Getting back to Japan
December 21, 2005 1:49 PM   Subscribe

How do I find a non-teaching job in Japan?

Specifically in Tokyo/Chiba/Yokohama.

I've lived in Japan before, as an undergraduate. I did a study abroad program, and taught English in a junior high as well. All told, I spent a bit more than a year there, and I want to go back.

Ideally, I'd like to study Japanese at a university there for a few years, but the financial factors are incredibly limiting and my parents are very opposed to me taking out massive loans to finance more education.

So I'd like to go back in some capacity, and work--but not teach. I enjoyed it when I did it, but I'd just assume have a real job. I will have two undergraduate degrees at the end of the year, one in News-Editorial and the other in International Studies.

The question is, how do I find a job that isn't teaching English? Do I just have to be lucky and know someone? Do I just have to stumble upon it? It seems nearly impossible, and I've been poking around for a while. Whenever I hear about someone who has a real job there, it seems like it's in an IT field. Am I screwed because my degrees have nothing to do with computers? Despite all the networking I've done I've come up empty handed.

Any advice?
posted by dead_ to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
i am trying to move to japan as well. i haven't come up with much, but:

the japanese government does have programs, particularily graduate scholarships, for foreigners. there are also industrial placement programs. i have yet to see a central overview of all of the programs, some of which seem to be quite obscure and almost none of it is written up in english.

there are various "work in japan" web sites that have job postings, but as you point out nearly all of the positions are teaching english or IT related.

there is also wwoof japan which can be rather appealing, depending on your point of view. they can help you get a work visa, but most of their placements only offer room and board as compensation.

nearly all opportunities, either academic or industrial, that i have seen all require at least basic japanese proficiency, if not fluency.

good luck. i'll race ya.
posted by paradroid at 2:41 PM on December 21, 2005

Having found this out the slow way: use your university's alumni association for all that it's worth! They will often have databases (web searchable or by going to their office) where you can find out about alumni working in Japan or from Japan, and/or alumni working in MNCs or government positions that would connect them to such possibilities. They may also have a branch club in Japan, and by getting a hold of them you could float your resume and interests around that way.
posted by whatzit at 2:47 PM on December 21, 2005

Oak Associates is one of several companies that do recruiting. There are good reasons why Japanese companies are reluctant to hire foreigners sight unseen. My hide is covered with burns from furyou gaijin doing the visa bait and switch.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:40 PM on December 21, 2005

Up With People's new Global Education Program includes a 6 week tour of Japan. In the program, there are opportunities for internships and community service, and you'll generally be busy anyhow. (besides Japan, you also tour the US and Europe)

You can apply now as a student (fees: US$11800) or you can wait till April and visit the website for job opportunities. You can be road staff, which means you travel with the students but work for the organization (external relations, operations, applied education, community impact, creative productions). There's also field staff positions, where you work in a certain city and organize the activities there - so you could perhaps apply for a position as field staff in Japan if it's available.

Good luck!
posted by divabat at 7:34 PM on December 21, 2005

You may not need to work if you can get the AIEJ fellowship. I know that the undergraduate version is quite generous and covers commuting as well as a stipend for living expenses. You could use that to get by while you build up business contacts. Companies are always looking for business translators.
posted by Alison at 8:32 PM on December 21, 2005

Americans have a tough time finding a visa for Japan. Most people I know right out of school started teaching for a year or three, built a network in Japan and then moved into something else. It's a shame that Japan and the US can't have a better visa sharing program. There are so many Aussies (and others) in Japan due to their much more liberal visa sharing policies.

I would take a critical look at your skillset, retool your resume, and attend the Boston Career Forum event. It's your best be to getting a "real job" in Japan from the US.

Feel free to drop me emails if you need additional advice. I haven't been in Japan for too long but I'm happy to help where I can.
posted by gen at 9:13 PM on December 21, 2005

It looks like the next Career Forum event is in NYC in Feb. 2006.
posted by gen at 9:17 PM on December 21, 2005

International companies, particularly those based in English speaking countries tend to hire english speaking non-japanese employees for their Japan offices. Also, there are a handful of gaijin broadsheets/tabloids/papers that are published in English in Japan. You could work for them.

Though, as paradroid mentions most do expect some level of fluency/competency in Japanese.

Also, I think you mean "I'd just as soon have a real job."
posted by shoepal at 9:26 PM on December 21, 2005

A friend of mine performs weddings on the southern island. Turns out there's a huge demand for western-style weddings there. His credentials were essentially "balding white guy", so it's not like you have to be a man of the cloth. Works weekends, only, and loves it. That reminds me, I'd better email the guy. :)
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:06 PM on December 21, 2005

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