Living in Japan: A guide For digital Nomads

Japan is a wonderland. Food, culture, nature, history — there’s nothing that this mystical archipelago doesn’t do well. Living in Japan as a digital nomad is going to put all that within easy reach of you at any time.

Begin your day with a walk to your local Shinto shrine, head to a slick co-working space or a cafe, get hold of some sushi for lunch, and then spend the afternoon exploring the city. Heading anywhere from a yakitori restaurant to a teppanyaki place for dinner is par for the course.

Practice your Japanese phrases, save up those pennies, and prepare yourself for having the best of Japan’s sights and natural wonders on your doorstep.

This might not be one of the least expensive countries to travel or the least expensive countries to live in, but living in Japan is a lot of fun.

In this post I’ll share what it’s like to live in Japan as a digital nomad. read on for my top ideas and advice.

Japanese Culture

Living in Japan is far from the norm you’re used to. Ok, so it may be a modern, developed nation, but things work differently here. knowing some of the basics when it pertains to blending in and being respectful is going to go a long way.

Bowing: This is a real thing in Japan. From big bows on first meetings to nods of acknowledgment when your food is delivered to your table, you’ll be doing this a lot.

Shoes off: Yes, it’s true, you don’t wear shoes in Japanese homes. even in some restaurants and in centuries-old castles, you must remove them. It makes sense; just think about what you tread in from outside!

Eating in public: Looking around, you’ll notice people don’t really walk along when they’re eating, or even stand around and eat on the street. There are designated spots for eating, and chowing down just outside a food stall is fine as well — just make sure you’re not walking and eating. 

Littering: No way. Japan is very clean, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. and the cleanliness is due to people tidying up after themselves. When you do throw out your garbage, make sure you use the ideal bins.

Being loud: even in busy streets, you’ll notice the lack of noise from crowds of Japanese people. especially in trains, it’s the norm that people keep their voices down and barely use phones. You must follow suit.

Where To live in Japan As a digital Nomad

Japan is bigger than you might think. All the way from frozen Hokkaido in the north to subtropical Okinawa in the south, there are many places across the 378,000 square kilometers of this nation that you can base yourself in.

Whether you’re trying to find standard culture, gleaming skyscrapers or outdoor activities, there’ll be a place in Japan for you. but not anywhere is exactly geared up towards digital nomads living in Japan; often, you’ll find yourself simply working in a cafe with wi-fi, rather than a co-working space, no matter where you are in the country.


The famous capital has a whole lot to offer for digital nomads living in Japan. It is absolutely huge and one of the greatest metropolises in the world, with a population that rockets well above 13 million people. If you want to get stuck into 24-hour city life, this is the place to come.

In fact, Tokyo itself is made up of lots of different city centers (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza), and lots of more. There’s a lot to explore.  

The cost of living in Tokyo is a lot more expensive than living in Japan’s other prefectures, without a doubt. The accommodation, though still more affordable than some European cities like London and Paris, will eat a sizeable chunk of your money.

See Also: What To do in Tokyo – 11 things You Can’t Miss


Ah… the food capital of Japan. The centrally located city is 500 kilometers west of Tokyo and is far a lot more out there. This is where to come if you like eating and drinking. Here, you can get to grips with Osaka ‘soul food,’ such as takoyaki, yakisoba, and, of course, okonomiyaki.

Osaka also happens to be another sprawling city complete with malls, limitless underground shopping streets, and a buzzing nightlife. It’s also considerably more affordable than Tokyo.


The old imperial capital of Japan is a stone’s throw from Osaka. This is where you must live in Japan if you want to wander quiet standard backstreets and have world heritage, UNESCO status, centuries-old temples on your doorstep. There are many fun things to do in Kyoto to keep you busy.

And while it sounds perfect, the downside of Kyoto are the tourists, which are mighty plentiful during high season. accommodation is also rather expensive in this city. 

The Nishiki Market is a bustling place with fantastic food in Kyoto

Famous not only for beef, Kobe is also the sixth largest city in Japan and one of the most multicultural cities in the country. It was one of the first cities in Japan to be opened up to foreigners. because of this, there’s plenty of foreign food (i.e. food from home) to take pleasure in and a community of westerners to socialize with. There’s a historical area here with lots of Western residences, as well as a rather large Chinatown to explore.


Japan’s burgeoning start-up city is a great option for digital nomads who like life by the sea. set on Kyushu, the third largest of the Japanese ‘home islands’, Fukuoka boasts sandy beaches, funky malls, and a lively tech scene.

Life here is good — so good that it’s often ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world, helped by its mild winters and balmy summers. There are also easy ferry connections to South Korea if you want a lot more adventures.


Aside from the big cities, there are dozens of smaller cities scattered across the islands where you could make a home for yourself living in Japan as a digital nomad.

They range from Matsue on the Sea of Japan, Kochi on the south coast of Shikoku, and Nagoya (which is actually pretty big). and we haven’t even pointed out Hiroshima or Nagasaki, let alone Sapporo, the icy capital of Hokkaido, or the other freezing towns of the Tohoku region like Niigata, Aomori, and Sendai.


Living in Japan isn’t all about cities. If you want a taste of the authentic, everyday lives of Japanese people, the countryside (or inaka) is where it’s at. even some ‘cities’ in Japan are often just made up of small towns and villages, e.g. Bizen in Okayama prefecture and Ise in Mie prefecture.

Life in these places is ruled by nature and a lack of amenities. people here are industrious and friendly. This is absolutely a good option if you want to take pleasure in a a lot more basic side to Japanese life. but be warned, you will absolutely stick out as a foreigner!

See Also: cost Of Living in Japan – A guide For digital Nomads

Types of accommodation in Japan

There are many accommodation options in Japan. just keep in mind that a lot of won’t offer a large living space, which you might be accustomed to. 


Japan’s hostels are amazing. especially in cities, these places are well geared up for digital nomads living in Japan. They normally come with common areas with strong wi-fi and tables for people to work at. That said, living long-term in a Japanese hostel could get pricey even in a dorm — not to mention, cramped.


A good option for when you first arrive in Japan, hotels are all over the place and normally pretty well located next to train stations and top sights. However, the rooms are pretty compact and the rates get quite high, especially in vacationer seasons. Naturally, hotels are more affordable in towns that aren’t vacationer hotspots, but aren’t the best choice for long-term living in Japan.

Hotels in Japan might be nice, but aren’t idea for long-term stays


Airbnb used to be a godsend for a digital nomad living in Japan; it was unregulated and cheap with a myriad of options all over the country, even in the most off-the-beaten-track locations.

Since the government made it a lot more tough for people to become Airbnb hosts in 2017, there are now fewer Airbnbs to choose from in Japan. but they’re still a solid option for digital nomads and bargains can be found. It’s a great way to feel like you’re actually living in a city and in lots of cases, you’ll become friends with your host. Airbnbs often come with pocket wi-fi too.

See Also: Airbnb voucher Code – get up to $75 Discount

Shared House

If you’re seeking to base yourself in a city for a few months, then living in Japan can’t get much much easier or more affordable than staying in a shared house.

The shared houses consist of your own furnished room with communal facilities. Wi-fi and bills are normally included in the price and, even though the location might not be in the middle of the city, the houses are normally near a train station and shops.

Rent a place

If you have, at the very least, a one year working holiday Visa, you may be able to rent your very own apartment or condo to get the most out of living in Japan.

Even in Tokyo, the apartments for rent are surprisingly affordable, but normally come unfurnished and with no wi-fi. Be ready for an adventure and immerse yourself in a genuinely Japanese process, with all the paperwork to opt for it. Some basic Japanese language knowledge would be helpful in this instance.See Also: how To travel Japan on The Cheap: top ideas For Backpackers

Amenities in Japan

Being utterly chock-a-bloc with amenities makes living in Japan hassle free. There are libraries everywhere, parks on every corner, a crazy amount of comfort stores, video game arcades, doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, post offices in every town (even the smallest village), many hairdressers and shopping opportunities galore.

And, of course, a lot more restaurants and cafes than you could ever imagine. Unless you choose to live somewhere very remote, you’ll be very well catered for in Japan. 

See Also: Nomad Life – top ideas To prosper as A digital Nomad

Transportation in Japan

Japan’s railway network is world-famous and there’s a reason for that — it’s amazing. You can get pretty much anywhere thanks to a very detailed train network. This includes captivating local trains that chug through lush valleys as much as it does the gleaming shinkansen and their white-gloved attendants.

Then there are the metros, monorails, and trams of Japan’s cities. fairly inexpensive (much more affordable than London’s tube, for example), using inner-city railways is part of living in Japan. They’re really clean and efficient, just try not to travel in rush hour, especially with luggage, and don’t talk too loudly, or eat. By doing so, you will stand out, and not in a good way.

Long distance buses are cheap compared to shinkansen and can really help you stick to a budget. The night buses are even more affordable and pretty comfortable too. There’s a new online booking system which is easy and indicates you can book in advance, rock up, and just show an e-ticket on your phone. There are also local bus networks in towns and cities that connect to places that the trains don’t reach.

You’ll find taxis in cities, often outside train stations. Not exactly a budget option, they’re helpful if you need to get to your accommodation with heavy bags or have missed the last train home. Uber is also an option, though actually a lot more expensive than taxis.

Renting a car is a great idea if you want to travel around whilst you’re living in Japan. cars can be expensive and there’s things like tolls to pay. parking in cities can be pricey too. but there are some beautiful coastal routes and winding mountain roads to drive along.

Cycling in Japan is big. getting around the cities on two wheels is easy and safe. There’s even designated underground bicycle parking and a lot of people ride on the pavement.

Want a lot more digital Nomad guides and information? Click here to see all our posts. 

Wi-Fi and Sim Cards in Japan

For all of Japan’s technological accomplishments, getting online isn’t as easy as you might think. Strange, I know. While big train stations, malls, and comfort stores have wi-fi, cafes don’t always, and if they do, they might not have power sockets!

For a digital nomad living in Japan, finding the ideal chain of cafe is going to be crucial to getting some work done. Caffe Veloce, Starbucks, and some branches of Doutor come equipped with wi-fi and sockets, as does McDonald’s and, my favorite cheap family restaurant, cafe Gusto.

Finding a co-working space isn’t too difficult in cities like Tokyo. search online for your nearest one. Some offer complimentary trials and are good places to meet other people.

Another option is to rent pocket wi-fi and use it as a hot-spot; this turns every cafe into your friend. but it can be somewhat expensive option — these range from upwards of 1000¥ ($9) per day.

You can also buy a sim card packed full of data before you arrive and pick it up the airport. places such as BIC cam also sell sim cards, which you can pick up easily once you’re living in Japan. Usually, if you are a touri

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