Started my journey hopefully to work as a doctor in Japan

So hello everyone :slightly_smiling_face: ,
This is my first post even though ı read the guides I hope I’m not doing anything wrong. Today I purchased WaniKani for a year and I’ll start to use it more seriously.
I am a doctor and currently studying for specialty exams in my country to be a psychiatrist (fingers crossed). Even though our specialty exams is tough by itself I still wanted to start learning Japanese because I feel like procrastinating and postponing everything in my life just for the sake of exams. My goal is as I said in the title, I want to be able to work as a doctor in Japan. Originally I discovered Wanikani and tofugu at the end of 2018. Still can’t believe how time passed so fast, I was a student back then and I postponed learning again for the sake of my exams. But not today. :smiley:
I always loved Japan and discovering anime with Japanese literature moved my love to the next level. To be honest I haven’t done anything other than fooling myself. I thought I was learning while I was watching anime through high school and college. After graduating when things get real I thought what I wanted to do and decided I wanted live and work in Japan even for a limited time in my life. I searched about how to work as a doctor in Japan and got a little discouraged. There were not enough resources or uptodate resources to guide me. The few comments I found about this topic ,to put it gently, were saying go to Japan and start over medical school rather then try to get certified in this matter. Anyhow I’ gonna stop before I depress someone. Even though it is tough the first step is to learning the language therefore here I am.
I’ve read the @jprspereira’s Ultimate Guide which is awesome. And spent like 3 hours roaming in the community, installing scripts…
If there is anyone who actually knows how to work as a doctor in Japan or what steps I should take, I would gladly accept help.
Thank you for reading if you read until this point. :slight_smile:

P.S: Did I make the guide reference correct?


I’ve heard people say that you can’t get certified to practice medicine as a foreigner without JLPT N1, but I don’t know anything beyond that. Is it your goal to treat Japanese people? As in, you want to use your Japanese in your job? Or do you want to focus on foreigners who reside in Japan and speak your native language?


Even if you held an N1 certificate, you’ll have an uphill struggle convincing them that your Japanese is good enough to treat patients as a psychiatrist. Your goal is exceedingly ambitious.


That’s quite the challenge! Awesome that you are working towards your dream!


I do wanna treat Japanese people, I mean of course I can also work with foreigners but main goal is to work like any other native doctor in Japan. Yeah I know you need a JLPT N1 along with some medical exams.


Yeah, as was mentioned above, I think the bar for a psychiatrist would be a lot higher than for other medical professionals, because of how important talking about complex subjects would be. You would also need to have a near-native understanding of Japanese culture. But I don’t think anyone can tell you it’s impossible.


Well, culture wise I think our culture is very similar to Japanese culture. Still I know it will be hard as hell but I’m not in a hurry. I’ll try my best. :smiley: I’m more concerned about the legal documents and other things instead of learning the language and culture. Thank you for the support. :slight_smile:

I don’t think there’s a way to validate your studies in Japan to work as a peer with Japanese doctors.
I’m an ENT, and for a short while I was interested with that option or at least check how feasible it was.
Apparently you can work in private clinics that treat foreigners, and that way Is doable. But the rest of fields are not a choice for westerners.

I didn’t do all the research, but asked a famous YouTuber that offers job advice for Spanish speaking people (Kira sensei). His wife is a Japanese nurse, so I think he had access to better sources than I could find online miles away.

Not to discourage you, but your way to Japan as a doctor could be a path yet to be feasible in the terms you mention.

Best of luck.

PD. As a sidenote, one of my best friends took a similar road in a different country (south American doctor training as a psychiatrist in Israel)… 11 years after starting the journey she still struggles, everyday less of course, both with the language and culture in terms of dealing with patients … :sweat_smile:. I’m thinking radiology, pathology, etc, could have been a better choice … But then,she wanted what she wanted.:sweat_smile:


Wow! Good luck on your journey (and greetings from another mental health professional - clinical social worker/counsellor & CBT-therapist working in a psychiatric outpatient clinic in Sweden)!


Anyone knows if university tittles are valuable in Japan if you got them in your home town?

If they follow the international standards like BSc, MSc, PhD etc. then you shouldn’t have a lot of problems afaik. Are you from the US? If so, it should definitely work!


I wish you luck, but as someone who is similarly in training to become a psychiatrist, I think the fluency you need to work as a psychiatrist in Japanese is… an extremely high bar? I think many native-English speakers don’t even have the level of fluency that psychiatry requires in English, especially because it also includes very specific medical and psychiatric jargon. I think it’s a cool goal to want to work in Japan, but I think you might want to consider focusing on treating English speakers in Japan, although I have no idea what population size this would actually represent…

Or maybe just use your psychiatry money to live in Japan 3 months of every year, haha, I don’t know. Not trying to discourage you, but I think when your initial learning goal is insanely high you might burn yourself out?


duuude i’m so envy right now, (and at the same time so proud of you). i would love to study medicine, but i want to pay the uni myself (in italy univeristy tuitions are waaaay more affordable than a lot of other countrys), so i’m currently searching for a job. i’m 22 now and i have neither a job or applied to the university. :sob:


Wow, this is so similar to me! I am a psychiatrist in America (last year of residency, then one year of forensic psychiatry fellowship). My dream would be to work in Japan as a psychiatrist, but probably only for English speakers, because I am not confident in my Japanese already, so complicated Freudian things would be a pain haha. I don’t have much to add other than good luck!


The greatest hurdle may actually be cultural from what I see; intangibles beyond a field’s expertise or language barrier. Japan seems to have quite a different perspective on mental health treatment compared to west (though don’t know your native country). I had a conversation recently just generally talking about what people do for substance abuse or family counseling, it’s just different. An indiscretion on cultural nuances could change a life or death situation…I imagine psychiatry is probably more vulnerable than say other areas of medicine. Hard to say if extensive time living abroad is factor, there are some things that just may not be understood. Nonetheless, best of luck on your ambitious goals.


あ〜、この気持ち〜! I can totally relate to this! However, if you have a strongly echoic memory, you actually did profit a lot from listening to the language while having fun at the same time :slight_smile:

It’s a very ambitious goal, but the last time I ushered the word まさか, I was wrong (yes, I ran out of tomatoes back then… :sob: ). Nothing’s impossible if you put your two hands and legs to it (and eat a lot of fish!).



I’m interested in your selection of study resources, what are they? You should pick up “文プロ” (if you haven’t yet). It’s interface is alot like WaniKani’s but it’s an srs for grammar.

I see people saying you’ll at least need the N1, but in reality you’ll need more, I’ve seen countless vloggers (who have N1) state it’s not enough to make you a fluent speaker, although it opens doors of oppurtunity.That’s probably because it dosen’t include a speaking or writing portion to it’s test like other langauge proficency test do (im no expert though).

I recommend following youtubers like oriental pearl, or MattvsJapan. They have separate ideology on what you should do to attain the fluency you’re looking for (which is native level). I feel like your on the right track, you already have a good resource for vocab and goals. Good luck!!! Don’t rush wanikani, It’s better to absorb and understand how to use what you know, rather than speed run the system saying you finished, knowing very little on how to apply your knowledge!


Well, culture wise I think our culture is very similar to Japanese culture.

I’m really curious where you’re from that you think this is the case?


Edit: I see you are already a doctor, but hope this is still helpful.

Onomappu happens to be a med student and has a video about this very topic:

His other videos are great too!


I haven’t read through all of the responses. However, at one time, a few years ago, I talked quite a bit here to a medical resident in Kyoto. Perhaps their language skills were already more advanced. However, it is at least possible in some way to make it happen.
I will find that users name, etc, …

I see above that others have considered the higher bar for psychiatrists than other types of doctors.
Well, this is the place and the crowd to help you puzzle this out.