Japan is an island country made up of four major islands, namely Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. The four islands make up 97% of the total land mass of Japan. There are in all 6852 islands in Japan, out of which only around 400 are inhabited. The country lies in the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern coast of the Asian continent. It has the two Koreas, China, Russia and Taiwan as its neighbours. Even though a small country in terms of total land area, Japan has the tenth largest population in the world. It has a population totaling around 126 million. Tokyo is the capital of Japan and in terms of population, it is the largest city in the world. At last count, it had almost 38 million people living in the city and its nearby areas. Almost three-quarter of its land mass is unsuitable for residential, industrial or agricultural use because of the mountains and the forests. As a result, the population is mostly located in the coastal areas with very high density of population, one of the highest in the world.
In terms of GDP, Japan is the third largest economy in the world, soon after the United States and China. Japan is considered one of the richest countries in the world. The people here have a high standard of living. The country is very advanced in terms of technology. Many of the electronic goods, domestic appliances, machine tools and automobiles made by Japanese countries are famous the world over. The United States, China, South Korea, Australia and the ASEAN group of countries are its main business partners. Japanese companies do a sizable amount of business with India also, with many Japanese industrial majors, including automobile manufacturers, having their manufacturing plants in India. Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mazda, Sony, Panasonic, Canon and Nintendo are its top global brands. The country with its market-friendly economic policies ranks very high in terms of economic freedom and global competitiveness. The services sector in Japan has the largest contribution in the GDP. It is as good as three-fourths of the entire national GDP. The industries sector comes next. Japan has significant earnings from tourism. Its currency is Yen and one US dollar is equivalent to almost 112 Japanese yen.
Japan has a bicameral parliamentary democracy with multiple political parties. It is also a constitutional monarchy, where the Emperor is the head of state. Prime Minister is the head of the government and the main political power lies with him and his ministerial colleagues. On the international front, Japan is a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and a dialogue member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Other than that it is also a member of the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It is also a key ally of the United States.
- Japan is a country in contrast. Its cities are most ultra-modern, whereas it has also some of the best heritage sites in the world. In Japan, tradition goes hand in hand with modernity.
- The bullet trains or the Shinkansen are among the fastest trains in the world. They can run at a top speed of 275 mph.
- Japan is a country very prone to natural disasters. It has met with a number of earthquakes and tsunamis in its entire history. From Kindergarten itself the Japanese are taught how to cope with the natural disasters, especially earthquakes.
- With nearly 15% of the global fish catch, Japan is second only to China.
- Japan doesn't have much land for agriculture. Only 12% of its land mass is suitable for crops and cultivation. Even then, 50% of its food requirement, it is able to produce it on its own through advanced cropping techniques.
- Everything in Japan is very neat and clean. The Japanese are very particular about hygiene and cleanliness.
- Shinto and Buddhism are the major religions in Japan. There are a number of shrines belonging to them both that attract tourists from the entire world.
- Mount Fuji, a perfectly shaped active volcano, is revered by the locals and is very popular with tourists. It is Japan's tallest mountain, standing at 3776 meters and provides you with a breathtaking view.
- Japan is not only the country with the most number of robots, but also has millions of vending machines. Almost anything can be purchased through these vending machines.
- Sumo wrestling is a sport that is unique to Japan. It is a traditional but popular sport that is in practice for many centuries.
- Japan is one of the safest countries in the world with a very low crime rate.
Admission Process in Japan
For seeking admission to a university or a college in Japan for your higher studies, you need to start the entire process of obtaining a student visa well in advance. You need to first research about the universities and colleges in Japan and the courses that you may opt for. Most students from India and other overseas students prefer enrolling in a masters program. Then check for the requirements for admission. The admissions in Japanese universities and colleges are through an entrance test and not through test scores and grades as in the case of university admission in western countries. On deciding upon the college and the course, fill up the student application from and send it along with the mentioned documents or their photocopies to the concerned college. The college then submits the documents to the Immigration Bureau in Japan for obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility. The Certificate is then sent over to the student and the student then applies to the Japanese embassy or its nearest consulate office for processing the visa application. The embassy after receiving your application and all necessary documents will scrutinize your claim to study in Japan. Once satisfied you are issued with the necessary student visa to proceed for further higher studies. While granting the student visa, your visa will be extended in increments of 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and the like.
Student Visa Application Process
Any overseas students planning to study for more than 3 months in Japan would require a student visa. The first and foremost thing to obtain a student visa is to select your college or university based on the course you intend to take up. There are then two ways to apply for the visa. One way is to directly apply to the Japanese embassy or consulate in India. But this is a hard way to obtain the visa. The easier and second way is to send all the necessary documents to the university in which you are planning to enrol. The university on receipt of the application will apply for the Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) to the immigration office or bureau in Japan. It takes around 2-3 months for the immigration bureau to review your application. If the details are all found satisfactory, the necessary Certificate of Eligibility is granted to you through the concerned college.
On grant of Certificate of Eligibility, you can then apply to the Embassy of Japan or its nearest consulate office for further processing of your visa application along with the necessary documents. Obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility through the college or university where you are going to take admission makes the visa application process very smooth. The embassy officials are then assured that your application for student visa conforms to all necessary conditions as prescribed by the Immigration Control Act prescribed by the Japanese government. The embassy may take at the most few weeks to a couple of months to process your visa. The Certificate of Eligibility is of great usefulness even during your stay in Japan. The certificate also eases the process of immigration inspection that you have to undergo on your first landing at an airport in Japan.
Part-time work in Japan
In case you intend to work part-time in Japan during your studies, then you will have to apply for a separate 'Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted'. This you need to apply to the local immigration office in Japan, once you arrive there. For applying for this permission your total period of stay in Japan should be more than six months. Other than the application form, you will require a resident card and your passport for applying for the said permission. The application form can be downloaded from the website of the Immigration Bureau or can be directly obtained from the local immigration office. You will be permitted to work for 28 hours per week during your studies and eight hours a day during vacations and summer holidays. There are restrictions on the kind of work that you can engage in. You are not permitted to work in businesses related to adult entertainment, like bars, cabarets, etc. No fees are required to be paid for applying for this permission. One thing you need to note is that you are permitted to work in Japan only if you are a graduate. Those undertaking bachelors program in Japan won't be permitted to work before completion of their course.
Extension of period of stay
In case you desire to stay in Japan after your studies and the initial period of engagement are over, you need to apply for permission to extend Period of Stay. You need to pay a nominal fee of 4,000 Yen to apply for the same. The application is to be made at the local immigration office. You need to apply three months prior to the end of your stay in Japan and in no case after the expiration of your period of stay. Documents necessary to apply for an extension of Period of Stay are as follows.
- Application form to extend Period of Stay.
- Passport photo.
- Passport and resident card.
- Certificate of college enrolment.
- A necessary document certifying that you can very well meet your expenses for your further stay in Japan.
The application form can be downloaded from the Immigration Bureau website.
Once you obtain a full-time job in Japan on completion of your studies, you need to apply for a Change of Status of Residence from that of a college student to one that will authorize you to work in Japan. Those who fail to get employment soon after their graduation or post graduation, but intend to search for a job in Japan; they too need to apply for Change of Status of Residence to Designated Activities. This authorization is for six months extendable only once by another six months. You need to pay 4,000 yen to process the application.
Japanese are very hard working people. They are very organized and efficient in the workplace. On an average, they put more hours at their job or office than anyone else in the entire world. Working overtime is quite common in Japan. They are also very particular about time. Japanese public transportation systems, including trains and buses, are renowned for running on time and are never late. Almost 75% of the Japanese population lives in the cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama. They have all the comforts of modern life. Most Japanese travel by train to work. Peak hour traffic on the trains is this unbearably high. The trains and the subway systems are otherwise very well-managed and efficiently run. Trains are the best way to travel across Japan, in case you do remember to avoid the rush hour traffic. Space is a constraint in Japan and the people here are used to living in cramped places, much like our very own Mumbai.
Even with their tough and long working schedule, the Japanese are known for their gentle manners and politeness. Japanese culture is a very fascinating one. The Japanese love their food. Rice is the staple food in Japan. Some of their traditions represent the cultural heritage of the Japanese people that have still survived even after hundreds of years. The country has a very conducive living environment. The crime rate is almost the lowest in the world. The people here are very friendly towards foreign students. You need not worry about health expenses as all your medical needs are taken care of by the health insurance. The Japanese people have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. The Japanese have a very unique way of preparing tea known as the Japanese Tea Ceremony; a traditional way of preparing and drinking tea.
It is not all work and no play for the Japanese people. Japanese love to travel a lot, especially overseas. They are also very keen on sports of all kinds; Sumo Wrestling being its most popular traditional sports. Though the cities in Japan are very crowded with people, still the Japanese know how to live in tranquillity even with space constraints. Japanese customers are very quality oriented. They prefer quality over price. The Japanese prefer sitting on the floors. They often sleep on futons that are mat like object. But, many in the cities are these days shifting to chairs and beds. Sitting on your knees with your feet tucked under your bottom is quite fashionable in Japan.
Cost of Living for Students
Compared to many other countries in Asia, Japan is an expensive country. Both the tuition costs as well living costs are on the higher side compared to India, but far more reasonable when compared to the western countries. The average cost of studying in a Japanese college or university is approximately 7,000-10,000 US dollar. It will take you another 10,000 US dollar a year to make a living in Japan that will cover your accommodation, food, health insurance, entertainment, travel and other necessary expenses. Cities like Tokyo are especially expensive but the suburbs are cheaper. To attract more and more foreign students to study in Japan, the Japanese government offers various loans, grants and scholarships to fund your higher education. For details on scholarships and grants, one needs to approach the admission department of the university or you may otherwise contact the local consulate office or embassy regarding them. The scholarships may depend upon a number of criteria, including outstanding academic and other achievements by the students.
Documents for University Admissions in Japan
Following are the documents you will need to apply for a student visa to study in Japan.
For applying to the concerned university/college
- A student application form to the concerned college explaining your intent to come to Japan and study there. The details and explanation provided by you will decide whether your candidature is accepted or not.
- Latest colour passport photos with full frontal view and without any sunglasses, cap or hat.
- Photocopy of your passport entries. Any previous entry and exit stamps are to be photocopied too.
- Photocopies of all your academic documents and mark sheets, including certificates won by you for achievements in sports and co-curricular activities.
- Academic references and recommendations
- Evidence of ability to finance your study and stay in Japan. You need to submit certain documents to prove your claims about financial viability. Some of the documents that can be used as evidence are bank statements, income statements and proof of scholarship or financial aid.
On receipt of Certificate of Eligibility (CoE)
On receipt of this very important document
from Immigration Bureau Japan, you will have to apply to the nearest consulate office or the Japanese Embassy for processing your student visa. So contact them with the following documents.
- Filled-in visa application form obtained from the Japanese embassy.
- Passport with suitable validity period.
- Certificate of Admission given to you by the college you are seeking admission.
- Certificate of Eligibility obtained from Immigration Bureau Japan.
- Latest colour passport photographs.
- Proof of having studied the Japanese language, if any. Even though not compulsory, it is of great help if you have some level of proficiency in the language.
- Sponsorship documents. For obtaining a student visa for study in Japan, you need someone, preferably a family member to sponsor your study. One may also be a self-sponsor, provided you have sufficient balance in your savings account to cover the entire expenses of the period of stay in Japan.
A few other documents may be desired by the embassy depending upon your period of stay and the university you are likely to enrol yourself.