Life in Japan

Dreaming of a Life in Japan? Reality Check!

I’m sure a lot of you secretly dream of a life in Japan.
Almost every day I get to read the same questions or statements in Japan related forums:
“I want to live in Japan in the future. I have XY qualifications…”
“I have no degree, no idea what I’m talking about, but I WILL live in Japan in the future”

etc. …

When experienced users give them a reality check they usually react rather childish and don’t want to believe what they read. Yet I think it is important to know the facts.
It’s good to dream, but in order for that dream to become reality you need to know what’s really going on!

While reading please keep in mind that this is not the “Perfect Guide for settling down in Japan“. I just want to point out a few things for anybody who has ever thought about a possible future life in Japan.
After all, I was once one of them. ;)


First Steps

I would recommend to ANYBODY no matter how much you think you know about Japan, that you come here for a short vacation first.
Sometimes this country can be very different from what you expect! Of course, a short vacation won’t be the same as actually living here.
Some things you won’t figure out until you actually have lived here for a while.
I write about various issues you might have to face when being living in Japan as a foreigner in my “A German Alien in Japan” series! smilie
Imagine you leave everything behind, possibly spend a little fortune to get settled in your “dream country” just to realize that it’s a “nightmare country” for you! smilie
First, come here for a short time!


So you survived the first contact, huh?

Great. You’re back home. You loved Japan. It was pretty much as you expected it to be, maybe even better.
You also noticed a few bad things, but you think they are minor enough so that you can easily cope with them.
After this experience you can now decide more easily whether you want to continue visiting Japan from time to time as a tourist or if you want to move and live in that country!


I want to live in Japan, how can I make this happen?

There are so many ways! Too many to list them all here. They also differ from country to country.
For example, there are several study & exchange programs, volunteering and so much more.
What we want is not one of those, though. None of them will let you stay in Japan for a very long time (read: more than a year).

First of all you need a visa other than a tourist visa which – for most countries – will only let you stay for 90 days in Japan (although you can extend it in some cases to 180 days).

Eventually you’ll either have to marry a Japanese citizen or find a job in order to legally stay in Japan long-term.


How to get a visa?

Again there are many options, but I’m only going to share the most common ones here.
There are always exceptions out there, but don’t expect that you’ll be one of the very few lucky ones!

In order to obtain a proper work visa in Japan you’ll need (in most cases):

  • a university degree (at least BA / BS) (*1)
  • 10 years of work experience in the field you want to work in Japan
  • to marry a Japanese citizen or get adopted by one

*1: There are a lot of different work visa types out there. Each has its own requirements, so check carefully which one would be applicable for you.
In most cases your degree has to be in the field of work you want to do in Japan. For the infamous English teaching jobs it’s enough to just have the degree, no matter in what! This only applies if you’re from a country that has English listed as an official language, though!
For anybody else (including me smilie) that won’t work. We need a degree that is actually related to teaching English or we have to prove that we were educated in English for (at least) 12 years.
Using this as an example, I guess you can see how complicated things can get.


Working Holiday Visa

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones and your country offers the “Working Holiday Visa“! (I was and that’s what I originally used to come to Japan!)
This is a short-term work visa for Japan. Please check the specific regulations for your own country as I can only speak for the German one!
It will allow you to work for about a year in Japan in almost(!) any kind of job!
However, before the visa expires you need to change your visa status to a “real” work visa in order to be able to continue working.
Even if you don’t want to work anymore after the visa expires, you cannot overstay your visa. This goes for ANY type of visa! You can leave the country (e.g. go to nearby Korea) and come back after a few days on a tourist visa. That’s what many people do.
If you’re only doing it once, it’s ok.
Some people tend to do it various times (leaving Japan and coming back on a new, fresh tourist visa only a few days later). Then, please expect that access to Japan might be denied!


The JET Programme

Another option is the JET programme which offers either ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) positions (where you’d be an English teacher) or CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) positions (but for that your Japanese needs to be very good). The programme is growing old, but is still very popular (read: too many applicants, not enough positions). If you’re unlucky (like mesmilie) and live in a non-English speaking country, it’s almost impossible to get in. There are years when there are no positions at all for countries where English is not the official language.
The good thing about it is that JETs are really pampered! You don’t have to worry about anything too much. They’ll take care of most things for you! smilie

However, even with the JET programme there comes a time when you cannot renew your contract anymore and you’ll need to find something else if you want to stay in Japan.


I don’t want to become one of those English teachers! I want to become a mangaka, (voice) actor, journalist, model etc.

First of all, being an English teacher can be a great job. It’s what you make out of it. I also thought I wouldn’t be able to teach little kids. It turned out to be so much fun!
Of course, teaching is not for everybody and you might have decided on your dream job already.

Let me tell you, yes it’s possible!
There are foreigners here in Japan who became musicians, models, actors etc.
To name only a few out of MANY:

Jamie Lynn Lano
She’s an artist, actress, writer and aspiring mangaka. You should read her series about “How to become a mangaka in Japan” esp. if you want to become one, too!

Ashley Thompson
She used to be a JET but is now a freelancing writer and the admin of the awesome blog “Surviving in Japan – without much Japanese“!

Micaela Braithwaite
Ciaela is a popular Youtube blogger living in Japan and has appeared on TV programs and magazines in Japan.

Danny Choo
He’s probably one of the most successful foreigners in Japan in the manga, anime and gaming business as of today. He says that discovering Japan changed his life.

But keep in mind that most of those people (including Jamie) started out as English teachers.
See it as a way to get one foot into the door and start working towards your goals from there! For many English native speakers, that’s your best bet.


In a nutshell:

It’s a long entry filled with a lot of information. What I want you to keep in mind is:

This article was written based on my personal experience.
Please feel free to share your own story and experience. smilie


  • This time in English c’:

    I think these kind of posts are very interesting and reading about other people’s experiences is really helpful. Like you said, some people seem to think Japan is a “flawless” country and it’s good that people like you list the facts which can be quite hard at times.

    Other than that, I love reading about people who actually made it :) That gives a great deal of hope! And it also gives me a great deal of “damn I want to visit Japan again right now when does the next flight go” c’:

    Die ganzen Infos sind echt super, da muss man sich echt für deine ganze Mühe bedanken! :))

    • Hello Sev!
      Thank you so much for your nice comment! :happy:
      I intend to introduce a few people in my blog who “made it”.
      I hope that this will help people to see what is possible (and what not).
      I also will post about the “bad things” in Japan. I don’t want to scare people or anything, but I think it’s good to know about those, too!
      People tend to prefer writing and reading about the good things only .. which is nice, but when it’s about a possible future in Japan, both sides (good and bad) should be considered.

  • I’m missing the negative points, especially when it comes to “JET”. There’s a huge armada of ex-JET’s in the net, that are spilling out their hatred about being a JET in Japan. It’s not only about the working conditions here in Japan, but very much about the typical kind of “buddies”, that you have to stand at the JET-schools. My personal opinion is, that we already have enough of that “low lifes” here and theat they better should reach out for a job as “assistant manager” at MacDonalds, Wendy’s or Burger King in their own countries…….

    • Well, we already talked about this in another blog, but I think you might also confuse JETs with dispatch ALTs.
      JETs usually don’t have anything to complain about, dispatch ALTs do.
      I’m not saying that JETs don’t complain, but they usually have pretty good working conditions.

      • Nope, no confusion. Yes, ALT’s are a different story. I already wrote in my first comment, that its mostly not the working conditions (e.g. salary) that is the biggest problem for JET’s: “There’s a huge armada of ex-JET’s in the net, that are spilling out their hatred about being a JET in Japan. It’s not only about the working conditions here in Japan, but very much about the typical kind of “buddies”, that you have to stand at the JET-schools.”

          • Oh please, don’t pin me down on that crap!
            I had 2 “native English” internships, which served as JET’s before. They complained literally the whole day about everything and everybody in Japan. Well, until i fired them…..

        • I’m really curious to hear a little bit more about your JET rant stories and about what happened.
          If you don’t mind and have some time, please e-mail me with further details.
          Thank you! ^__^

          (natürlich gerne auch auf Deutsch! *g*)

  • Thanks for the great article.
    I think many people need to be shaked up a little when it comes to dreaming of living in Japan.

    Myself, also living here already for some time, knows exactly that you need to work hard and also have some portion of luck. The job market is really empty at the moment – even Japanese have major problems finding a job. “And why should I hire you without speaking the language??” If you are an astonishing IT Specialist or Top-Manager I think you’ll have not so much trouble. But for the normal, (compared to Japan) lower educated people out there I recommend working holiday, study, as an Expat through company or if you found your dream prince – marriage.
    Immigration is tough in Japan! :rainy:

    Finally something I would like to say additionally. Everything that shines isn’t automatically gold! (Okay its a German saying and I dunno if I can just translate it like that. lol)
    Living and really working in Japan is not always so happy and fun. The working style is very tough and to work constantly with almost no holiday is extremely tiring/ depressing. There is also no much social security / welfare stuff, education and housing is expensive (at least in the cities).
    I love it here, don’t get me wrong, but it can be exhausting too. :disappointed:

    Anyway. Thanks for this article, Zooming! But I am afraid all those dreaming people won’t listen anyway. To anyone. :sweatdrop2:

    PS: These people who “made it” with Manga or sth. Did they really made it? Or do they just have a famous Blog and almost no income to pay the rent? You can be internet-famous but that doesn’t mean you are actually earn a good living… (If I am wrong, then I am sorry. Just it sounded like that on Jamies Blog..) :bah:

    • I agree that it can be exhausting at times even when you like your job.

      Well, I guess everybody who’s still in Japan, doing freelancing in a field that they really enjoy and still having enough money to live (for food, rent etc.) can be considered as somebody who “made it”. I don’t necessarily mean that they had their super big breakthrough (yet), but at least those example show that it’s not impossible, but also a lot of hard work.

      I have a lot of other examples of people where it maybe would be clearer that they made it, but I chose to pick those 2 because they write in English, so everybody can understand what’s going on.

      And about Jamie, I don’t know her financal situation or anything, so I think it would be better if she could answer this question herself! ^-^;

  • As a current JET I have to say that every placement is diffrent. Japan isn’t one homogonous country so there are lots of people who have wonderful experiences, and those that don’t. Japan has a unique and interesting history and culture, but just like any country there is good and bad. You shouldn’t expect it to be magically better than your home country, but there are definite opportunities for it.

    I never would have become an author if I hadn’t come here and been inspired! As my time on JET comes to a close, I’ll have to think long and hard about what kind of job I wan’t to do and where!

    • I’m glad to hear that you have / had such a pleasant experience!

      It’s true that it greatly depends on many things such as location, school, co-workers, students, though all in all I think it’s safe to say that JETs have it better than most dispatch ALTs.

      Not only JETs (where your time is clearly limited), but I think the majority of English teachers in Japan has the same problem: trying to figure out what to do after that.
      Only a handful of people actually stay in that profession.

  • na geil, das ist ja bald mein lieblingsthema^^ ich mein ich gehoer ja auch och irgendwie dazu… oder irgendwie nicht… keine ahnung… irgendwo dazwischen halt…
    ich finde allerdings das das mit einmal urlaub auch nicht getaen ist… wenn man zwei wochen hier ist sieht man all die geilen sachen die man so aus dem fernseher etc. kannte und findet die natuerlich noch geiler… und klar, alle leute sind auch weiss ich wie freundlich zu einem… in der realitaet sieht das aber alles nach ner zeit anders aus… und es ist ja auch oft nunmal so das die meisten leute nach zwei jahren anfangen an der entscheidung zu zweifeln, naemlich wenn sie merken das man doch immer irgendwo aussen vor ist… die hoeflichkeit ist ja auch ein zeichen das man nicht zu gruppe gehoert, darf man ja nicht vergessen…
    ein noch groesseres problem ist allerdings meist das alter der leute die hier hin wollen… mit anfang/mitte zwanzig hast du normal keine zehn jahre erfhrung oder uniabschluss mit entsprechender berufspraxis… und soweit ich weiss wird auch nicht jeder englischlehrer es sei denn er kommt aus nem englischsprachige land oder hat zwoelf jahre englische erziehung genossen… und dann ist man ja wieder bei den vorherigen qualifikationen…
    und die leute in den jeweiligen foren haben leider oder zum glueck alle recht… meistens klappts halt nicht so wie man will… selbst wenn man nen working holiday visum hat und selbst wenn man dann noch irgendwie was dran haengt (uni oder weiss ich was) verscheibt das nur das problem, denn in der zeit bekommt man auch keine erfahrung etc….
    ne andere moeglichkeit waere glaub ich noch hier ne ausbildung/uniabschluss zu machen, allerdings weiss ich icht wie das funktioniert… uni ist warscheinlich teuer… wer zb. vorhat ne sprachschule zu besuchen braucht auch einen gewissen schulabschluss fuers visum und das noetige kleingeld das normal 6000 euro sind… zuzueglich einem garanten der ein jahreseinkommen ueber 25k haben muss und einen gewissen betrag (der war auch nicht so niedrig) auf dem konto haben muss… und das wird ja kontrolliert…
    die meisten sind dann einfach auch etwas realitatsfremd in ihren ueberlegungen… bzw frag ich mich meist wenn es denn seien muss, warum jetzt? und warum wird sich nicht erstmal ne gewisse qualifikation besorgt? wenn man da keine zeit fuer hat kann der wunsch nicht so gross sein… von wegen ich wolte schon immer und so…
    zu den mangakas und models und weiss ich was, das ist auch manchmal kurz gedacht… das geht, aber auch nur mit ner festen einstellung auf vollzeit, die gibts als schauspieler und model aber sehr selten… und wenn man die hat ist man da auch recht leicht austauschbar, zumal das ja meist schon ne altersbedingte sache ist… und wenn dann halt kein job mehr da ist, was machste dann? dann gibts wieder kein visum… nen deutschen mangaka kenn ich ier sogar… der war aber zu ner besseren zeit am start und hat das hier an ner uni gelernt… war aber anscheinend auch ein teurer spass…
    zum heiraten, das ist ja meist (boese gesgt) die notloesung junger frauen und das wage ich auch oft anzuzweifeln (bei fans eines bestimmten landes/gruppierung/etc frag ich ich eh ob das so neutral gewaehlt ist dann grade nen partner in der gruppe zu suchen…)… da ists aber wieder das selbe: was machste wenn du gescheiden bist und nicht auf pr gewechselt hast? dann gibts kein visum mehr und man dreht sich im kreis… hab letztens noch mit wem geredet die laesst sich grade scheiden… nach grandiosen 4 monaten… mag nen extremfall sein, was ich damit eigentlich sagen will ist das man sich lieber selbststaednig um was kuemmern sollte anstatt sich von wem abhaengig zu machen (und in diesem fall bist du abhaengig von deinem partner)… man kann auch heiraten wenn man sein eigenes visum hat… das muss man nicht unbedingt aendern… klar hat nen spouse visum seine vorteile, aber fuer den fall das waer ich da vorsichtig… abgesehen davon das das ja auch zu einfach ist^^
    leider kann ich gross keine tips geben… ich habs einfach gemacht… icht gross labern und so (das wird ja auch gerne gemacht) sondern vorbereiten und ab in flieger und los gehts… ist nen teurer spass (ich hab locker mehr als 1,5 jahresgehaelter hier platt gemacht… einzugskoste und so sind auch nicht zu verachten) wenn ihr pech habt, aber was solls… von nichts kommt ja nichts…

  • Great post! I think the biggest issues people face are getting a visa and finding suitable housing. I moved to Japan before visiting and I wasn’t away from America for more than 1 week at a time before that. The first year I faced some difficult challenges when adjusting to the culture. Knowing the language would have really helped, so I recommend studying as much as you can – even studying a few chapters in a book or listening to an audio books is better than nothing.

  • Great article. Living in Japan is indeed both wonderful and challenging. Actually, I take that back, it’s only challenging if you want to stay here long-term. A lot of folks come for about a year and a half and then high-tail it back to their home countries, and that seems to work out fine.

    Staying long term has two major challenges, I’d say, and they’re related. The first challenge is when real life catches up with you. You know, all that serious stuff, like paying taxes and going to the doctor and dealing with people being born and dying. If you’re here long enough, you’ll have to deal with that, and it’s not always easy in a foreign language and culture. I write about stuff like that on my own site, so I won’t go into detail here.

    The second challenge is, I hate to say it, racial. If you don’t look “Japanese,” you’ll have to deal with people treating you like a foreigner. That’s actually what a lot of people like about Japan initially–everybody gives them special treatment. You might find that gets really old after a couple of years. Some people deal with it better than others, but everybody deals with it. Ironically, the more Japanese you speak, the worse it gets, as people scramble to bring you English menus and try out their high-school English every time they see your face.

    • Hi Ken.

      I totally agree with everything!
      Especially the second point can be very tough sometimes. I think many people underestimate this, because they cannot really imagine it – until it’s too late!
      Being treated as an outsider for the rest of your life can be VERY TOUGH and not everybody can deal well with that. :(

  • “at least ten years of experience”
    If you want to be an english teacher do you have to teach for ten years first? That is a large number!

    • I think you already figured it out yourself, looking at your other comment! ^__^
      Maybe other people are wondering about it, too!
      As long as you are a native speaker of English that’s usually enough to get a work visa. Of course you also need a university degree (BA / BS).
      If you DON’T have a university degree, THEN you need at least 10 years of experience in that field.

  • Oooops. Nevermind! I misread your entry. Obviously I need to do a lot more research myself! Your blog is quite the inspiration!

  • Hey! Great post. Move to Japan to do my master is one of my dreams and maybe work there for a while after do it too. I’m actually doing all the research to get a scholarship through the Japanese embassy in my country. But sometimes I’m scared of do this big change in my life cause I’m latin American, obviously my native language is Spanish and I don’t know anything about Japanese language, I know English but is not enough when I think in serious things as get sick and all those complicated stuff, even though I have two similar cases next to me, one of those came back after do his master and another stay there after it and get a good job, they both had great experiences there.
    I don’t know how it’s going to be in my case because I’m architect, don’t know how is to get a job in the area but I’m exciting about the idea of move there, I love the culture above all its architecture.

    • Hello!

      I totally understand. I think everybody is anxious and afraid of the unknown.
      Moving to a foreign country can be quite scary, but if it’s something you really want to do AND you get the chance to do so, then that’s all that matters!
      Everything else will fall into place!
      You can study hard and learn Japanese if you want / need to.
      There will be other people around who can help you in case of an emergency! :)

  • Thanks for this post!

    I think there are just too many naive kids (yes, even if they are already over 18, maybe over 30, their minds are like little kids), who are living in their dreamworld and emigrate in teir wishing country without any further information and preperations.
    I mean… Who are going to stay in a country permanently without speaking the language at least a bit or planing to learn it?! Or without knowing anything about the culture?! And and and… I mean, if you don’t inform yourself beforehand, it’s not surprising, if you have to move back after a few years or month. :notamused:
    Everybody should know, that LIVING in a country isn’t like making holidays there.
    And please at least TRY to integrate yourself. I’m tired of immigrants in Germany who don’t care about Germany at all, just want to live here in order to get money from the state. And I heard storys like this also from people in different countrys, also Japan. Why should you live there when you only want to speak english, having friends from your homecountry only and so on?? :hum:

    (Sorry, I’m just pissed from people like that. They are making it even harder for people who really want to stay there forever and doing their best to be a representable member of the i.e. japanese society. :whyohwhy: )

    • That’s right – and that goes not only for Japan, but for any other country as well.
      You might know the show “Goodbye Deutschland”. There are so many people who move to another country with wrong expectations and almost zero preparation. What are those people thinking?

      • It’s really embarassing that they are even allowed to produce such things and it’s getting worse and worse. There are people who believe the storys of scripted reality shows and ‘Dokusoaps’ in general. Alot of entertainment shows in Germany are served pseudo-reality by people in need of money who are willing to act even more excessive for a few Euros.
        ‘Goodbye Deutschland’ is no exception to that. It might have some near-to-reality stories but if it wasn’t controversal and irrational in some way, it would not be sent.

        I haven’t lived in a different country on my own, so i can’t tell how it’s going to be. But wouldn’t it be boring if i knew how it was? That’s what keeps the dream up after all! That doesn’t mean one doesn’t need to be informed before going there ofc. It’s clear that you can’t expect to be on holidays if you are serious about working in Japan, especially if you want to be hired in a particular field. After quite some thoughtful hours back then when i was still in school I came to the conclusion that a bachelor/master degree will get me far better options when obtaining a working holiday visa. I could not waste this thing so easy!
        I don’t know about the short term visit first tho. Poor students – big issue :disappointed:

  • This surely is some pretty great article, which exactly hits the line between what I’d call motivating and depressing.
    I am a mediocre speaker of the Japanese language (still learning of course), have lived in Japan for one year and recently graduated (bachelor). At least for some time I’d want to consider living and working in Japan, as the one year I spent there was absolutely fascinating and among the best times of my entire life.
    Do you guys think, that a master degree’s necessary or will my bachelor degree be sufficient for finding some decent job already? Also, with all the OJT (on the job training) in Japan, does it even matter what subject I was studying?

    • I guess it’s partly motivating and partly depressing because I tried to describe the reality here in Japan – and it IS both! :(

      It does matter what you study – maybe not so much in terms of your future job, but certainly in terms of the work visa.
      In most cases you need at least a BA / BS degree (though MA is always better) in the field you consider working in Japan.
      If you want to be an engineer, then that should be your major.
      However, it is tough. You need to ask yourself the question why they should take a foreigner for a job when a Japanese person who knows the language and the culture can do it, too?!

      The trick is to find jobs where they prefer to have foreigners for whatever reason!
      Most foreigners in Japan work therefore as language teachers, translators, journalists etc.

      • Yep, I totally understand. Of course it wasn’t meant as criticism.
        Although I’m fully aware of how terrible the Japanese job market and working life are, it’s just really depressing when you read through some of the comments or experiences on the Internet, where most people tend to have a rather negative view of working as a Gaikokujin in Japan.
        But I guess there are cases where it went pretty well, too.
        It’s just like googling symptoms when being sick. You will always come to the conclusion that you have terminal cancer in every part of your body and about six more minutes to live. In fact, however, you’re not even close to that (usually at least. Sorry to all others. Enjoy the six minutes).

        On the topic of working as a foreign journalist in Japan I beg to differ, though. Of course I have no experience in that field, but as it was among my preferred options for what do after graduating, I have tried to do as much research as possible on how to become a journalist in Japan. Sadly the opportunities are rare and the chances low – or rather close to non-existing. Vast amounts of job-seekers seem to aim for work, which will not make them end as mindless exhausted office drones. Journalism’s certainly one of the most appealing decisions for many, as today everyone feels like their opinion’s of superior importance and/or they’re born to be a writer (blogging generation, no offense). Moreover Japanese media are said to be hard to get into without any good connections and such. Therefore I guess that journalism might not be one of the main fields where Gaikokujin are working in Japan. But feel free to enlighten me of course ;)

        • You know that there are a few English newspapers and magazines here in Japan, right?
          There’s also Asahi Weekly which is focused on Japanese people who want to learn English.
          Jamie who I mentioned in this post wrote articles and was on their TV programme for many years!

          It’s not easy as there are only a few positions, but it’s also not impossible.

          • Haha, yeah, of course I was aware of that fact (not about Jamie, but about the English media in Japan). But as it’s so hard to set foot in that business, I dared to assume that it’s not one of the main fields, Gaikokujin are working in.
            Anyway, I would greatly appreciate it, if getting in wasn’t that hard, as it’s my preferred kind of work as well (have been working in the editorial department of a big European publishing company while being a student). ;)

  • Hi, do you have some advice for a good Japanese Teaching Software ?
    I guess a Real / Personal Teacher would be too expensive for a few Months.

    Thank you very much, your Blog is Realy Helpfull even if Reality isnt allways Sunnshine ^_^

    • Everybody has to use a different approach to learn a language. For me a teacher / tutor or a classroom wasn’t the right thing.
      I didn’t have to spend a lot of money. I just bought some second-hand books and used online material.
      The two things that helped me the most were Anki and Lang-8.

      I guess I should write a blog post about studying Japanese. ^^;;

  • I saw this post late but glad I saw it anyway. Thank you for the information. I am from North East India and a fluent english speaker. I just completed my postgraduation in Mass communication and was planning to move to Japan. I plan to take up two years Japanese Language course in a language school. Although now I am hesitating a little as whatever I have read online somehow indicates the work opportunites are better if one is Caucasian and it is kind of a must to be native english speaker to take up a teaching job. Well I want to work as a Public Relations specialist but wouldn’t mind working as a teacher for a year or two for experience. Can you tell me what’s the scope for media related jobs including public relations, advertising, etc and also the scope for hospitality jobs? And will it be hard to get a job because I am an Indian despite the qualifications? Also which city in Japan will provide more such job opportunities other than Tokyo?

    • Hey Tanya! :)

      I’m not familiar with job opportunities outside of teaching English. All I can tell you is that great Japanese skills will be necessary, so attenting a language school first, sounds like the way to go! Check out jobsites like GaijinPot to see if there are any PR jobs and what they require. That will give you a better image of the reality.

      It might be harder, yes, but not impossible. No need to give up before you have even tried. It’s unfair, but that’s the reality.
      So many people told me to give up right away as I won’t get a job as non-native speaker of English and yet I did.
      All I can do is tell you that it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly possible! :)

      Any big city in Japan will have lots of job opportunities, especially Osaka and Fukuoka come to mind. Kobe is smaller, but there are a lot of foreign companies, so you might want to consider it as well.

  • Hi!

    That’s quite a sobering article. Thank you for this, really! Also sobering, yet these facts made me heart-broken. I had a serious plan to travel to Japan and maybe work there and live, but, dunno, these requirements make it seemly impossible.

    I have a profession of goldsmith and metalworking, I finished school last year, and I’m not native English speaker. I’m close to to be 27 years old, and I don’t have any BA/BS or MA qualifications. I have a VERY good sense to learn languages and I’m quite good in English but that’s not enough, as I can see. I’ve never learned Japanese but I’d more than happy to do it.

    What do you think about my opportunities? What could be possible to do, at least? Am I in a damn dead-end?

    Thank you for all this.

    • Are you eligible to get the working holiday visa? If so, then that might be a great ‘door opener*.
      If you have enough cash, you could attend a Japanese Language Institue, get a student visa and obtain the permisson to work part-time.
      If you have a lot of experience (about 10 years) in the field you want to work, then you might be able to obtain a work visa without having a BA / BS degree.
      Other than that, you could become a spouse, but for that you need to marry a Japanese citizen.

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