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Enrolling in a Japanese-language Institute  jp
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Do I need to receive Japanese language training in Japan?

Generally, a prospective student first enrolls in a Japanese language institution after arrival in Japan. In many cases, he or she studies Japanese and other related subjects at the language institution for between one and two years and then takes the entrance examination for a university, etc. For this reason, the choice of the Japanese language institution is very important for the prospective student.

There are two types of Japanese language institutions for foreign students who wish to go on to a Japanese university for either undergraduate or postgraduate studies.

1. Preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by private universities

  • The preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by private universities are regular courses within the university curriculum as defined by the School Education Law. The objective of these courses is to offer preparatory education in the Japanese language, Japanese society and culture, and other necessary subjects to foreign students who wish to enter junior colleges or undergraduate or postgraduate programs at universities, either as students or researchers.
  • Subjects taught include the Japanese language, Japanese society and culture, and other basic studies, which are usually taught in Japanese. There are, however, some schools that offer the courses in English. The residence status of students taking such special courses offered by private universities is "College Student."
  • Preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students are offered at 66 private universities and junior colleges. It is important for each foreign student to select the program best suited for him or her, taking into consideration the reasons for studying in Japan, field of study and future direction, i.e., what he or she intends to do after completing the preparatory course. Depending on the school, students who remain at the same university as the one offering the preparatory Japanese language courses may enjoy special benefits and procedures, such as waiver of the admissions selection process.

● List of Preparatory Japanese Language Courses for Foreign Students Offered by Private Universities /Junior Colleges
These are preparatory Japanese language programs intended for students planning to pursue higher education in Japan. The list does not include inter-university exchange programs limited to students of associated schools. Please be sure to ask the specific school for the latest information

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) website:

  • To apply for admission to preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by a private university, the student should select the program (school) he or she wishes to enroll in and request application documents from the school. The student will be required to have completed at least 12 years of primary and secondary education (elementary, middle and high school). If, due to the system prevailing in his or her country, the student’s secondary education was completed at less than the 12th year, he or he will have to either:
    • (1) Enroll in an institution of higher education (e.g., a university) in his or her country and study there for at least the minimum number of years needed to bring the cumulative years of education to 12 or more.
    • (2) Enroll in and complete a course of preliminary study for university entrance designated by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

● List of Japanese language institutes for students without 12 years of education (authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports,Science and Technology-MEXT)
Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) website:

● Example of preparatory Japanese language courses for foreign students offered by private universities
[Takushoku University Intensive Language Program for Overseas Students]


2. Japanese language institutions providing Japanese language courses to foreigners who come to Japan

  • Foreigners who wish to study at universities or similar educational institutes in Japan may first consider entering a Japanese language institution providing Japanese language courses as a preparation prior to their undergraduate/graduate work. Types of such language institutions include senshu gakko (specialized training schools) or senmon gakko (vocational colleges), educational institutions categorized as kakushu gakko (various schools), and other establishments similar to kakushu gakko. If this is the case, prospective foreign students are advised to visit the official website of the Ministry of Justice below and confirm that the language school of their choice is a Japanese language institute that is officially designated by the Ministry of Justice and is listed in the Ministry's relevant announcement.
  • Foreign students studying at such a designated Japanese language institute may enter Japan under the status of residence of "exchange student."

● Announcement by the Ministry of Justice:

"Definition of Japanese Language Institutions and the Like in Relation to Residence Status of Exchange Student According to Criteria Defined in the Ministerial Ordinance to Provide for Criteria Pursuant to Article 7, Paragraph (1), Item (ii) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act"

The above announcement can be viewed at the following page of the Ministry of Justice official website (available in Japanese only)

What are the criteria for choosing a good Japanese-language institute?
  • There are various types of Japanese language institutions, differing in their form/organization, size, etc. The first step toward successfully studying in Japan is deciding on a high-quality Japanese language institution suitable for the student. Key points in selecting an appropriate Japanese language institution are as follows:

(1) Which country's students the school accepts most
Each Japanese language school has a tendency to accept students from particular countries or regions. For example, there may be schools accepting students primarily from Korea, from China or from countries where Kanji characters are not used.

(2) A past record of students who went on to higher-level schools
If a student desires to go on to a university, etc., after learning at a Japanese language institution, he or she should preferably select a school whose graduates have entered the specific university, etc., that the student hopes to attend. The handbook includes what students from each Japanese-language institution did after graduation, to which prospective students can refer. As the handbook also carries the records of how past students did in Japanese Language Proficiency Tests and the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU), it is also helpful for gauging the educational quality of each school.

(3) Rate of filled vacancies
Be cautious about schools where the number of students attending is consistently less than the school's capacity. Students at such schools were likely subject to strict inspections of their eligibility for a status of residence, etc., by the Immigration Bureau, most probably because many students overstayed their visas in the past, indicating that the school may have a problem in managing its registered students. Capacity and number of registered students are listed in the handbook. Although not included in the handbook, schools from which many students remain in Japan illegally after their visas expired are regarded by the Immigration Bureau as "schools to be watched" and are the objects of careful inspections.

(4) School location (whether to choose major cities near Tokyo or Osaka, or local cities)
While high living costs in major cities can be a disadvantage, there are advantages. For example, it can be easier for students to find part-time work in major cities. In local cities, on the other hand, there are more schools offering accommodations, including dormitories, and living costs are lower than in major cities. Students are advised to consider which is more suitable for them.

(5) Content of the course
Consider whether the course meets your objective. For example, is it a general language course or a course designed for those wishing to go on to a university? Does the enrollment schedule and study period meet your needs?

(6) Class grouping
Consider whether the classes are grouped according to the level of Japanese proficiency so that you can take classes that suit your level of Japanese. Also, do they conduct placement tests for this purpose?

(7) Basic subjects: Does the Japanese language institution offer classes in the basic subjects needed for university enrollment?
If you wish to attend classes in basic subjects (English, mathematics, physics, chemistry, world history, etc.) needed to enroll in a university, in addition to the Japanese language, please be sure to confirm whether the school offers those classes.

(8) Accommodations
Please be sure to confirm whether the Japanese language institution has its own dormitory? If not, you should ask if the school will help you find accommodations, such as an apartment, the expenses for such accommodations, etc.

(9) Guidance on further education
Does the school provide guidance on further education? Does it have a program to provide you with the necessary information?

(10) The number of years you have undergone primary and secondary education in your own country
If you are from countries such as Malaysia or the Philippines and have received only 10 or 11 years of primary and secondary education, please choose a school that offers the college preparatory course designated by the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

● List of Japanese language institutes for students without 12 years of education (authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports,Science and Technology-MEXT)
J apan Student Services Organization (JASSO) website:

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