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Is Japan an English friendly country?


Japan is one of the most fascinating and unique countries in the world. It has a rich culture, cuisine, and technology that attracts tourists from all over the world. However, the question remains whether Japan is an English friendly country or not. In this article, we will explore the topic and answer all your questions.

History of English in Japan

English has been taught in Japanese schools for over 150 years, but the emphasis on reading and writing has led to a lack of emphasis on speaking and listening skills. The majority of Japanese students learn English as a second language but do not have many opportunities to practice outside of the classroom.

Japanese Snack Box

English Proficiency in Japan

According to the EF Education First’s English Proficiency Index, Japan ranks 53rd out of 100 countries in English proficiency. This means that while many Japanese people have basic knowledge of English, they may not be fully proficient when it comes to speaking or understanding the language.

Language Barrier Challenges

The language barrier can be a significant challenge for foreigners visiting or living in Japan. Many people who don’t speak Japanese find it difficult to communicate with locals, especially in rural areas where English is less commonly spoken. Additionally, many signs and menus are only written in Japanese, which can be confusing for non-native speakers.

English Friendly Cities in Japan

While Japan as a whole may not be considered an English-friendly country, there are cities where English is more commonly spoken. Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are some examples of cities where you are more likely to find English-speaking locals and signage.

English Education in Japan

The Japanese government has made efforts to improve English education in recent years. The goal is to increase English proficiency among Japanese citizens ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The government has allocated funds towards hiring more foreign English teachers and creating more opportunities for students to practice speaking and listening skills.

English Support for Tourists

Tourists visiting Japan can find support from various sources such as tourism information centers, hotels, and transportation companies. These businesses often have staff who can speak English or provide language assistance services.

Business English in Japan

Businesses that deal with international clients or partners often require employees who are proficient in English. Therefore, many Japanese companies offer English language training programs for their employees.

Culture Shock in Japan

Culture shock is a common experience for foreigners living in Japan. The cultural differences can be overwhelming, and the language barrier only adds to the challenge. However, with time and effort, many people adapt to life in Japan and appreciate its unique culture.

The Importance of Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese can make a significant difference when it comes to communication with locals and understanding the culture. Many Japanese people appreciate foreigners who attempt to speak their language and may be more willing to help them.


In conclusion, Japan may not be considered an English-friendly country as a whole, but there are efforts being made by both the government and private sectors to improve English education and support foreign visitors. While the language barrier can be a challenge, learning some basic Japanese phrases can make a big difference when it comes to communication and cultural understanding. Overall, Japan remains an incredible destination with much to offer visitors from around the world.


Is Japan safe for English tourists?

The answer to whether Japan is a safe travel destination is a definite yes. Japan is widely considered to be one of the safest countries for international travelers. We have collected data on the top concerns for many travelers and can assure you that Japan is a great place to enjoy a vacation without worries.

Are Americans welcomed in Japan?

Japan has opened its borders for visa-free independent travel for most nationalities. Those who have been vaccinated against Covid do not need to provide a negative Covid test before traveling to Japan. However, those who are not vaccinated or not boosted need to provide a negative Covid test.

Is Japan friendly to foreigners?

Fortunately, in Japan, foreigners are generally welcomed with open arms and if you make a mistake, the society is forgiving.

What part of Japan is English friendly?

English is widely spoken and visible in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo has bilingual signage in metro and train lines, as well as in popular areas like Asakusa and Shinjuku. Even non-English speaking professionals in Tokyo can speak some English, making it easier for foreigners to communicate.

Is Tokyo American friendly?

For American tourists, traveling to Tokyo is safe and inviting. The locals are proficient in English and are always willing to offer assistance and guidance, making Japan a secure and welcoming destination for tourists.

What is Japan’s view of Americans?

According to a 2018 survey by Pew, Japan has a high level of pro-American sentiment, with 67% of Japanese people having a favorable view of the United States and 75% expressing trust in the country. In comparison, only 7% of Japanese people trust China.

Language Exchange Programs

Language exchange programs are a great way for foreigners to practice speaking Japanese and for Japanese people to practice speaking English. These programs allow participants to meet and converse with native speakers of the language they are learning. Some popular language exchange programs in Japan include Meetup, HelloTalk, and Tandem.

Translation Apps and Services

For those who do not speak Japanese, translation apps and services can be a lifesaver. Many popular translation apps such as Google Translate offer Japanese translations, and some even have features that allow for real-time conversation translation. Additionally, there are professional translation services that can assist with translating documents or interpreting during business meetings.

Cultural Sensitivity

When visiting or living in Japan, it is important to be culturally sensitive. Japanese culture has many unique customs and traditions that may differ from those in other countries. It is essential to be respectful of these customs and avoid behavior that may be considered rude or inappropriate in Japan.

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication plays a significant role in Japanese culture. For example, bowing is a common form of greeting and shows respect. Additionally, maintaining eye contact during conversations is not as common in Japan as it is in some other countries. Understanding and respecting these non-verbal cues can help facilitate communication and avoid misunderstandings.


In summary, while Japan may not be considered an English-friendly country overall, there are many resources available for foreigners to navigate the language barrier and cultural differences. Learning some basic Japanese phrases, participating in language exchange programs, and utilizing translation apps and services can all help make communication easier. Additionally, being culturally sensitive and aware of non-verbal communication can help avoid misunderstandings and foster positive relationships between locals and foreigners.

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