Is It Actually Hard to Find a Job in Japan?

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  • Before first coming to Japan with my brand new Working Holiday Visa, I was told it was pretty difficult for a “gaijin” (aka foreigner) to find a job without speaking some decent Japanese.
    A lot of people, including my closest relatives, tried way too hard to engrave in my brain this incoherent information (and it somehow worked!).

    But the truth has to be spoken. If it is in fact quite complicated to find a position as a “fully accomplished executive” without an extensive Japanese knowledge, there are actually plenty possibilities and opportunities to start earning money in Japan (as a visa owner or as a simple tourist).

    Where to Look For?

    At the era of Internet and social networks, you really do have a ton of websites allowing you to at least have a quick look at what you could expect.
    To name a few there is the must-see “Craiglist” or “Jobs in Japan”. And if you prefer a physical assistance, you could eventually go to one of the “Hello Work” offices (for visa holders only).


    The Basic: Let’s Teach

    Obviously, the most convenient job, as well as for income and flexibility as for ease to exercise remains to teach your mother tongue. To do so, you can either work for a language school or by your own, dispensing private courses.

    To work in a language school, you will need to have a visa in your possession. Nevertheless, it is probably the most convenient option. In fact, even if the schedule is less flexible than teaching on your own, you won’t have to “hunt” your students. Less stress coupled with a more stable income.

    For my part, I preferred to give private lessons for a total control of my free time. Again, it is less comfortable, but nonetheless interesting. At the opposite of a language school where you will have to follow its own course of study (most of the time), teaching by yourself requires you to prepare and adapt your lessons to each student.
    To start diving into the “free-teaching”, I would advise you those diverse websites as “Hello Sensei” or “Get Students”.


    What Else?

    Apart from that, there are still a load of jobs waiting for you from cleaning man to foreigner testing samples of trimmer (no, you are not dreaming).
    And for both mentioned examples I am speaking of experience.

    I have actually worked (to probably prove to my family and to myself I was capable of hard work) as an “AirBnB cleaner”. Most of the team was like me: foreigners looking for making some money in Japan. And it turned out this job was quite enjoyable, with the possibility of choosing our own schedule. Some could say we were not using our brain, but I took the opportunity to listen to audio books while working. Again, it only belongs to you on how you want to spend your time and make the best out of it.

    One of the various good things about Japan, it is that because of the late border opening, Japan still has a strong image of the foreigner. In fact, you could find plenty offers asking to promote this “image”. Foreigner model would be part of those.
    But for my part, as I wrote before, it has happened to me to try trimmer samples in front of a Japanese Jury. Even if it was by far one of my weirdest experience, I definitely knew I was in Japan.

    Then, you could easily find classic jobs as waiter in a restaurant or as cashier in a “konbini” (little supermarkets opened day and night).
    Pretty tough jobs which remain really interesting to have a first contact with the Japanese language. Moreover, It is a good way to learn some cultural automatic reflexes.


    And Even More Specific Options

    If after all of this you still believe there is no place for a foreigner, let me tell you there are also job opportunities in some specific fields requiring a particular “savoir-faire”. Like working in a bakery or other expending craft jobs.

    Finally, you could even find exceptions of what I said at the beginning of this reading. Namely having the “fully accomplished executive” position without the need to speak in Japanese. In fact, Japan is hiring more and more international engineers, where all the inner communication is done in English.


    I am aware this article mostly applies to the big cities, and that it will be hard to find a job in the Japanese countryside. But, to be fair, it is not that easy neither for the average Japanese.
    Nevertheless, if you really do want to have a experience outside cities, I would recommend you
    the Wwoofing, where you could be housed for free in exchanged of helping the host in his the farm.


    Endless are the opportunities of jobs in Japan, but the rest depends on you! So… Gambatte!