tokyodev forum

Life as a software developer in Japan

Hello tokyodev,

I’m a software developer in my twenties and working in Scandinavia, which is also where I grew up.
A long life dream of mine has been to work and live in Japan, preferably in the tech sector. But before I fully commit to transfering my whole life there, I do want to know how life is in Japan.

For example:

  • How satisfied are you with the work you’re doing?
  • How are relationships there (friends, partners, …)
  • What are your thoughts on starting a family in Japan?

These are just some of the questions that have been on my mind. While the San Francisco Bay Area has the most amazing people and companies there, I do not want to start a family there or grow old there. Instead, Japan is currently first on the list of where I want to start a family, and Scandinavia comes second.

I’m still in my twenties, but am thinking about my 35 - 40s right now as I do believe it will become at least as importance as my career. So I’m very curious about e.g. how’s sending your child to school, etc.

Don’t need to answer the questions above, but I do want to hear about what comes to your mind after reading this. Thanks!

What is life like in Japan is such a broad question it is hard to come up with meaningful answers for it. Someone who has been transferred to Tokyo on an expat relocation package, sends their children to an international school, and lives their life mostly in the international community is going to have a very different experience than someone who moves to a small town and tries to integrate into the local community, speaking Japanese exclusively.

The best (and perhaps only) way to figure out if Japan matches you is to actually move here. In my case, I moved here without having much expectations of what life was going to be like. Most other international people I know who are successful here are similar. If you come to Japan with too much expectations of what life is going to be like, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, as undoubtedly things will be different.

As Paul have stated, your experience will be very different depending on your circumstances. Things like work satisfaction, relationship, family life etc will all vary. However I would like to add that Japan is a very big environment and if you feel unsatisfied in some these things, you will have opportunities to improve. Especially if you are living in a big city. Only thing is, you have to look for them, and make an effort to create them (learn the language, engage in new circles, etc). Japan is very generous in that point, you have a chance to meet all kinds of people here.

One thing I want to mention though, since you mentioned retiring, while Japan is doing fine for now, it may not be the case in the future. Debt is increasing, ageing population is becoming a burden, and the political authorities seem hesitant to face responsibility in fear of losing support from the ageing population (who vastly outnumber youth). I wont go into details since this is out of context of this forum, but you can do your own research and make a decision for your future.

Deciding for a permanent move may certainly seem scary, but maybe first you can try something like a working holiday to come and see for yourself if you will like it.