Many people are scared to go on a working holiday and have no idea what is in store for them. Along with the language, there’s a few things need to think about before and after starting their working holiday in Japan. Experiencing living in Tokyo, there is a lot of things I wish I had prepared for when I came here. I regret a lot but I am also glad that I did the working holiday when I did and I do hope to come back to Japan and live here another time. Before I go to Korea soon, I would like to recommend this post mostly for people not wanting to do English teaching and did not come with a company.
- Should I visit the country before deciding? Yes and no. I don’t like surprises so being there twice and knowing what the culture was like, how the people reacted to me and what the country actually looks like other than looking at others pictures was better. If you like to be surprised before travelling there, do so if you want to.
- Which city is best to live in? It is up to you. I went to Tokyo because the company I went with provided accommodation and I had no idea about other sharedhouse or hostels at the time. If I do get a working visa in the future, I’d like to live in Osaka, Kyoto or Fukuoka for a nice change. So it is up to you to choose where you would like to stay.
- Do I need to learn Japanese before I come? No but I think you should. There are many people who get by with little to no Japanese living here for years but most stick to their communities. If you really want to come to travel, work and potentially live after experiencing what it’s like here then learn Japanese – at least to conversational level if you don’t work a company job.
- How much do I need to save? I would say to save at least £2000 minimum (convert to your own currency) in addition to requirements to get the visa. Visa in the UK is around £40, you can pay by cash or card. I say around £2000 because it depends on the flight and when you go in addition to where you are staying and what I like to call survival money for the first three months (transportation, food, essentials).
- What should I prepare before going there? I do think it’s best to have interviews before you get there. I would say start looking a couple of weeks before you arrive and make sure you have both your Japanese and English CV ready. If you need a template for a Japanese CV, I can let you use mine if you comment and I’ll email it to you.
- Can I do both holiday and work? Yes and no. If you had more than £2000 and you’ve got enough to travel around and explore, go ahead. But that minimum amount of money is not enough to go travelling the entire time. My recommendation is to work part time if you want to go on holiday more later. Save up a lot while working here then travel in your last three months.
- When should I go? I really think January/Feburary is the best time as most of the good full time jobs start hiring for March/April which is when their usual business/school time is. If not, try August for jobs advertised for September/October jobs. This is mostly for company jobs but come whenever if you don’t mind working part time.
- Am I able to save money while working in Japan? If you are in Japan for a short time (maximum 6 months) it’s possible. A full year or more? It depends on your plans. I managed to have enough for food (especially takeout), rent, a weekend trip to Osaka, Korea and credit card payments. On top of that, I still had a bit of money to go shopping and get nice clothes. Just be smart about your money.
- Do I need work experience? Again it depends on what you want. Company jobs will want to know if you have taken the JLPT test and what level you took. It really depends on part time jobs depending on your level of Japanese.
- Can I get a job with little to no Japanese? Yes. Although these jobs are usually part time jobs e.g. Cafes, restaurants, factory work
- What kind of job can I get depending on my JLPT level? I wrote a post about this just in case you’re curious.
- What can I do at an N4/N3 level? Some major things such as purchasing contacts, booking a ticket for a short trip, gym membership, buying medicine and donating clothes. I might write a post about this soon.
- Where is the cheapest place to stay in Tokyo? Shared houses and hostels. I’ve included a list of places to stay below and not to stay in Tokyo (see World Unite!). You may also want to check out the sites and places that I asked friends where they stayed around Japan.
- Can my Japanese improve while working? Yes if you try your best to listen and study what you’ve learnt. What I started doing was everyday I learnt a word or sentence, I put it in my iPod and then wrote it down later with the meaning. Your listening skills will improve steadily when you are around Japanese people more and will have no choice but to reply in Japanese.
- How much discount can I get working at shop? Depends, working at CoCo Ichibanya I didn’t have to pay for the rice and spice level but you had to pay for the toppings. So I have no clue about fashion retail or other shops unfortunately.
- Can I travel to other countries? I have never tried this but it is possible. Apparently when you get to immigration, they will ask you whether you will come back to Japan or not. Regardless of your decision, please check here.
If you have any questions, just comment below. The sites for job hunting and accommodation recommendations are below.
Job hunting sites:
- Hatago Tenjin (Fukuoka)
- Hiroshima Santiago Guest House (Hiroshima)
- Gojo Guesthouse [Kiyomizu Dera](Kyoto)