Work and Travel in Japan
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN JAPAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Many foreigners, hold a lifelong desire to travel to Japan, perhaps because the culture is so unique and exotic, especially for westerners. It has a reputation for being expensive and difficult for outsiders to assimilate into, so it’s best to be well-prepared before attempting to work and travel here.
However, for those that are willing to push through the culture shock, the rewards for working and travelling in Japan can be great. Read on through our guide to making the most of your adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun.
1. Work in IT in Japan
The tech field, of course, is constantly expanding and evolving, and Japan is a country often on the cutting-edge of technological advances. If you have good programming or software engineering skills, you can often find work without speaking much Japanese, which is generally a barrier to entry for many foreigners seeking work in Japan.
2. Teaching English at cram schools
Teaching English as a native speaker is the most common position for foreigners looking to work and travel in Japan. The jobs often don’t pay very well, but backpackers can find work teaching at any time of year, and therefore is a great starting point for new arrivals looking to learn about Japanese culture.
3. Caregiving in an ageing home
It is common knowledge that Japan has the highest proportion of elderly citizens of any country in the world. This has created a busy and booming market for elder care, since many young people in the big cities live in cramped apartments are too busy with work to keep their parents at home.
If you enjoy working with older people, you don’t necessarily need any experience or even great Japanese language skills to start working in elder care in Japan.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR JAPAN
Japan allows several nationalities from having to obtain a tourist visa before entering the country. Citizens from most European countries, United States, Australia, and Argentina do not need to get the Japan Tourist Visa since they are considered visa-exempt countries for tourism purposes. Nationals from any of those regions can stay in Japan for a maximum of 90 days visa-free and are assigned Temporary Visitor status. Under the single-entry regulation, tourists can remain in Japan for up to 30 days, but this tourist visa is valid for a period of up to 90 days. Tourists can also apply for a double-entry visa for 2 short trips within a 6-month period. An E-Visa option is upcoming, but has yet to be released, likely due to the pandemic.
Citizens of China, Russia, the Phillippines, Vietnam and CIS countries will need a tourist visa sorted before entering the country.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN JAPAN
For being a relatively small, island-based country, Japan enjoys a wide variety of climates. Visitors are attracted not only to the cities but to mountain resorts and organic farms in small rural villages. Backpackers have their choice from a variety of beautiful locations when finding work in hospitality.
Springtime is the best point in the year to find hospitality work, with many visitors coming over to witness the cherry blossoms but before western tourists start to arrive on summer vacation en masse. There are hotels alongside hot springs where you can volunteer in exchange for a bed, as well as hostels in the big city of Hokkaido where you can learn the art of running a hostel.
We recommend finding a work and travel opportunity at one of Japan’s many organic farms in the summer months. There are the usual fruit and vegetable farms, but also bee farms where honey is harvested, and terraced farms for rice.
You’ll learn unique growing methods that will give you an edge back home if you decide to continue in the gardening or landscaping field. Just be aware that summers in Japan can be extremely hot, so you should be in good physical condition.
Many people say autumn is the best time of year to visit Japan, since the weather is at its most pleasant and mild.
It’s a great time to join historical conservation projects in the country. You’ll have the option of working in far off temples or hosting groups that visit these sites. All you need to partake in these projects is an interest in history and a willingness to work.
Japan has proudly hosted the winter Olympics before, and it is clear to see why - the ski resorts are very popular. Backpackers can find work and travel opportunities at these places in Nagano, Niigata, and Yamagata prefecture, even if you don’t have any winter sports experience. How? Often au pairs are needed to watch after children, or chalet cleaners to keep the resorts clean.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN JAPAN
Japan is an extremely modern country, with all the comforts of home and then some. You shouldn’t have any concerns about health issues or safety while working and travelling in Japan.
The challenges for a foreigner in Japan come with understanding the nuances of social behaviour within the culture. As a westerner, it can be difficult to grasp the priority of “the group” over the individual. You must learn to respect these social constructs, however, or you will not be embraced by your employers. Some ex-pats complain that even after years of living in Japan and learning the language fluently, they never truly feel welcome.
Japan is certainly an enticing and mysterious bucket-list country for working travellers. So the only question remains - are you ready to start planning your Japanese adventure?
- Edited on Jun 4 2021 by