Working in a Japanese company requires not only knowledge of Japanese business culture but also the use of a polite form of Japanese that is not commonly used in daily life. Here are some commonly used Japanese business phrases you will encounter while working in Japan.
Japanese Language Schools in Tokyo
Typically, the best way to learn Japanese is through language immersion — but even that can be difficult when living in Tokyo because of the city’s expat-friendly infrastructure. While it’s possible to get by with little or no Japanese language skills, you will miss out on a lot that the city and country have to offer as well as frequently find yourself in a tight spot when dealing with day-to-day living situations like filling out documents at city hall, going to the post office, or trying to effectively communicate with Japanese coworkers.
For these reasons and more, we highly recommend taking some type of Japanese language course while living in Tokyo to help kickstart or refine your fluency.
Search Japanese Language Schools in Tokyo
Choose an area below to find Japanese language schools near you, or keep reading to learn more about the options available for foreign residents.
Types of Japanese Language Courses
The following are the general course types available to foreign residents living in Japan.
This course type is similar to a university-style school setting. It’s usually the best option for students who have a desire to learn, live, and work in Japan, and have the time to dedicate several hours each day to taking classes and studying. You will likely find yourself progressing quickly, but you will also need to make learning your primary focus.
Part-time Intensive Course:
This course type is similar in many ways to taking a full-time course but is a better option if you’re planning to stay in Japan on a short-term tourist visa.
JLPT Prep Course:
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is a standardized evaluation that provides certification to non-native speakers in reading, listening, and knowledge. Five levels of tests are offered, from N5 (basic) to N1 (native level). Most Japanese companies will only consider international job candidates with business-level skills (N1 or N2) unless it’s an international office or English-language school. JLPT language courses are designed to help you pass the tests, which are only offered twice a year.
Part-time Business Course:
This course type is usually offered after work hours and is designed to help students become competent in the complex world of Japanese business communication skills including keigo, e-mails, work culture, and manners.
Part-time Casual Lessons:
This type of lessons may be offered at your local municipal community center, usually once a week. Typically, the material covers group conversations with a small written element and is taught by community volunteers. Visit your city’s website to find details about what’s available in your area.
This type of lessons is usually customized to the student’s needs and goals and is provided around the student’s schedule.
This type of lessons is often a more affordable alternative to in-person private lessons. While there is a lot of competition among schools and teachers in providing this service, we recommend choosing a school that has a record of positive student reviews rather than simply choosing by price.
Language courses often move in a linear progression, so you may have to wait until a new course starts unless signing up for casual, private, or online lessons. This will be the same no matter what school you choose to enroll at, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Requirements for Attending a Full-time Japanese Language Course
Having a non-tourist visa is required for any full-time language course that lasts over three months, but it’s usually possible to obtain a student visa sponsored by your school. Moreover, you must attend at least 80 percent of your classes; the school and visa board take this rule very seriously. Student visas have been used to skirt work visa regulations for years, so the government board is especially cautious of foreigners abusing this loophole.
You will also need to prove that you have enough money to pay for the duration of the class, as well as extra to live on. That being said, you’re allowed to get a part time job on a student visa as long as your work hours don’t exceed 28 hours a week and you get permission to do so from the government.
If you already have a visa, such as a foreign resident visa or a work visa, there’s no minimum requirement for enrolling in a full-time language course as long as you meet the requirements of your specific visa. For work visas, there may be some scheduling limitations as full-time courses are usually held during standard business hours, which may conflict with your work hours.
Tuition cost ranges from ¥1,000 at your local community center to full-time classes that can reach as high as ¥200,000 each quarter. Remember that depending on your visa circumstances, you may also need to budget for housing and living expenses during your stay, and the typical wage for part-time employment is about ¥1,000 an hour if you’re looking to supplement your funds during your stay. Still, there are plenty of students who take out a very modest loan for tuition, and use a part-time job to cover daily expenses, so it’s not impossible to make your goals and dreams come true.
If you’re already living and working in Japan, it may be possible to discuss with your employer about having a portion of your tuition subsidized by your company, especially if having a better command of the Japanese language helps your work become more efficient.
English-friendly Japanese Language Schools in Tokyo
Whether you simply want to speak or need JLPT certification, there are many Japanese language schools in Tokyo that can help you meet your goals.
All the schools listed below can be accessed in English, so please do not hesitate to consult with them. Also, some of them provide free trial lessons, so please take advantage of these offerings to help you with your school selection.
Akira Online Japanese School TOKYO
Acquire Japanese social skills faster with Akira's online Japanese classes. We provide best courses for you based on the second language acquisition research - business Japanese, daily Japanese and JLPT preparation. Try Akira's online lessons and ascertain the efficacy of SLA. We offer interview and trial at your convenience - daytime, evening and weekend from Azabu-Juban, central Tokyo.
ALPHA JAPANESE SCHOOL
Toranomon-based Tokyo language school offers everything from set group courses to private or semi-private lessons as well as online courses. Group courses in JLPT preparation are also offered. Private lessons can be taken off-site from early morning onwards. This school has a Japanese teacher-training course, which means there are roughly 100 teachers to choose from.
AOYAMA INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION INSTITUTE
Our school has a rich 30-year history and is approved the Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education. We provide various classes to fulfill a variety of needs and we pride ourselves on our fun, easy-to-understand lessons. We have original programs tailored for your Japanese language goals, ranging from everyday conversation, business Japanese, exam preparation, and more! Our teachers are well-trained, experienced professionals who will guide you to your goals. We are located a convenient 5 minutes walking from the Tokyo Metro Omotesando or Gaienmae stations, so access is a breeze. Feel free to inquire about anything related to Japanese!
Aoyama Language School
This school offers private lessons from survival Japanese through to advanced, and courses are adaptable for special purposes, whether business Japanese, JLPT preparation, or reading comprehension for newspapers and magazines. Flexible plans are devised to suit any schedule, location and start date. Semi-private lessons are possible for groups of family or friends.
Association for Japanese-Language Teaching
Lesson programs at this school accommodate a broad range, from academics and diplomats to refugees and children. Along with its signature teacher-training program, the Association has produced its own textbooks, such as Japanese for Busy People, which is used by other schools and individuals studying by themselves as well. Group and private lessons run from beginner to advanced, plus online lessons with plenty of resources.
Azabu Japanese Language Institute
This Tokyo language school specializes in private one-to-one lessons for any level or purpose, connecting language with etiquette and social customs. The teachers have professional backgrounds in law, arts, business, marketing, and IT and can tailor business Japanese lessons for these fields. There is also a short monthly group lesson for beginners.
Coto Japanese Club
Japanese language school in Azabu Juban - easily Accessible from Roppongi, Hiroo, Azabu, Shirokane Takanawa. Small sized classes, conversation focused Japanese Lessons with Flexible scheduling. Japanese daily course, Japanese crash course, part time course and private lessons. Unique combination of classes and events.
Edo Cultural Center
While some language schools in Tokyo may focus primarily on Japanese language, helping foreigners to thoroughly understand Japanese culture is key to this school’s teaching style. It offers a wide variety of courses for Japanese university entrance, survival Japanese, business Japanese, daily conversation, JLPT preparation, and specific professional fields. Both group and private lessons are offered, and regular level checks ensure that students are on track.
This school for corporate, diplomatic and individual students incorporates multimedia tools into lessons that are communication-focused. Online, private, semi-private and group lessons are all available, and can be tailored to suit, whether at the school or off-site. The teaching method is structured to regularly review individual needs.
Nihongo Instructor Club
This organization of Japanese language teachers uses an original teaching method. Private or group lessons can be held at any location, and the bilingual teachers offer English explanations where necessary. With a focus on corporate and diplomatic clients, classes range from business Japanese for beginners through advanced students, as well as JLPT preparation.
Sun Academy NIHONGO Center
Focusing on communication using both language and cross-cultural understanding, this Tokyo language school uses a “task-based approach” and encourages students to be able to express themselves in real-life situations. Special programs are available for technical trainees and customizable classes include raising children in Japan, business Japanese, daily conversation, and JLPT preparation.
The Kitani Method Japanese by Tokyo Lingual 'Sensei' Group
The Kitani method was designed as a fast-track learning system for English speakers, using inherent English knowledge and focusing on the differences between English and Japanese. This school offers JLPT preparation for level 3 and up, focusing on conversation and communication for beginner students. Private or pair lessons.
Run out of a translation and interpretation business, this school offers lessons in six languages, and additional services include translation of documents and in-person interpretation. Lessons are aimed at technical interns, foreign medical personnel and company employees, plus college admission, in groups, privately or online.
Toranomon Language School
Here at Tranomon Language School, we teach practical Japanese you can use immediately in the office and in daily life, as well as Japanese grammar and expressions using second language acquisition theory. Our activities like "Walk and Learn", and other intercultural activities at business sites as seen on media give you great opportunites to speak the language and acquire deeper understanding of life in Japan. You can also move up to more challenging Japanese with our JLPT and Business Japanese courses, and step out of your comfort zone to see what Japan truly has to offer. Let us help you enjoy your life in Japan!
UJS Language Institute
Since its establishment in 1986 in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, Roppongi, students of many nationalities have been studying in the same classroom surrounded by internationally famous icons, such as Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills, and Tokyo Mid Town. UJS considers speaking, reading, listening and writing the cornerstones of communication ability. In order to improve their students’ communication skills efficiently, UJS follows well a balanced curriculum and teaching strategy at all times. Due to the development of the global economy, each student’s goals have become highly diversified. To maintain high satisfaction from all students (customers), UJS provides not only qualified Japanese class lessons but also full order made private Japanese lessons. We open the door widely to all learners.
This small school offers something apart from most language schools in Tokyo: A unique combination of both Japanese lessons and piano lessons in English. Language classes are limited to 2-4 people with a focus on functionality, and they hold regular language exchange events. JLPT preparation courses are also available.
AOYAMA SCHOOL OF JAPANESE
Courses here are either long-term (1-2 years) or short-term (1-3 months) and offered in private, semi-private or group settings. The school encourages an environment of cross-cultural sharing between international students and Japanese people and culture, actively supporting students throughout their daily lives in Japan.
Business Leaders & Communication (BL&C)
This company provides services in business training that include Japanese language classes. Lessons combine face-to-face classes with personal online study, aiming to be cost-efficient and convenient. Courses are offered for survival through advanced Japanese. Special classes, such as cultural activities or JLPT study, are also offered.
EF International Language Schools
EF provides life-changing education for global citizens and combines language training with cultural exchange, academic achievement and educational travel to deliver courses and programs that transform dreams into international opportunities. The Tokyo campus offers Japanese language courses and is centrally located in the heart of Shibuya.
This school has a wide range of options, whether time-efficient courses for busy people with a variety of purposes, JLPT preparation, basic grammar, reading manga, or etiquette and culture classes ? plus regular long-term courses for beginner to advanced. They will also help you settle in by accompanying around your neighbourhood.
J's Language School
At this Tokyo language school, courses for beginners to advanced students are supplemented by intensive 1-3 week courses for beginners, JLPT preparation, and kids’ classes. They provide classes for company employees, either one-to-one or in small groups. The focus is on conversation and personalized lesson plans and teachers offer English explanations when necessary.
The Naganuma School
Named for the founder of the linguistic institute to which the school is affiliated, this Tokyo language school integrates cultural and language learning simultaneously. It offers many options for different purposes and schedules, including Japanese for business, job-hunting and university preparation. The teachers have working experience in a variety of professional backgrounds.
WE Japanese Language School
With four streams in daily conversation, business Japanese, JLPT preparation, or an intensive course from beginner through advanced, the majority of students here are business people. Group or private lessons are available, with flexible scheduling and regular progress evaluations.
Coto Language Academy
This academy focuses on small class sizes, conversation and flexible schedules. It offers survival Japanese through to advanced levels, for one to three months; regardless of level, only Japanese is spoken during class. Furthermore, uniquely flexible group classes allow students to customize their own schedules. Private lessons are also available.
International Language Services
This school offers tailor-made program to match the student's needs and personality. "Cross-cultural communication" session is provided in all courses in order to understand Japanese language more deeply. Private, semi-private, and small group lessons are available.
Kudan Institute of Japanese Language & Culture
For beginners, this school offers a kana course after which a student begins the intensive course, in classes of 12-20 students. A focus on kanji is built into regular lessons, and special classes are also available for reading manga, conversation or summer holiday courses. Private lessons are also possible.
macc Management and Communications Consultancy
Founded by business executives, this company features teachers and staff from many different professions. It offers corporate consultancy and specialised language courses including Japanese for diplomats, financial analysts, housewives and children, using its own set of ten proficiency levels. Regular courses range from beginner to advanced and can be taken intensively or long-term, in private or group settings.
Tokyo Galaxy Japanese Language School
In addition to the business Japanese lessons offered throughout many Japanese language schools in Tokyo, this school features a university admission course, as well as academic and career counselling. Staff speak several different languages. Apart from long-term courses from beginner through to advanced levels, it also offers short-term and private lessons.
Evergreen Language School
One of the most traditional Japanese language schools in Tokyo, this school focuses on business Japanese and full-time college admission courses. General courses for beginning through to advanced students are also available, for daily, 3-days or 2-days per week schedules. Private lessons are possible at companies or homes.
MLC Meguro Language Center
All courses at this school are designed for English speakers; they include group lessons, on-site lessons for company employees, private, intensive courses and JLPT preparation. There are plenty of study materials, such as quizzes, for free download, and online lessons are available. Lessons can be tailored to student needs and private lessons may be either fixed or flexible.
Progress Japanese Academy
With lessons focused on business Japanese and tailored to individual needs, this school offers small group classes, and private or semi-private lessons for beginner to advanced levels. Options also include online lessons, a lunch-time chat program, and preparation for Japanese proficiency tests.
Genki Japanese and Culture School
This innovative school in Shinjuku offers flexible and communicative Japanese classes. Group classes have a maximum of 8 students, and courses start every Monday year-round. GenkiJACS was voted the Star World Language School for 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Courses include cultural activities, conversation course and a summer program aimed at younger students, all to make the most of your time in Japan. They also offer online group and private lessons for those students wanting to try the school before taking the step to travel to Japan.
Japan Switch Shinjuku
Japan Switch is one of the lowest cost options in Tokyo with 3000 yen private lessons and 3000 yen 100 minute group lessons. They are open on weekdays from morning to noon and focus on conversational lessons to help students improve their speaking as fast as possible. They also offer self-study support and monthly events for students.
Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute
This Tokyo language school uses the Ezoe Method of visual grammar and accommodates people wanting to speak everyday Japanese, work in business or tourism, or enter a Japanese university. Class times are available for weekdays, evening or Sunday lessons, from beginner to advanced. Kanji and calligraphy classes are also available.
Tokyo Central Japanese Language School
Established in 1988, Tokyo Central Japanese Language School (TCJ) has been engaged in “cross-cultural communication” through Japanese-language education. The student body of TCJ is made up of about 830 students (as of December 2019). There’s always a wide variety of students from around 30 to 40 countries and regions making the school a place where international exchange takes place on a daily basis.
Other Areas in Tokyo
n addition to business Japanese lessons, this academy offers courses for foreign students wishing to pursue higher study in Japan; the options are long-term or short-term, intensive or regular courses. The intensive course has up to 20 students, while other classes are smaller. Lessons for corporate clients are available for individuals or groups.
Intercultural Institute of Japan
Flexible enrollment and class times are a feature of this school, which offers private and semi-private lessons, particularly for corporate and government clients. It also supports students wishing to enter a Japanese graduate school. Regular courses can be complemented by targeted classes focusing on specific skills. Classes for foreign children also offered.
this Japanese Language School
Part of its local area, this school aims to help foreign people live more comfortably in Japan. Class schedules are constructed to include both lessons on formal grammar and skills, and lessons for real life and current affairs, often set in practical situations. Private classes with a special focus can be arranged, whether giving speeches or reading letters from your child’s school.