Have you ever thought about moving to Japan? Maybe even working there? If you are reading this, you are probably still unsure how to or where to look for a job or an internship in Japan. No worries – I was in the same situation as you. With one difference – already on a plane to Tokyo with my one-way ticket, still with no job or place to stay. Eventually, I was able to try many things and even joined a company as an intern. But before that ever happened, I made tons of mistakes and learned so many things I wish I’d known just a bit earlier. And today, I am going to share all of this with you!
I was 20 when I thought – it’s now or never. I always wanted to try working in a Japanese company, and that was the time. I decided to use my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Japan on a working holiday visa for one year, starting in Tokyo.
As I’ve already known some Japanese, I thought it would be great if I could find a foreign-friendly office job or an internship, as I was planning to stay for around a year. When I finally found a lovely sharehouse that I decided to move into, I started to look for an internship. And here comes my first piece of advice.
- 1 Find a part-time job while looking for an internship (it may take time)
- 2 Join foreigners-related Facebook groups to find job opportunities (and great friends!)
- 3 Look for English-related jobs in bigger stores like Uniqlo
- 4 You can directly go to the place you want to work in and leave your CV
- 5 Check out Wantedly if you are looking for an internship
- 6 Summary
Find a part-time job while looking for an internship (it may take time)
This advice is especially for people on a rather low budget when coming to Japan. I was very optimistic about my job hunting, as I was highly motivated and had many interviews with promising companies. Sadly, for the whole first month, all I was doing was just sitting at home and waiting for the next interview. I was gradually losing my motivation, as the recruiting process is very long in Japan. I had to wait much longer than I expected and, after a while, I started to feel like I’m wasting my time here already. I also didn’t have much money then, which made me even more anxious and stressed.
I decided to find a part-time job, and at the same time, to look for opportunities such as internships or other job offers. Near my sharehouse, I found a cute café where I got my first part-time job in Japan. And that’s when I started to fully enjoy my time in Japan. Learning and doing new things was so fun, and I also had enough time to do my research on other jobs. Also, I’ve started earning some money (1100 yen per hour in a café in Tokyo), which is also important when starting to live in a foreign country.
If I could turn back time, I would definitely start working from the very beginning. Consider this when arriving in Japan, as part-time jobs can be so much fun!
FYI: I summarized the average wages per hour in Tokyo by genre.
Data is taken from townwork. According to this Japanese job recruitment website, the average wages per hour in Tokyo is 1.177 JPY which is about 100 yen higher than the average in entire Japan.
Don’t stick to an “internship”. A part-time job will be a good door opener!
The magic of Facebook Japan community groups is something I found out about definitely too late. You can meet lots of amazing and extremely helpful people there. Not only was I able to learn many things via stories shared by others about living in Japan, but there were also many job offers, perfectly suitable for foreigners and often well paid, as fluent English was required.
It is also a great way to catch up with people living around, especially when you come to Japan alone.
I highly recommend joining these groups:
- Foreigners in Tokyo
- Tokyo Job Seekers
- Jobs in Tokyo – 東京の求人
- Tokyo | Girl Gone International (women only)
- Tokyo Sayonara Sale
- Foreigner Support Services in Kansai (Osaka/Kyoto/Hyogo/Nara/Wakayama)
- Jobs in Japan (Kobe, Osaka, Hyogo)
- (Osaka Japan events and party)
What you won’t find on Facebook groups are job offers from bigger companies, which are also looking for English-speaking staff.
My absolutely favorite part-time job was one month in Uniqlo. I really regret it was only one month! Everything was so well organized that I felt a big difference between my previous jobs on a smaller business scale in Japan. The company’s policy is all about helping employees enjoy their job. A smiling photo on each one’s locker, “thank you” board where you can leave your message to your colleague. They even make people more motivated to do their work by changing their duties once in 30 minutes or an hour. It keeps them focused and the routine is not so exhausting.
I was working in Uniqlo Asakusa, Tokyo. Besides me, there were two other non-Japanese girls, one of them was hardly speaking any Japanese. Fluent English is a great advantage, and in stores like Uniqlo or Adidas, you don’t need to speak perfect Japanese to get the job. So, if you want to find an interesting part-time job and you don’t want to work in restaurants or cafes, I recommend applying to fashion stores similar to mentioned above. Depending on the place, the wage can also be quite high (1100-1500 yen per hour).
If you want to know about how to introduce yourself in Japanese on the first day of work, check out this article.
You can directly go to the place you want to work in and leave your CV
Although the recruitment process can be long and complicated in Japan, it doesn’t apply to part-time jobs. You can get hired very soon, and even faster when you call the place directly or even go there in person. If you show your positive energy and eagerness to learn during the first meeting, you will surely impress the employer from the very beginning. Next time you take a walk around your city, look around and check out if there are any cute cafes or interesting stores you would like to work in. And when you find the place – just walk in!
Check this article about self-introduction speech in Japanese for job interview.
Check out Wantedly if you are looking for an internship
The website where I finally found my Japanese internship is Wantedly. It’s a job platform where start-up entrepreneurs look for interns or employees, often with less strict requirements than big companies. You can also look for opportunities there as a freelancer. The company I started working in was a small but quickly expanding IT business. I started working as a web design intern with almost zero experience, every day learning something new. It was an incredible opportunity to broaden my horizons and see how the Japanese business works from the inside.
Unfortunately, Wantedly is all in Japanese, but if you apply to jobs such as graphic designer, English writer, or software developer, you can send them a message even in English. Many of them will contact you shortly.
You can also refer to online jobs in Japan – income, how-to-find, tipps
Even if you are still wondering whether to take a challenge and go to Japan or not, I hope these tips brought the idea of job hunting in Japan closer to you. Although I didn’t know any of these during my first months, although there are many things I wish I could have done another way, it was definitely one of the best times in my life. Finding a job in Japan may seem hard to achieve, but if you put in enough effort and stay positive, it can be way closer than you think.