Working in Japan sounds like a dream come true for some of us. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. And I can tell you that it’s definitely an experience to remember! Japan has such a rich culture that affects every aspect of life here, which includes the work environment. There are just some things about the Japanese working culture that you can’t experience anywhere else in the world!
While there’s always pros and cons to everything, we’re going to focus on the pros here. In this article, there’s a list of 7 things why you should work in Japan!
We actually have a whole season dedicated to the theme of “Working in Japan” in our podcast series, Season 6, so if you’re interested to know more about working life in Japan, check that out!
1. Job Security
The first reason you should work in Japan is job security. For full-time workers, once you get offered the job, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a long-term contract. It’s quite difficult for companies to fire employees without a clear reason.
Plus, Japanese companies look to hire employees who will be able to work for them long-term. In fact, they will go to extreme lengths to not let go of their employees. Instead of cutting people off, companies here are known to shift employees around into different positions, implement hiring freezes or other similar ways to cut costs.
So don’t worry about getting sacked a few weeks into the job. You’re pretty much good for a few years.
2. Health Insurance
Depending on the country you come from, you might not have healthcare covered. That doesn’t happen in Japan, which is another plus point when you work in Japan.
A lot of Japanese companies provide health insurance with your working contract. However, the amount covered by your insurance plan can vary. It depends on the type of policy your company provides. Some companies offer an insurance plan where you basically get check ups for free! The most common type of plan involves you paying your consultation for a very low price. You don’t have to worry about paying $300 on just a five minute consultation.
On top of that, Japanese companies often provide annual health checks for free. While you might have to endure being poked and prodded for a few hours, these regular checkups are pretty essential at catching diseases at early stages.
One of the best things about working in Japan is that you don’t have to pay a single penny commuting to work. The company covers that as well! In Japan, it’s normal to commute almost an hour or more to work. Sometimes, that can rack up quite a bit of cost, especially if you’re taking a few different lines on the train.
An average commuting expense costs about ¥20,000 a month, but sometimes even more. You don’t have to worry about setting aside the sum of money from your paycheck, because your Japanese company will add that into your payslip, on top of your monthly salary!The best part is that this applies to both part-time and full-time positions.
You have the option to get a teikiken (定期券), which is a commuter pass. It’s a set price for a route from point A to point B for a month, but even if you alight anywhere in between, you still won’t get charged. Oftentimes you save between ¥5,000 to ¥9,000 a month!
Oh boy, don’t we all hate taxes and doin them. Unless your job is an accountant, this can be quite a chore. In Japan, there are various types of taxes as well. It can all get quite confusing, too. But when you’re working in Japan, your company takes care of your taxes for you! Isn’t that a good enough reason to work in Japan?
Companies would spread the tax payments over the course of the year. This not only saves you time by not doing the paperwork yourself, but you’re also budgeting your finances better. You won’t have to pay a lump sum in April to cover tax charges.
5. Customer Service Skill
Japan’s level of customer service is top notch. That’s all thank to the “omotenashi” (おもてなし) culture, which translates to the Japanese hospitality. When you work in Japan, you’ll be put through a ton of training and practice of the traditional style of service. And that’s not a bad thing. There’s a thing about Japanese hospitality that we can all learn from.
You’ll be able to notice what’s wrong without having to ask, not disagreeing directly while still standing your ground, and make your clients feel comfortable. I believe those things are the positive things you can take away from the omoteshi culture while working in Japan!
6. Clean and safe environment
As we briefly mentioned before, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. You wouldn’t have to worry about going home alone after dark or being followed. While these are situations that could happen in the country, Japan is one of the countries with the very low crime rates!
On top of that, it’s also extremely clean! You wouldn’t know how much an unclean environment affects your day-to-day mood until you’re in one that’s sparkling. Even though it’s hard to find a bin on the streets, you’ll be surprised how little litter you see on the floor!
Last but not least, another reason why you should work in Japan is the opportunity the country has to offer to foreign workers. Most positions are well-paid with perks and benefits. You have your visa settled for a few years. Sometimes, your accommodation is provided by the company you work for as well.
Not to mention that when you commit to a Japanese company for a long time, it really bumps up your resume. You’re going to acquire so many various skills that will be able to make you stand out from the crowd of people in your industry.
Let’s work in Japan!
Are those reasons not good enough for you to job hunt for a position in Japan? Well, check out Season 6 of our podcast series! We discuss various aspects of working in Japan – the good, the bad and the in between. Head over there for more exclusive content! And happy job hunting!
Japan is a country rich in culture and history. There’s no denying that. The Japanese people pride themselves in their cultural heritage. Everything from food and clothing to customs and manners, there’s a seamless blend of old and new in Japan’s culture.
A lot of Japanese cultural aspects are worlds apart for most of us. Whether you’re planning to just travel to Japan or settling down here, you might be curious about some Japanese culture facts before your trip. Here are 8 Japanese culture facts you have to know!
1. Bowing is the Japanese way of handshake
For most Western countries, the handshake is the most common way to greet someone. Regardless of whether or not you are close to the person, a handshake is the most ideal. In Japan, however, the handshake is replaced with a bow. Bowing is basically the Japanese way of greeting.
There are various types of bow and with various customs attached to them. It can range from a slight nod to a full 90º bow. It depends on the situation what kind of bow to use. Arms are usually at the side of the body, but sometimes you can bow with your hands behind your back or on your chest.
When in doubt, a standard 45º bow with hands by your side is a safe bet.
2. Baseball is very popular
Just like how football is extremely popular in America and soccer is popular in the UK, Japan has baseball. Baseball is the most popular sport in Japan, even though sumo is the country’s national sport. While sumo is the sport people often associate the country with, baseball is the sport most locals watch and play.
Introduced during the Meiji Period and became popular after World War II, Japan has two professional baseball leagues. Because it’s popular among school students, there are dozens of high school and university teams, too. Just like how American fans are with football matches and British fans at soccer matches, Japanese fans go crazy with chants and singing during baseball games.
3. Drinking and eating while walking is rude
This next one is something I’m guilty of doing all the time. It’s pretty common to see someone munching on a bag of chips or sipping coffee on the way to work in a lot of country’s. In Japan, drinking and eating while walking around is rude. When buying food or beverage at a convenience store, you’ll see people standing outside the store and finishing their purchase before walking away.
Nowadays, it’s becoming less rude as compared to the olden days, but it’s still considered low-class behaviour and looked down upon. Some also think that it’s because eating and drinking while walking can make the streets dirty. Whatever the reason is, let’s avoid doing this as much as we can when in Japan.
4. Omiyage aren’t just souvenirs
When we start learning Japanese, we learn the word “omigaye” (お土産). It usually translates to “souvenir”. The word actually has more meaning to it. It’s not like what we would refer to as souvenirs, like magnets and keychains. Omiyage refers to gifts you bring back for family, friends and co-workers after a trip, usually specialty food from various regions.
Omiyage is often expected in Japanese culture. It’s not like Western countries where it’s more of a special gesture. It’s best to get ones in boxes with each item individually wrapped. This makes it easier to share with a big group of people.
5. No tipping culture
Some countries require tipping in restaurants and cafes. It can be hard to adjust when in another country. In Japan, you don’t have to adjust too much, because tipping is not part of the culture here. If you were to leave extra change at the register, chances are you’ll have someone call you back because they thought you forgot your change.
6. No slamming taxi doors
When you’re in Japan, remember not to slam the taxi doors here. That’s because the taxis here are all automatic. You don’t even have to touch the door handle to get in or get out of the taxi. The driver will open and close the door for you.
Because Japanese taxi drivers are used to that, they’re not used to having the doors slammed. So keep in mind not to do that. It might give them a tiny scare from the sound of the slam!
7. Chopstick etiquette is crucial
If you’d been to Japan before, you would know that the most common utensil served at restaurants is the chopstick. You rarely see a fork in sight. Chopsticks are no casual matter in Japan. You’ve got to respect the chopstick etiquette.
There’s actually a long list of things you can and cannot do with chopsticks in Japanese culture. One of the biggest no-no’s is to stick them upright in rice. This image is associated with funeral traditions.
It’s also inappropriate to pass food from one pair of chopsticks to another. The reason behind this is for hygiene purposes.
8. Business cards are an extension of yourself
If you’re in Japan for business, bring a lot of business cards. In Japanese, this is known as ‘meishi’ (名詞). A business card is considered as an extension of oneself. Because of that, you ought to handle them with care. For both receiving and giving, be sure to do them with both hands.
When you receive a business card, be sure to read it carefully and place it in front of you until the meeting or encounter ends. Do not shove it in your bag or back pocket of your trousers. This is considered extremely rude. Put it away in your wallet or a file. Similarly, when you give your business card to another person, they would treat it with utmost care.
Which is the most important Japanese culture fact?
There are dozens, if not hundreds, more of Japanese culture facts. But these 8 are important for you to know, especially before going to Japan. Which one of these are the most important in your opinion?
Do you want to work in Japan? Have you landed a job position yet? Thousands of people dream about working in the country of their dreams and living their best life in Japan, but the Japanese work life can be quite a working culture shock for some.
Whether or not you‘ve secured a job in Japanyet, it’s best to get a few tips on how to navigate the Japanese working culture and come out of it successfully. Here are 9 tips for success when beginning to work in Japan!
1. (Try to) Learn Japanese
It’s not uncommon to get a job in Japan that doesn’t require Japanese. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn the language at all. Even if you’re not allowed to use Japanese at work, it shouldn’t hinder your learning process.
When you can communicate in Japanese, even at a basic level, you open so many more doors of opportunity for yourself. It can definitely help you grow and move up in the country. You can choose to go to after-work Japanese classes or self-learn, but definitely practice consistently. Making Japanese friends definitely will help.
2. Accept criticism
In Japanese work culture, criticism is often part and parcel of the job. Expect it every other day, if not every day. When you do receive criticism, don’t be defensive. Accept it and thank them for the feedback.
If you start telling others that they’re wrong, you aren’t helping anyone, especially yourself. You’re actually making it worse by losing the respect of others. Japan’s work culture is where criticism is given more than praise, so be sure you’re prepared for them.
3. Don’t question or answer back to superiors
The hierarchy at work is pretty strict in Japan. Remember who are your superiors and who are your subordinates. When your superiors tell you off for doing something wrong, don’t answer back or question them. Simply accept and move on.
This hierarchical structure applies even for locals and not just foreigners. You can only start giving orders around when you yourself become a superior, how ever long that may take.
4. Work overtime
In Japan, expect to work more hours than you signed up for. It’s common in companies to work past the time you’re supposed to leave. Overtime is kind of required even though it doesn’t say in the contract.
Most of the time, overtime is usually paid. However, if it’s not, suck it up. If you start making a fuss about not working overtime without pay, you might get a bad reputation in the company. An extra thirty minutes is a small price to pay to be on the good side of the higher ups.
5. Wait a few years before rocking the boat
In Japanese companies, the longer you are in the company, the more respected you are. If you just entered the company, wait a few more years before pitching your brilliant new ideas. You might be ostracised and get backlash. Others might think you’re trying to change the place when you are just a newbie.
In Japan, unless you have authority to carry these new ideas, they aren’t as valuable as you might think. It’s harsh, but it’s the truth for some companies.
6. Don’t make excuses
This next point is linked to point number 2. When you are given criticism or someone has misunderstood something about you or your work, don’t make excuses. Simply accept it and apologise. If you apologise by saying “moushi wake gozaimasen” (申し訳ございません), this literally means “there is no excuse”. It’s better to apologise without actually admitting fault than to come up with excuses in Japanese work culture. And also let them know that it won’t happen again, and make sure it doesn’t!
7. Dress the part
The work attire in Japan is quite uniform for most companies. Salarymen often wear a suit and tie in cooler seasons, and a smart casual version called “Cool Biz” in the summer. This is when it’s acceptable to wear short-sleeved shirts with no ties to beat the summer heat.
Women are sometimes expected to wear work heels, but some companies are taking this rule out of their attire rules. Makeup is often kept at minimum and basic, and this also includes hair colour and hairstyle.
This work attire also depends on the industry you’re in. If you’re in the creative industry, you can get away with quite a bit more. Check with your coworkers first if you’re unsure about the dress code for your company. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
8. Be punctual
There’s a saying that goes “time is money”. It’s quite applicable in Japan. Japanese people are known to be punctual or early when it comes to timing. Whether it’s a formal meeting or a casual meet up with friends, timing is quite important to the Japanese people.
When you’re on time, you’re considered late. Always try to be at least five minutes early to avoid this. Even though you can call in advance to inform them you’re going to be late, Japanese people will apologise profusely when they are late to an appointment.
In a work setting, if you’re late to a meeting, it leaves a bad impression on you. It’s not the most ideal, especially if you’re the one presenting. Definitely come prepared and come on-time, if not early.
9. Be a team player
Last but not least, always be a team player when in a Japanese company. In Japanese work culture, teamwork is more important than individualism. If you take credit for yourself only, you wouldn’t have the best reputation at work. As they say, there’s no “I” in “team”.
There’s also this Japanese national characteristic known as “omotenashi”, which is the Japanese hospitality of politeness and care for others. Be sharp of your coworkers’ feelings and tasks. Offer to help out if they need a hand while still keeping your boundaries. Sometimes, some people want to do all the work themselves, so you wouldn’t want to annoy them with that.
Start planning your career in Japan!
The Japanese working culture can be quite a difficult one to decode, but if you’re alert and motivated to improve, you’ll definitely get the hang of the Japanese work environment. You have these 9 tips to get you started with succeeding in work in Japan – get on working that job position or promotion!
Some of us dream of working in Japan. It’s like an unachievable fantasy. What if I told you that working in Japan is not that far-fetched of a dream at all? In fact, it’s totally possible! There are more and more job openings for foreigners in Japan as we speak. Some of these jobs won’t even require you to have fluent Japanese!
Of course, if you do have a higher level of Japanese, you have more job opportunities. But don’t let that bring your hopes down. You still have options. Let’s take a look at the top 19 most popular jobs for foreigners working in Japan.
1. English Teacher
The easiest job to land in Japan for a foreigner is teaching. More specifically, teaching English. I think most of the foreigners I’ve met in Japan have been there, done that – including me. There are so many positions available throughout the country, and job postings pop up all year round.
For this job position, you don’t need to know Japanese at all. Because you’re teaching English, your lessons are going to be fully in English. All you need is to have at least a bachelor’s degree. It would definitely help if you know a bit of Japanese, as well as prior teaching experience, but it’s not a requirement.
The downside to this is that it’s not the best-paying job. But hey, you’ll get a working visa and live in the country of your dreams.
If you’re bilingual, you’ll find that it’s easy to get a translation job in Japan, especially if one of the languages you speak is Japanese. There’s a huge demand in the interpretation and translation industry. The gaming industry in Japan is huge, as we all know from our hours of playing video games and watching animation. Game companies require their works to be translated into other languages when they release it internationally.
While there’s opportunities for full-time employment, you can also find part-time positions and contract work. This can include assisting businessmen when they travel for work and also translating written works.
3. IT Professional
After English-teaching, the IT professional job is the most common job in Japan. Positions like software developers and programmers are always in demand. The talent pool among Japanese locals for programmers is rather small. Companies are looking to international talents to fill these roles.
You can most definitely find positions that require minimal to zero Japanese language ability. However, your options are multiplied when you can speak a bit of Japanese.
4. Military Personnel
If you’re American, you’re in luck. One of the most common ways to work in Japan is to be stationed at one of the US military bases in the country. Japan has the largest number of military personnel based here than in any other foreign country. Cities that have large bases like Okinawa have a large international population. Because of that, the area might be more English-friendly than other parts of the country.
Engineering is significant in Japan, and engineer job positions are as common as IT professional job positions. Japan is known for its advanced engineering, from automobile to computer. If you’re skilled in any aspect of engineering, your chances of landing a job as an engineer in Japan is high.
Japanese companies are looking to foreign talent for their expansion of their engineering industry. A lot of these job positions require no Japanese. In fact, you’ll be dealing with more foreign clients than local ones most of the time.
6. Tourism Roles
The boom in tourism in Japan calls for demand in tourism related roles. It’s increasing so rapidly that the locals can’t keep up with it. Travel agencies and tourism-related businesses need foreigners to fill in some roles, especially when those roles involve dealing with non-Japanese clients. A common job is a tour guide.
For these kinds of roles, you’d be required to know at least conversational Japanese so you can communicate fairly well with your company and clients. How much you can earn depends on your skills and experience, too. But the best part about tourism related roles is that you get to travel while on the job!
7. Investment Banking
Large investment banking companies are relocating their workers and also hiring foreign workers. Japan is an ideal place for these banks to locate. Because of this progression, you wouldn’t need Japanese language skills for this job. The banking industry also supports other jobs like IT professionals, too.
8. Service Staff
An easy job to land if you have adequate Japanese language skills is service staff. If you’re on a Working Holiday visa or other valid visa like a spousal visa, this is an ideal opportunity. Look at the tourism industry – for example, hotels, resorts and restaurants in tourist destinations are more willing to hire foreign staff since bilinguality can be an asset to their business.
9. Sales staff
Similar to service staff, the sales staff job is also an easy job to land if you’re bilingual with Japanese. However, it’s not limited to that. Some local companies are trying to reach the international market, especially those in the automobile and banking industries. Because of that, they are opening up positions for foreign workers to assist in that reach.
You might not think this is a possible job for most of the world, but in Japan, it’s rather easy. Modelling is more often taken as a part time or freelance job because of its instability, but it’s a job that’s extremely common and popular. Japanese companies are using non-Japanese models more and more to promote their business, so it’s in high demand right now.
The pay depends on the job, and it also depends on the frequency of jobs you get a month. Modelling agencies might provide you with a valid working visa if you’re working as a model full-time. Tokyo, especially, has a lot of modelling agencies that are foreigner-friendly.
Which job is for you?
As you can see, there’s quite a range of job opportunities in Japan for foreigners. Everything from technical to artistic, there’s a position for you. You can browse your opportunities on job-hunting websites like Gaijinpot and Jobs in Japan, but a simple Google search does the trick, too. So what are you waiting for – get searching and applying!
Working is a chore. Working in a foreign country like Japan sounds exciting. I bet every foreigner who’s ever worked in Japan thought that at first. What they’re thinking now is slightly different…
There’s a fantasy of working life in Japan, and it’s quite the opposite of the reality. I’m not trying to scare you away from finding a job here. But it’s best to know a few things before you commit a few years to a new job in a foreign country.
In this article, we’re going to look at 3 fantasies in comparison with their realities.
Fantasy: After-work fun
Who doesn’t like a couple of drinks after work? A normal job takes up five days a week, leaving weekends and weekday evenings for leisure. You’ve got to make the most of your free time out of work. Especially if you’re thinking about working in a city like Tokyo, you might be expecting a couple of pints of beer after a long day of hard work.
There is some truth in that. Going for rounds of drinks with colleagues is actually part of the work culture here. It’s a way to bond with your coworkers. When you build stronger relationships, Japanese people believe that the workflow will be more effective.
If your boss joins you at the after-work drinking as well, that’s when it gets even more fun. That means that the boss will pay. Free drinks for all!
Reality: Overtime work
Realistically, you’re not going to be able to drink every night. In fact, you might not even be able to do much at night, other than sleeping. The harsh reality is that Japan has a very tough working culture. Everyone basically works overtime. Staying overtime is sometimes required, even though it’s not stated in any contract or written document. It’s an unspoken rule. You’d have to ‘read the air’ to find out.
Depending on your company, you might not even get paid for the overtime hours (so check before signing any contracts).
In Japanese work etiquette, you don’t leave before the boss. If the boss decides to stay till 10PM, everyone else is expected to stay till 10:30PM. That’s just how it is. Let’s hope your boss doesn’t like overtime as much!
However, I’ve heard from some friends who are not required to work overtime and it’s fine with their company. So it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
If you’ve seen or heard about Japan, you might’ve heard about their crazy fashion and perspective. Tokyo’s Harajuku neighbourhood is an outlet for the locals to express themselves and their ideas any way they like. No judgement whatsoever.
And from my own experience, this expressiveness and individualism can go beyond the neighbourhood. You see locals going out of the box in other cities, too. Many people travel to Japan to witness this unique culture for themselves. Some want the opportunity to spread their wings as well.
To be honest, it was one of my reasons for going to Japan, too. I needed to stretch my legs a bit. I wanted to explore my individuality.
While you can definitely explore it during your free time, it’s not at all like that at work. The work life in Japan, and generally the cultural norm, is uniformity. When it comes to dressing, you have to look like everyone else. The dress code has to be followed.
And it doesn’t just stop at appearance. It includes other aspects of work life. There are ways of doing things in terms of how you speak, act and react in the office. The work etiquette has a set of rules in its system, and it has to be abided by.
My personal experience with working for a Japanese company wasn’t at all like that, though. I had a bit more freedom when it comes to what I wear and how I speak. At the end of the day, it really depends on how traditional or modern the company you’re with is.
Fantasy: Culture enriching
Moving to a new country is exciting. You’re going to be in a different environment. Everything is new. You’re going to be immersed in a foreign culture. It’s going to be like one long vacation.
On my days off where I go on day trips and sightseeing spots, the culturally enriching factor kicks in. There’s always something new to discover about Japan and its culture. One part of the country can have various cultural facts compared to another. Take Osaka and Tokyo, for example. The two are so similar, yet dramatically different in so many ways.
Reality: Culture shock
After the holiday mood fades away, you’ll soon realise that everyday life involves stress and mundane routines. Even in a different country, you can’t avoid that. When you work in Japan, you’ll also discover aspects about the Japanese working culture – both good and bad.
While in some countries, you don’t have to keep up with formalities in the office. When you work in Japan, they’re very strict on that. It also comes hand in hand with hierarchy. Yup, there’s work hierarchy culture here.
And it doesn’t mean age. Someone five years younger than you can have a higher status. Someone who enters the company later than you can be your boss. Regardless, you’ll have to speak to them like how you would an elderly: with respect and keigo (敬語).
Working Life in Japan
Expect big changes when you move your life to Japan, especially if you’re planning to work here. Even with these three comparisons, working life in Japan is not all bad. There are perks and advantages. And not all companies are going to be the same. At the end of the day, you’re going to experience things you’ll never be able to back in your own country. So take a leap of faith and start applying!
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