To go to Japan isn’t as hard as many people think. All you need is a plane ticket and some time off work (and possibly a tourist visa depending on your country).
However, it’s much, much harder to stay in Japan! As a tourist, your time in Japan is limited, expensive, and you don’t have the right to work. Even so, thousands of people each obsess with ways in which they can get to Land of the Rising Sun as easily and as fast as possible. Here are a few ways to get to Japan and stay there.
(1) Student visa
Possible one of the easiest methods to stay in Japan long term. Your school will generally take care of most visa issues and there are very few requirements to enter a Japanese language school. Those aiming to enter a Japanese university will have a much harder time due to incredibly difficult entrance exams.
Merit: easy to get and is a simple process for you.
Demerit: It takes a decent sum of money and you’ll need to think about what you’ll do after you graduate from the school.
(2) Work visa (English teacher)
There is a bunch of different types of work visas and some are easier to get than others. The easiest would be an English teaching job that generally just requires a diploma from an English speaking country. Your university will probably be able to help you with this if you apply through programs such as JET.
Merit: If you have a diploma and pass the interviews, you can go to Japan and make money while you’re there. Little to no Japanese required.
Demerit: Spaces may be limited, you may have no control over which area in Japan you teach at, and you are generally limited to English teaching.
(3) Work Visa (Other)
If you have a diploma or 10 years or more experience in a specialized field, then you may be applicable for a work visa. Unlike an English teacher, you’re probably going to need some Japanese language ability. One of the most common fields is the IT industry which is constantly looking for skilled foreigners.
Merit: High wages in a Japanese office.
Demerit: Requires Japanese language ability and an understanding of Japanese work culture. You will also need to find a sponsor for your visa first.
(4) Spouse visa/Family Visa
If you are getting married to a Japanese national, the spouse visa is probably most suited for you because of its flexibility. You can work in any industry without limitations. You will need your partner to apply for the visa (which is fairly complicated) and you will need a guarantor and proof of income or funds.
Merit: Freedom to work whenever and wherever.
Demerit: You need a Japanese partner or Japanese family.
(5) Company transfer
If you work in a large company that also has branches in Japan, you may be able to get transferred to Japan. Your company should take care of most of the visa procedures.
Merit: Move to Japan with the support of your company and its benefits.
Demerit: You may need to leave Japan on the whim of your company.
This is just a very simple and brief guide at some of the ways you can stay in Japan long-term. I don’t think you should change your whole life on the hope that you can go to Japan in a few years from now. Japan isn’t the country for everyone and the vast majority of foreigners leave after a few years. If you have to go no matter what, try visiting the country as a tourist first and try to brush up on your Japanese while you can.