Jobs for foreigners in Japan

What jobs can you get in Japan on a working holiday visa?

So you’ve got your WHV for Japan and you’re probably wondering what jobs you can get over there. If you’re anything like us, you probably can’t speak much Japanese.

Good news: you can get paid work in Japan, but it will require a lot of effort from you. Imagine sending a load of emails, then multiply that by about 10. That is what it takes to find someone that can respond in English and who is willing to employ you.

What jobs can you get in Japan (not teaching)?

Our only criteria when applying for jobs was to avoid teaching English. Despite being fluent in other languages ourselves, we just don’t have the gift for teaching one. Of course if you actually want a teaching job, they are pretty easy to get (apparently).

Of the 5 months we spent in Japan, we only went about 3 weeks without any work. This was mostly in Okinawa where even the locals can’t find work, or we chose to spend our time visiting cool stuff. We changed job every 2/3 weeks meaning that we got to see so many different places. It was awesome.

Working in hostels

We got paid to work in hostels twice. When we found out that a certain hostel chain employs foreigners and gives you cheap accommodation at the same time, we quickly applied and secured work before we even arrived in Tokyo. Normally they request a minimum of 1 month, but we were able to negotiate 3 weeks in 2 of their locations across Japan. If you wanted you could easily go from one of their hostels to another. They pay is good and staff accommodation is dirt cheap!

Working on farms

This one was not easy but we successfully secured a job on a cherry farm in Hokkaido. We were the only foreigners, they couldn’t speak a word of English and we had practically no experience, but they took us anyway. It was probably one of the best experiences we had in Japan!

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Working for food and accommodation

Although we naturally preferred to have paid jobs, we did work for food and accommodation through sites like WWOOF Japan and Workaway. The advantage is that you are often so far away from anything else that you hardly spend any money while there, and you can pick up some new skills at the same time).

We did everything from working in a temple near Kyoto to picking lemons in Hiroshima and feeding chickens in Saitama. There is something for everyone and generally the subscription fee is worth paying for the amount of food and accommodation you get in return. Just remember that you are agreeing to work for ‘free’. You need to be okay with that!

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Conversation exchange

Ok, so we said that we didn’t want any teaching jobs, but in a moment of desperation we both signed up to HelloSensei to earn extra cash. We made it clear on our profiles that we were only capable of conversation practice and we were still contacted by a few individuals. This method only really works if you’re staying in one place for a long time, but it is cool because you can choose when you work and fit sessions around something else.

You can earn money without teaching in Japan

Conclusion? You don’t need to become a language teacher overnight to earn money in Japan. It won’t be easy but you can find other work, and even more easily so if you’re willing to stay in one place for an extended period of time.

If you are interested about any of the jobs mentioned in this post, please contact us directly! We chose not to mention names for the privacy of others.

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