Working in Japan can be a very stimulating experience, extremely different from everything you are accustomed to in your home country. Before challenging yourself in the research of a job, you should be aware of the bureaucratic procedures required to be eligible to work in this country. This article is going to give a general overview of the information needed to start this challenge.
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Do I need a visa?
Any paid activity you may carry out in Japan requires the issuing of a specific visa.
Tourist visa holders (generally allowed to stay in Japan up to 90 days) cannot engage any paid activity. However, the research of a job is permitted.
To work legally, adequate documents and procedures are mandatory. Even if Japan is famous for its discipline and order, some case of clandestine work involving foreigners occurs. Distrust any dubious job offer, since illegal work can lead to heavy penalties or, worse, to the ban from the country.
There are various type of working visas, depending on the professional field you are going to work in (i.e. education, entertainment, IT, gastronomy, etc.). The criteria for the visa issuance vary according on the agreements between the Japanese Government and your country. It also depends on the kind of job you are willing to do. Some may require specific qualifications (as a degree) or several years of experience in that particular field.
If you success in finding a job, your employer has to start the procedure to let you have the Certificate of Eligibility, inquiring the closest immigration office in Japan. Once you get this document (usually taking about 1-3 months), it will be easy for the Japanese Embassy office to issue your working visa. The next thing to do is to book your flight and enjoy the upcoming experience.
Once you land in Japan, you will receive your Residence Card. It allows you to access various services, as opening a bank account or stipulating a mobile phone contract.
It’s important to notice that the type of visa you obtain (e.g. a work as a English teacher) it’s strictly related to the job you are going to do. If you intend to change it while in Japan, you have to present an inquiry at the nearest immigration office in order to update your documents.
There are other kind of visas that allows you to work while staying in Japan, although subjected to particular limitations (as a maximum number of working hours per week or the type of permitted job).
One is the working holiday visa, available just for specific countries and for people between 18 and 30.
Student visa holders are eligible to work as part-timers after getting the permission from an immigration office. Since a student visa is easier to obtain, people often get to Japan to study the language and, meanwhile, they start looking for an employment. The procedure to change this type of visa into a working visa is, sometimes, easier.
What about my skills?
A question that often pops in one’s mind is: do I have to speak Japanese?
Actually, there’s no definitive answer. Is it obvious that being proficient in the language spoken in the country you are going to live in will help you at work (and in daily life as well).Some working position, though, do not require Japanese language as a mandatory skill. For example, the most commonly employment found in Japan is the English teacher (in lesser extent, other foreign languages as well). In many cases, there’s no need to be able to speak Japanese.
Sometimes, international companies (where the main language is English) often hire foreigners. In general, if you are not from an English speaking country, it’s it strongly recommended to be proficient in this language.
It is suggested, however, to know the basic of the Japanese language. Even attending a short Japanese language course could help you to get the job you are dreaming of. It will also help you to get the most out of your life in Japan, allowing you to make new friends and fun experiences.
Generally, regarding the work you intend to do, it’s advantageous to have as many qualifications (or years of experience) as possible. If you do not hold a degree, try to attend related courses or to make experiences in this working field.
How can I find a job in Japan?
The most common way to find an employment is, of course, the Internet. There are many website where job offers are published daily. The most famous is GaijinPot. Other resources are Daijob, Jobs in Japan or, for language teachers, GetStudents.If you intend to start a business in Japan, useful information can be found on the Japan External Trade Organization web site.
As mentioned before, another way to find a suitable job is to come to Japan with a tourist or student visa and attempt to find chances directly on the place. Remember to bring a ton of business cards with you!
With a good dose of luck, it’s also possible to get a job by word of mouth. Start to look for Japanese communities or associations near your city, keep on being informed about events and attend activities related to Japanese culture. Sometimes, chances are right under our nose.
How is it like to work in Japan?
Congratulations, you successfully passed your job interview! It’s time to pack your stuff and get ready for a new challenge. Be aware that the Japanese working environment may be very different compared to the one you are used to.
Forget all you learned about individuality: in Japanese offices, what really matters, is the outcome of the team. You will be expected to build good relationships with your co-workers and superiors. Arguments are pretty much unlikely to happen, any problems will be mediated with a smoother approach.
The concept of hierarchy is also strongly linked with Japanese society. Be sure to respect and comprehend this principle because it will surely determine your well-being in the workplace.
Japan is also famous for recurrent overtime and few days off, consequence of the strong sense of commitment. As a foreigner, you are not supposed to follow along all the rules, but know that this is going to happen all the time around you.
You better make an in-depth research before taking your final decision and ask yourself if you are ready to adjust your working lifestyle according to the Japanese one.
Working in Nara
While it’s a matter of fact that big cities like Tokyo or Osaka offer a wider range of chances, it is also true that these cities are characterized by a strong competition. Every year, the number of foreigners trying to find a job in Japan is drastically increasing.
On the other hand, choosing Nara as the city to live and work in may represent a great advantage. Its contained dimensions, along with the low number of foreigners, could be the right equation to let you fulfill your dream. In addition, if you are looking for a less hectic lifestyle and you’d love to immerse yourself in the ancient historic heritage of this city, you are surely on the right track.
You can find out more about working in Nara reading this personal story.
- Alice Meniconi
I am an italian designer in love with Japanese culture and Studio Ghibli's movies. In 2015, I moved to Nara for my academic internship. Since then, this city became my second home. After I graduated at ISIA Firenze in 2016, I came back to my beloved Nara to enjoy a three months working experience.