Japanese culture is truly unique. It´s architecture, art, traditions and history intrigue people around the world. More recently it´s pop culture including manga, anime, and video games have made it increasingly popular with young people.

Japanese shows like Naruto, Studio Ghibli productions, and other world-famous shows have grabbed the attention of young generations and many of them now romanticize and wish to live a life in rural Japan. Additionally, Japan is a bustling, growing economic hub, and an increasingly popular place for expats.


Life in Rural Japan

Many people want to know what life in rural Japan is really like. While it is not always full of conveniences or a variety of amenities found in big cities, the peace, safety and tranquility allow for a very special experience which make living there a very worthwhile experience.

After spending a year in a small rural town in Japan, here is what I learned about this fascinating culture, way of life and unique location.

Why I Came To A Rural Japan…


Rural Japan Area

After being fascinated with Japanese culture as a child I knew I wanted to eventually someday live in this beautiful country.

I was able to get a job as a teaching assistant while living in Shizuoka, an area near Japan’s Pacific coast. This picturesque town is known for it´s views of Mt. Fuji and green tea production, among other things!

After spending time in this charming city in Japan and traveling through the country here are a few of the things I noticed immediately upon moving…

  • Amazing natural beauty.

  • Cleanliness

  • Mild weather.

  • Politeness among people.

  • Amazing Sushi and Japanese cuisine.

  • Beautiful Cherry blossoms (Sakura) and gardens.

  • Tokyo Disneyland and Ghibli Museum.

  • Calm and peaceful atmosphere

  • Many Japanese traditions, festivals, and programs.

  • Technological development and advanced lifestyle.

  • Minimalism and quiet life in rural areas.

After living in Shizuoka and learning about Japanese life, I was also able to travel and explore the countryside and a variety of different locations in Japan. Living and traveling in rural Japan allowed for some incredible experiences. Here are just a few of them and the lessons I learned.

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Amazing Experiences and Lifestyle Highlights in Rural Japan…

Friendly locals…

Japanese people are very welcoming to people from other countries and visitors. On multiple occasions I was offered free meals, both home cooked and from locals and people I just met. Japanese people see being hospitable and generous as a blessing and value giving of their time and energy freely. They value harmony and working together and I was impressed by the way they welcomed me as a stranger.


Lifestyle In Rural Japan Area

Social Norms…

As I ventured into Japanese society, I quickly realized that harmony, mutual respect, and group consensus were central pillars. Being in Japan, you learn to appreciate the unspoken rules and etiquette that create strong social bonds. Respect for elders, bowing, and maintaining personal space were gestures I adopted. The everyday social interactions show tremendous respect, gratitude and appreciation for others in a way that you don´t see in many other cultures.

Accommodations…

Throughout my life in Japan, I found different types of accommodations that catered to a variety of experiences. However staying in traditional ryokans was my favorite way to have an immersive experience in Japanese culture. Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns where travelers can experience authentic Japanese culture. Upon arriving it is customary to trade in your shoes and clothes for slippers and a comfortable yukata robe. This is followed by traditional green tea in your tatami mat room and a seasonal kaiseki cuisine.

Education…

Japan’s focus on education is central to their culture. The emphasis on literacy and computational ability has deep roots. Even among the samurai and merchants of the past it was critical to show mastery at the highest level in any given task. There is a very serious and meaningful importance placed on quality education and skills.

Entertainment…

In my journey through Japan, I encountered people who passionately preserve their cultural heritage through a variety of entertainment and relaxation practices. Experiencing the tea ceremony, witnessing the elegance of kimono-clad individuals, and exploring traditional arts and crafts are a significant part of traditional Japanese daily life.

Additionally, the country’s World Heritage Sites provided a glimpse into Japan’s captivating history and artistic achievements. If you have the opportunity to explore any of these sites it is well worth your time.

Culture…

Japan’s culture is built on values that prioritize social harmony and hard work. As I interacted with locals, I noticed a profound sense of identity tied to their social groups and birthplaces. Polite and humble communication was evident in every conversation, making people feel respected and valued.

Japan strikes a balance of being committed to preserving traditions, while moving forward to modernity and technological advancement. The regard they show daily for their history sets them apart in terms of a national identity and an international experience.

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What I Love About Rural Japanese Areas

There are so many aspects I cam to appreciate and love about rural Japanese life. Below are some of the ones that were life changing.

Minimalist Lifestyle…

Living in a Japanese rural area allowed me to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. With fewer distractions and material temptations, I found contentment in simple joys. The aesthetics of Japanese décor and lack of possessions felt like a breath of fresh air in a world often dominated by commercialism and belongings. The focus on what truly mattered, surrounded by nature’s beauty, simply enriched my life in ways I could have never imagined. When you are free of all these distractions you begin to see much more clearly what matters and provides a quality life experience.

Peaceful Environment…

The tranquility of the Japanese countryside was a balm for my soul. Waking up to the soft chirping of birds and the gentle rustling of leaves was an everyday luxury. There are huge open unobstructed views that allow for a sense of expansiveness and opportunity to be a part of nature. These open spaces and tranquil environments allow for a very peaceful environment and in turn quiet and soothing day to day life.

Availability of Fresh and Local Food…

Rural life is best when you indulge in locally sourced foods. From crisp vegetables to seasonal fruits, every meal was a celebration of flavors and health. The food was simple but delicious and made one realize why these habit allow people in these regions to live much longer and healthier lives.

Breathtaking Beaches…

I have seen a lot of beaches around the world, but Japan’s beaches are some of the most beautiful. From pristine white sands to crystal-clear waters, these serene spots offered a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Watching the sun rise and set over the ocean, as well as snorkeling in the clear waters are a highlight of this remarkable landscape.

Lower cost of living…

Another advantage of rural living was the lower cost of living, including cheaper electricity, utilities, rent and other essentials. This lower cost of living is a huge advantage to living in rural Japan. The reduced overhead and simple lifestyle allows for not only less financial stress but more opportunity for down time and travel.

These aspects were just a few of the many aspects that shape rural life in Japan and offer a one of kind experience.

Challenges In Rural Japan


Challenges I Have Faced In Rural Japanese Area

While the advantages of living in rural Japan far outweigh the disadvantages here are a few of the challenges I faced while living in Japan.

Language Barrier…

One of the most significant challenges I faced in Japan was the language barrier. While there is significant English spoken in the bigger Japanese cities there is limited English proficiency among the locals in rural Japan which made communication difficult.

Learning basic Japanese phrases was essential to express myself and engage with the community effectively.

Cultural Adjustment…

Adapting to a different culture was both exciting and challenging. Customs and social norms unique to rural Japan sometimes left me feeling unsure about appropriate behavior. However, with patience and an open mind, I gradually integrated into the community’s way of life.

Limited Access to Amenities…

Rural areas often lacked the convenience of 24/7 stores and easily accessible amenities. This posed some inconveniences, especially when I needed urgent supplies or services.

Transportation Constraints…

Public transportation in rural Japan is not as frequent or extensive as in urban centers. This occasionally made it challenging to travel to nearby towns or cities, impacting my ability to explore the region fully.

Sense of Isolation…

The close-knit nature of rural communities sometimes makes it challenging to integrate as an outsider. Overcoming the initial sense of isolation was difficult for me until I started proactively engaging in local events, festivals, and community gatherings.

Limited Job Opportunities…

Even though I got a job easily, it is true that job opportunities in rural areas are limited, especially for non-Japanese speakers.

Finding suitable employment aligned with your skills and qualifications can be a hurdle that requires creative approaches and networking.

Coping with Natural Disasters…

Living in rural Japan meant being more susceptible to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons. While the community was well-prepared and organized, dealing with these events is a constant reminder of the region’s vulnerability.

Cost of Living in Rural Japan

Living expenses in rural Japan are far less than living in the USA . You can find a comfortable apartment under $600 in the rural area of Japan.

Generally, 100 USD is around 14200 Japanese yen which allows you an increased quality of life at a significant savings. Here is a short table of monthly expenses in Japanese rural areas.


In addition to the cost of living being lower in rural Japan there are additional ways to save money as well. The set up and structure of rural Japanese communities make saving money easy. Here are some easy ways to integrate cost savings into your daily life in rural Japan…

  • Only focus on essentials and avoid unnecessary expenses.

  • Buy locally produced and seasonal foods that are more affordable and fresher.

  • Learn to cook your favorite dishes at home instead of dining out frequently.

  • Take advantage of public transportation or carpool with neighbors to save on fuel costs.

  • Shop at local markets and thrift stores for daily necessities and clothing at discounted prices.

  • Grow your own vegetables and herbs in a small garden or pot to save on grocery expenses.

  • Try to use energy-efficient appliances and turn off lights and electronics when not in use.

  • Always use discount cards, coupons, and special offers available in rural areas.

  • Try to use prepaid mobile plans or internet bundles to save on communication expenses.

Also, you should always choose free or low-cost recreational activities such as hiking, cycling, or exploring nature to stay active without spending much. Following these tricks, you can save more money while living in a rural area in Japan.

How Can You Visit Here?

If you are serious about moving to Japan (which I highly recommend!) here are a list of steps to follow and make your dreams a reality…

Step 1: Choose Your Destination

Do some research on the part of Japan that most intrigues you and appeals to your way of life. Read blogs and social media posts to learn more about the spectrum of locations and communities. Determine if you can work abroad from your new location or if you need to look for local employment.

Step 2: Check Visa Requirements

Verify visa requirements based on your nationality and apply for one if needed. There are a variety of ways to live in Japan and doing some research will allow you to see what type of visa works best for you. Ensure all necessary documents are in order well before your travel date.

Step 3: Book Your Flights

Next, you have to secure your flights to Japan in advance to find the best deals. Tokyo and Osaka are popular international gateways but consider other airports for potential cost savings.

Step 5: Arrange Accommodations

You will have a lot of options, from traditional ryokans to modern hotels. So, book your accommodations in advance, particularly during peak travel seasons.

Step 6: Learn About Japanese Culture and Language

Familiarize yourself with Japanese customs and etiquette to enhance your cultural experiences and avoid misunderstandings. Learning the basics of Japanese language will greatly enhance your life and is a great way to meet people and connect with your new community.

Step 7: Get Travel Insurance

Make sure to prioritize your safety by getting comprehensive travel insurance to safeguard against unexpected situations during your journey. This allows for greater peace of mind while living and traveling abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it difficult to communicate with locals in rural areas as a foreigner?

Yes, it can be difficult for foreigners to communicate with rural Japanese. While English proficiency might be limited, locals are generally friendly and helpful. Basic Japanese phrases can go a long way in bridging the communication gap.

What are the transportation options in rural areas?

Rural areas may have less frequent public transportation, but buses, trains, and even bicycle rentals are commonly available for commuting and sightseeing.

Is it difficult for a foreigner to manage a job in a rural area in Japan?

Managing a job in a rural area in Japan as a foreigner can be challenging because of potential language barriers and limited job opportunities. However, more and more people are taking the leap and moving to rural Japan to work and live.

Wrapping Up

Moving to Japan is an incredible and rewarding life experience. While there are challenges, the rewards and life changing perspective are well worth any struggle you may encounter along the way!

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