I want to live in Japan for a year, anyone here with experience?

Feb 10, 2010
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#1
Hey peeps.

As the title suggests I'm looking to go to Japan for a year on a holiday working visa (from UK). Travel the beautiful country and work, with an aim to get a better feel for the actual daily life.

I'm not going via a 'normal' route which is to apply to something like Nova and have them take care of me, instead I want to just go and apply for work as I live and travel.

Anyone else here had experience doing this? Was it a good/bad experience?

I'm really nervous about actually finding work and worried I'll struggle to support myself! I'm planning on taking an ESL course so I can possibly teach English. Actually that's something I'd like to do.

Any tips or advice greatly appreciated!
 
Oct 17, 2016
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#2
I've worked in Japan twice in the last ten years and I strongly recommend that you find some kind of employment or save enough money to support yourself before setting out for East Asia. This isn't the 80s or the 90s, so your gaijin status will not open as many doors as you'd like to believe and, moreover, it is extremely hard to find meaningful employment unless you speak the language at a functional level.

If you want to teach English, or do eigo kaiwa (train them on English conversation), look for schools that hire from overseas. They exist. You don't need to be an English major to teach in Japan, though legitimate credentials would help you secure the cushiest spots. Try the regional markets (Kumamoto, Akita, Hokkaido, etc.) - there's less competition and the cost of living is way lower than in Tokyo. As a matter of fact, avoid Tokyo like the plague. Visit, enjoy, have fun but do not live there or you'll drain your funds extremely fast - the place's a black hole.
 
Feb 13, 2012
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#3
I went to Japan on a WHV. Worked at a convenience store.
I honestly think it will be difficult to get work teaching English, especially if you aren't settled somewhere. It also doesn't pay as well as you might think it does.
 
Dec 6, 2017
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#4
You may want to look up the accounts of people who have tried the same thing as you. They tend to be negative and filled with regret. Japan is crazy expensive, overall pretty boring, the people generally aren't too impressed with foreigners who show up and make no effort to speak their language and whilst speaking English is a big plus in a lot of poorer Asian countries, Japan has no shortage of qualified English speaking teachers who are also fluent in Japanese and already live there.

Go there on holiday instead. It'll preserve the idealistic image of Japan so many westerns have.
 
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Dec 6, 2008
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Have you traveled to the country before at least? I love visiting the region, but the lusters wears off for long term stays. Japan isn't the most friendly country to foreigners. I'm not talking about racism per se. They've just historically been one of the hardest countries to settle in as a foreigner.

There's a big reason why white collar professionals aren't as excited about the place compared to other countries.
 
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Oct 24, 2017
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Yeah I am with the rest traveling and work will be almost impossible. Best is to settle down for a year and work. While travel in your freetime if you have the money for it. Also to be able to teach english you also need a basic level of Japanese. Your best chance are still usual organisations that will help you
 

Cybrwzrd

Anime waifu panty shots are basically the same thing as paintings of the french baroque masters, if you think about it.
Sep 29, 2014
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#8
I lived there for over a year, going to this school for language study - www.yamasa.org/en/index.html

I also taught English and bartended part time. Mind you this was back in 2003-2005. It was a wonderful experience, I had a blast. Mind you, I did speak intermediate Japanese from 4 years of study before enrolling.

I will write up something later about my experience and any tips I have.
 
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Some negative posts about living in Japan so I will just say that I enjoyed my time I was here on the WHV, and am still living here.
It is definitely not expensive, maybe if you live in Tokyo, but who wants to live there.
 
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Cybrwzrd

Anime waifu panty shots are basically the same thing as paintings of the french baroque masters, if you think about it.
Sep 29, 2014
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#10
Some negative posts about living in Japan so I will just say that I enjoyed my time I was here on the WHV, and am still living here.
It is definitely not expensive, maybe if you live in Tokyo, but who wants to live there.
Yep, don't live in Tokyo (or in the heart of any big city really). And if you really want access to a big city pick suburban Nagoya or Osaka ( someplace ~45 mins by train to city center) as a place to live.

Osaka and Nagoya are better anyways.
 
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navii

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#13
My mate is currently doing this. He did a lot of background planning before he went there, but he just went and did it.

Front my general conversations with him you should be looking at getting a local phone number, bank account, renting an apartment. He also mentioned getting some sort of personal stamp.

He hired an apartment in Tokyo, went there without a job. Took him a few months to get a job as a web designer for a big company. He can hardly speaky any Japanese. He said he almost ran out of money before he got the job.

I think ahead of the upcoming Olympics and other big sporting events, there might be more employment opportunities for English speakers.

Good luck.
 
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Whataburger

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Japan eh? I've always wanted to visit. None of the cities though. I want to scare off people from killing themselves in the forest of death. Like a reverse Scooby Doo. For about 4 months. Sounds like a bad idea but not as bad as being practically a hobo in a foreign country.
 
Feb 10, 2010
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#15
If you want to teach English, or do eigo kaiwa (train them on English conversation), look for schools that hire from overseas. They exist. You don't need to be an English major to teach in Japan, though legitimate credentials would help you secure the cushiest spots. Try the regional markets (Kumamoto, Akita, Hokkaido, etc.) - there's less competition and the cost of living is way lower than in Tokyo. As a matter of fact, avoid Tokyo like the plague. Visit, enjoy, have fun but do not live there or you'll drain your funds extremely fast - the place's a black hole.
Thanks for that. Yea I was thinking to just avoid Tokyo and try Osaka maybe but might be nearly as bad.

Have you traveled to the country before at least? I love visiting the region, but the lusters wears off for long term stays. Japan isn't the most friendly country to foreigners. I'm not talking about racism per se. They've just historically been one of the hardest countries to settle in as a foreigner.

There's a big reason why white collar professionals aren't as excited about the place compared to other countries.
I've been before about 10 years ago on a holiday, nothing I'd call real travel.

The bolded is something I can definitely understand, the work culture definitely leaves something to be desired.

I've worked and lived in Sydney for the last 8 years and the lifestyle is a far cry from the busy hectic-ness of London, and I know that Japan will be a a big change from what I have now. It'll be fascinating to me to just see how different their lifestyle is.

My mate is currently doing this. He did a lot of background planning before he went there, but he just went and did it.

Front my general conversations with him you should be looking at getting a local phone number, bank account, renting an apartment. He also mentioned getting some sort of personal stamp.

He hired an apartment in Tokyo, went there without a job. Took him a few months to get a job as a web designer for a big company. He can hardly speaky any Japanese. He said he almost ran out of money before he got the job.

I think ahead of the upcoming Olympics and other big sporting events, there might be more employment opportunities for English speakers.

Good luck.
Good to hear he found something in his field, and thanks for that info I'll look into that.

Appreciate all the replies in this thread.
 
Feb 10, 2010
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www.rajdhatt.com
#16
I lived there for over a year, going to this school for language study - www.yamasa.org/en/index.html

I also taught English and bartended part time. Mind you this was back in 2003-2005. It was a wonderful experience, I had a blast. Mind you, I did speak intermediate Japanese from 4 years of study before enrolling.

I will write up something later about my experience and any tips I have.
Awesome mate I'll check that out
 
Oct 23, 2012
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#17
I have been living here for the past three years. Speaking Japanese or at least making an attempt to seriously learn it opens many doors, is what I will say. Everything else is up to you.
 

ArchaeEnkidu

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Jan 30, 2018
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#18
Yep, don't live in Tokyo (or in the heart of any big city really). And if you really want access to a big city pick suburban Nagoya or Osaka ( someplace ~45 mins by train to city center) as a place to live.

Osaka and Nagoya are better anyways.
So much this. There are so many nicer places to live that are far more relaxing, beautiful, and easy going than the major cities. Plus with public transport, you can get into and out of the city pretty easy.
 
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Oct 23, 2012
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Nagoya.... One of the most dead boring cities I've visited in Japan. At least recommend Sapporo or Fukuoka or something.

Tokyo is kind of boring culturally, and so many baka gaikokujin, but if you have some Japanese skill it's a playground for making friends, sexy time and fun!
 
Nov 20, 2018
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#20
Ok, as I promised here are some things I have to say about my life there.

- Learn Japanese ASAP. Seriously the Japanese are horrible at English or any other language. If you wanna be a typical tourist all year long its fine of course, but you will uncover a whole new life if you can speak with so many types of Japanese. Not to mention your gate for the never before released media outside of Japan is open. You can dive into things that nobody in the Western world ever heard of, its funny how bad all the mainstream anime/manga stuff becomes once you discover better things.

- Avoid Summers in Japan as much as possible. They are BRUTAL, I could not stay outside for more than 5 min in July. Boiling hot, feels like suffocating and sweat non-stop. It was horrible, especially since I lived in Kansai region next to Osaka. HOkkaido is probably fine in Summer, but its boring there.

- Try to go to as many festivals as possible, they are one of the kind. They usually are all from March-August, so make sure to visit the Kyoto ones.

- Capsule hotels are super cheap, you can stay in one for like 1500 yen, which is like 15 bucks. They can also have hot springs, so really great value.

- Osaka and Tokyo are the most interesting places to be in as they have the largest variety of culture, sights, media, events. But Osaka is much more friendlier and warmer place compared to the cold-hearted Tokyo where nobody cares about you.

- Getting work outside of teaching English is hard. I think every foreigner I met there was a teacher of some kind haha. I think it was related to the strickt work visa that every foreigner had to get.

- No noise after 11 PM in areas outside the city, even if you are outside somehwere. So make sure not to have a drunken stroll after this hour as the locals complain a lot.

- Making friends with Japanese is hard if you dont know the language, and even if you do, they are pretty shy with foreigners.
 
Jul 14, 2018
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#21
Apply on the JET scheme to teach English. I had an interview for it once but never went. Required no experience except an online TEFL certificate.

Personally I think I'd be choose Korea over Japan for a year. Better money.
 

Cybrwzrd

Anime waifu panty shots are basically the same thing as paintings of the french baroque masters, if you think about it.
Sep 29, 2014
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#22
Ok, as I promised here are some things I have to say about my life there.

- Learn Japanese ASAP. Seriously the Japanese are horrible at English or any other language. If you wanna be a typical tourist all year long its fine of course, but you will uncover a whole new life if you can speak with so many types of Japanese. Not to mention your gate for the never before released media outside of Japan is open. You can dive into things that nobody in the Western world ever heard of, its funny how bad all the mainstream anime/manga stuff becomes once you discover better things.

- Avoid Summers in Japan as much as possible. They are BRUTAL, I could not stay outside for more than 5 min in July. Boiling hot, feels like suffocating and sweat non-stop. It was horrible, especially since I lived in Kansai region next to Osaka. HOkkaido is probably fine in Summer, but its boring there.

- Try to go to as many festivals as possible, they are one of the kind. They usually are all from March-August, so make sure to visit the Kyoto ones.

- Capsule hotels are super cheap, you can stay in one for like 1500 yen, which is like 15 bucks. They can also have hot springs, so really great value.

- Osaka and Tokyo are the most interesting places to be in as they have the largest variety of culture, sights, media, events. But Osaka is much more friendlier and warmer place compared to the cold-hearted Tokyo where nobody cares about you.

- Getting work outside of teaching English is hard. I think every foreigner I met there was a teacher of some kind haha. I think it was related to the strickt work visa that every foreigner had to get.

- No noise after 11 PM in areas outside the city, even if you are outside somehwere. So make sure not to have a drunken stroll after this hour as the locals complain a lot.

- Making friends with Japanese is hard if you dont know the language, and even if you do, they are pretty shy with foreigners.
I am going to agree with most of this.

If you want to go to Japan, you had better do your best to assimilate. Learn the language, respect their culture, don't act like an ass and don't expect them to tolerate your bullshit if you decide to go against the grain. Now I think this should be the case with any country you decide to live in long term though. As a tourist you are expected not to know things, but if you are making your life there for a term longer than a typical tourist would, your experience will be much better and it will open doors for you. They will forgive mistakes, but they appreciate the effort to fit in. You will never open every door, but the deeper you can get the better your overall experience can be.

Summers in Japan really aren't nearly as bad as he says though. You get used to the heat and humidity. Speaking of this though - Japanese deodorant sucks. Bring the good stuff from your home country.

Festivals are awesome, but again, you really need to speak at least basic Japanese and have Japanese friends to really enjoy them unless they are in touristy areas.

Gotta agree with the don't be loud outside past 11, but isn't this common sense in any residential area worldwide?

Garbage sorting is a thing in Japan, and it is a pain in the ass. And it can vary by city as to what needs to be sorted. And your neighbors will complain if you don't do it right.

Renting an apartment can be difficult. Mine was booked through my school, but I have heard horror stories.

There is no Uber outside of Tokyo. Taxis are expensive. If you are staying long term, you are going to need at minimum a bicycle.

Don;t be a picky eater. Try everything. There are so many regional specialties too. It is wonderful for foodies.
 
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Cybrwzrd

Anime waifu panty shots are basically the same thing as paintings of the french baroque masters, if you think about it.
Sep 29, 2014
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#24
Nagoya.... One of the most dead boring cities I've visited in Japan. At least recommend Sapporo or Fukuoka or something.

Tokyo is kind of boring culturally, and so many baka gaikokujin, but if you have some Japanese skill it's a playground for making friends, sexy time and fun!
You must not have known where to go or how to have fun in Nagoya then. I partied hard all night there many nights taking the first train home in early morning. The fun isn’t near Nagoya Station tho, cause yeah it is dead there at night. Sakae is where you need to be.
 
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Oct 17, 2012
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#25
Ok, as I promised here are some things I have to say about my life there.
Not to mention your gate for the never before released media outside of Japan is open. You can dive into things that nobody in the Western world ever heard of, its funny how bad all the mainstream anime/manga stuff becomes once you discover better things.
Is this still a thing nowadays with the internet and all?
 
Oct 23, 2012
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#27
You must not have known where to go or how to have fun in Nagoya then. I partied hard all night there many nights taking the first train home in early morning. The fun isn’t near Nagoya Station tho, cause yeah it is dead there at night. Sakae is where you need to be.
I stayed in Sakae. Yeah, it's fun in some ways but nothing special. I would never want to live in Nagoya.
 
Feb 10, 2010
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#28
Ok, as I promised here are some things I have to say about my life there...
Dude really awesome.

- Getting work outside of teaching English is hard. I think every foreigner I met there was a teacher of some kind haha. I think it was related to the strickt work visa that every foreigner had to get.
Yea looks this way, I'm only getting a 1 year working holiday so imagining I'm going to find short term teaching or something of that nature... I will get a TEFL just in case, have plenty of time (kinda...)

I am going to agree with most of this.

If you want to go to Japan, you had better do your best to assimilate. Learn the language, respect their culture, don't act like an ass and don't expect them to tolerate your bullshit if you decide to go against the grain. Now I think this should be the case with any country you decide to live in long term though. As a tourist you are expected not to know things, but if you are making your life there for a term longer than a typical tourist would, your experience will be much better and it will open doors for you. They will forgive mistakes, but they appreciate the effort to fit in. You will never open every door, but the deeper you can get the better your overall experience can be....
Totally understand this. I'm not looking to make this a long term (beyond 2 years max) thing as I know I'll never truly make a life there and fit in. It's just the way it is with such a different culture and language, Also after being in Australia for 8 years I'm looking forward to going back home to the UK for something permanent feeling. Japan just feels like something I have to do before I never can, since working holidays can't be given after 31.

...There is no Uber outside of Tokyo. Taxis are expensive. If you are staying long term, you are going to need at minimum a bicycle.
Good tip. On that note, are these things relatively cheap there? All I see on TV are those old school looking things with baskets lol. If there's a healthy 2nd hand car market maybe a cheapo thing is worth it, similar to how backpackers here buy crap and then shift it on.

Don;t be a picky eater. Try everything. There are so many regional specialties too. It is wonderful for foodies.
Ah mate from what I've tried I love and I'm actually looking forward to this the most! Having being in Australia you try some some outlandish things so I'm looking forward to it.

Again thanks for the advice guys.
 

Cybrwzrd

Anime waifu panty shots are basically the same thing as paintings of the french baroque masters, if you think about it.
Sep 29, 2014
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#31
On that note, are these things relatively cheap there? All I see on TV are those old school looking things with baskets lol. If there's a healthy 2nd hand car market maybe a cheapo thing is worth it, similar to how backpackers here buy crap and then shift it on.
Mama Chariots are pretty cheap. You know, the bikes with baskets. Frankly, that is what most people in Japan have as a bike, because it is useful for running errands with. I wouldn't get anything more fancy.

Used cars... I mean there is a market. Driving in Japan in a pain in the ass, parking is limited and then there is the "shaken" - car inspection... This makes driving used cars expensive, especially if they are old. If you did get a car, I'd recommend going cheap with a little "kei" car - which is basically a car with a motorcycle 660cc engine.
 
Oct 31, 2012
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On a working holiday visa, yes, otherwise not officially. I guess people renew their tourist visas by travelling to Korea every three months? Maybe living in a sharehouse or something.
Interesting, that sounds like a lean solution. Another poster mentioned that live in japan is expensive, I make around 700$ per day as a freelancer, is this enough to get around there?
 
Feb 13, 2012
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#33
Interesting, that sounds like a lean solution. Another poster mentioned that live in japan is expensive, I make around 700$ per day as a freelancer, is this enough to get around there?
Japan ain't expensive. My rent is like 250 dollars a month, food costs are about the same, utilities don't seem particularly expensive.
If you want to live in an American sized house in the middle of Tokyo then yeah, good luck. But that isn't exactly a realistic portrayal of living in Japan.
edit: Also you must be joking. 700 dollars a day? I don't think there is a single city in the world where 700 dollars a day for a guy living by himself wouldn't be enough to 'get around'.
 
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ArchaeEnkidu

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#34
Japan ain't expensive. My rent is like 250 dollars a month, food costs are about the same, utilities don't seem particularly expensive.
If you want to live in an American sized house in the middle of Tokyo then yeah, good luck. But that isn't exactly a realistic portrayal of living in Japan.
Cousin and BFF live in a rural area of Hokkaido. They have a house that is pretty decently sized for American standards (3 bed, 2 bath with an office) and pay reasonably. The only time it gets expensive is if you want to live in the middle of one of the major cities, which would be expected anywhere in the world.