Working in Japan

What it’s like to work at bar in Japan (Interview)

In this article we introduce what it’s like to work at bar in Japan after the articles about work in marketing, sales and retail store. And the content will be significantly good reference for you to grasp how a day of the life looks like when you work for a bar or restaurant in Japan as full-time job because we did interview and show the real daily schedule and difficulties to be a stuff of a bartender based of true statement.

Case introduction

RYO ISHIDA – working as a bartender at a bar near Tokyo station. One of the best and most expensive place to drink and eat something. Ishida entered the company that import craft beers from abroad and sell at its own bars just after his graduation of high school with 18 years old. His job was to serve foods and drinks and also bartender at the same time. In 2018 with the age of 30, he became the bar manager. His dream is to be an area manager in some years, and after that open his own bar independently. He explained how his daily schedule look like, his salary, pros and cons of working at a bar in Japan.

Gerd AltmannによるPixabayからの画像

A day of Ishida

11:00 Getting up
12:00 Breakfast
14:00 Fee time (e.g. Shopping)
16:30 Arrive the bar
17:00 Start working
23:00 Dinner break
02:00 Close the bar
03:00 Arrive home

What he keeps in mind for work

  1. To not letting customers wait too long
    ➡ always keep an eye on customers, and not let them wait so long
  2. To keep the high quality of drinks even super busy
    ➡ speed and quality are both important and none of those must be missing
  3. Treat customer as a king or god
    ➡ even if the customer complains about unreasonable things, first apologize and let them calm down


Starting monthly net income when he was 18: 200.000 JPY (=1.900 USD)
After 10 years: 250.000 JPY (=2.400 USD)
As bar manager: 280.000 JPY (=2.700 USD)

In Japan, it is known that working at restaurant or bar as full time job is really tough and hard for very small amount of money. He was quite lucky to have got 200.000 net income as starting salary. 160.000 JPY (=1.500 USD) and almost no day-offs could easily happen.

200.000 JPY is not a lot when you live in Tokyo since all the living expenses are relatively high. I strongly recommend you to get certificates of something in order to increase your salary such as sommelier or beer meister. Just to be a good worker won’t be enough to get salary increased.

Pros and cons


  • It will make you happy if you are thanked by customers directly.
  • You can improve your skills and knowledge about alcohol and foods by doing your job which will be useful when you open your own bar in future.


  • Long working time and less day offs
  • You can’t reach a very high salary
  • Often the hierarchy is too strong

Not only Ishida, but many workers and chefs are suffering from violence both with hand and word from their colleagues called Senpai (senior). This is also one of the well-known realistic in restaurants in Japan. There are often cases that employees are getting depression endless due to bullying and too hard and unreasonable education from Senpai.

So it would be great work place for you as long as you like the restaurant and bar. Thus the colleagues are kind to you. In case you face such dangerous colleagues, quit with maximum speed.

Justin MartinによるPixabayからの画像
Yuki Nagahori
BA in German / Japan Country Manager at editorial company → Sales → currently sales planner based in Hamburg, Germany