cities like Tokyo, you can expect to pay anywhere from ₹60,000 to ₹90,000 per month for a modest one-bedroom apartment, while in smaller cities or the countryside, rent can be as low as ₹30,000 per month.

  • Q: Where is the cheapest place to live in Japan?

    A: The cheapest places to live in Japan are generally found in rural regions or smaller cities such as Kagoshima, Kochi, and Akita, where the cost of living is substantially lower. These areas offer lower rent, reduced daily expenses, and a quieter lifestyle compared to the bustling metropolitan centers.

  • Q: Which city in Japan is best for Indians?

    A: Tokyo and Osaka are often considered the best cities for Indians in Japan due to their large, diverse expatriate communities and the availability of amenities catering to international residents. These cities offer numerous job opportunities, international schools, and a vibrant cultural scene that can make the transition easier for Indians.

  • Q: Can international students work in Japan while studying?

    A: International students in Japan can work part-time for up to 28 hours per week during the semester, providing an opportunity to cover living expenses and gain work experience. This allowance extends to full-time work during extended breaks like summer and winter vacations, subject to obtaining the necessary permits and adhering to regulations.

  • Q: What transportation options are available for students in Japan?

    A: Students in Japan have access to a variety of transportation options, including trains, subways, buses, and taxis. Prepaid IC cards like SUICA and PASMO are popular for convenient payment on trains, subways, and buses. Buses are economical for medium to long-distance travel while renting bicycles is a convenient choice for short distances.

  • Q: How can I manage healthcare costs in Japan as an international student?

    A: To manage healthcare costs in Japan as an international student, understand health insurance requirements, get adequate coverage, familiarise yourself with the healthcare system, and explore student discounts and commuter passes. Enrolling in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system in Japan, which covers about 70% of medical costs, can help manage healthcare expenses effectively.

  • Q: How much money should I save before going to Japan?

    A: It is wise to save at least ₹3,00,000 before relocating to Japan. This amount should help cover initial accommodation costs, living expenses for the first few months, and any unforeseen expenses. Having a financial cushion will ease your transition and reduce stress as you adjust to your new environment.

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With over a decade of expertise in the study abroad domain, Renu is a true visionary. Her unwavering commitment lies in guiding students to their dream universities and empowering them to conquer their academic goals.

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