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This page is intended to serve as a starting point for individual research. The information was compiled by student staff who previously studied abroad. Remember, not all important information can be summed on this page and some information may have changed. Students are highly encouraged to do their own research!

  • Population: 126.3 million
  • Capital: Tokyo
  • Demographics: Japan is the 2nd most populous island country. 98.5% are ethnic Japanese. 90.7% of people live in cities, while 9.3% live in the countryside. About 13.8 million people live in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people.
  • Type of government: Japan is a constitutional monarchy and sovereign state whereby the power of the Emperor is very limited. The emperor is defined to be "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people".
  • Currency: Japanese Yen
  • Common food: Sushi, Ramen, Tempura

The official language is Japanese. It is somewhat common for people in large cities like Tokyo and Kyoto to know English.

As a University of Illinois student, you have access to library resources (such as Rosetta Stone and Libguides). You may also want to consider free sources to learn basic phrases, or to refresh your language skills prior to departure.

It is each students responsibility to independently verify the visa information below and ensure they apply and secure the appropriate documentation to travel and stay in their host country for the duration of their program.

Students studying abroad in Japan will need to get a student visa.

To read more on passport and visa terminology see the Passports & Visas page of this website.


  • You will be able acquire a SIM card when you arrive in Japan. A local number will be useful for safety and communications purposes.
  • Common telecom companies: Docomo, SoftBank Mobile.
  • Make sure you have the Duo Mobile app set up on your phone. If you get a new SIM card, use the passcode options instead of PUSH, or go to UI Verify website to enter your new phone information.


  • Internet infrastructure in Japan is well developed, and you will likely have internet access through your housing and on campus.
  • WiFi is not available in many public places. However, a phone plan usually provides data.


  • Japan uses the same plugs as the U.S., so you do not need an adapter from U.S to Japan.
  • Japan standard voltage is lower than in the U.S., so appliances that require high voltage (like hair dryers) may not function optimally and is recommended to be bought in Japan.

Using Money

  • Cash is the most common payment method in Japan. Cards may be rejected in many places including most restaurants and convenient stores.
  • If you plan to use a US credit or debit card while in Japan, be sure to notify your bank that you will be using it abroad and find out how much of an international surcharge will be added for each card swipe.

Banking Tips

  • You can use the ATM at both banks and convenient stores. Notice that ATM charges extra fees outside of working hours.
  • Many US banks will allow you to exchange dollars for Yen in advance of your trip at little to no cost. It is highly recommended that you travel to Japan with enough Yen to last you several days, or exchange dollars for Yen directly at the airport upon arrival.
  • There are several wire transfer services available in Japan if you need money sent from the United States to Japan while you are abroad. Carefully research all the possible surcharges and safety concerns before selecting a wire transfer service.


  • Japan is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is the most active earthquake belt in the world. Although Japan has great earthquake prevention measures, it is still encouraged to download earthquake-tracking apps on smartphones.


  • The climate of Japan is cold in the north (where snow and ice dominate in winter), temperate in the central regions, and almost tropical on the small southern islands.
  • The rains are abundant almost everywhere, and between summer and autumn the country is hit by torrential rains and typhoons.


  • For Spring and Fall months, bring layers, as the climate varies a lot.
  • There is a wide variety of fashion styles worn in Japan, so use your best judgement.
  • For more packing considerations, view the Packing List (PDF).

Traveling Locally

  • Japan has convenient and cheap public transportation including JR, buses, subways, and Shinkansen (bullet trains) in big cities. Cost for a single trip typically falls in the range of 150 to 300 Yen. Keep in mind that they may get busy during typical commuting hours. Vehicles are rarely used, especially in Tokyo.
  • Public transportation cards are highly recommended (either PASMO or SUICA). They can be used and recharged in subways, JR, buses, convenient stores and chain restaurants. A student season pass is very useful in Tokyo.
  • Shinkansen are usually cheaper than flights and can be used to commute between big cities.


  • The main 4 airports are: Narita, Haneda (Tokyo), Kansai (Osaka), Chubu (Nagoya).
  • Some smaller airports also have a few international flights from countries nearby, such as China and South Korea.
  • You can use public transportation (JR, subway and buses) to get to and from airports and big cities.

Each student faces different barriers and unique challenges based on their identity. For example, how you identify in the United States may not be how you choose to identify abroad because of the local social culture. We encourage all students to reflect on the different aspects of their identity and consider how they may play a role in their study abroad experience. To help with this thought process: visit the State Department website and look into the Identity & Inclusion resources available on this website.

International Safety and Security provides important wellness tips, along with using your insurance and the emergency phone number. Be sure to become familiar with this website and the resources available to you. Review the U.S. Embassy page and the Department of State website for additional safety resources.

Enroll yourself in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the U.S. Department of State. Registration in STEP will allow you to get alerts on the latest safety and security information. In addition, the information you provide enables the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.