Job search in Tokyo
January 30, 2008 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend where to find a job in Tokyo?

I'm asking this on behalf of a friend. She hopes to move to Tokyo in April, with her boyfriend. He will be studying at Tokyo University for at least 8 months, she needs to have job before leaving.

She holds a masters degree in nutrition science, but any job will do. She applied for various office jobs, bar work, and teaching English (non native, advanced). It turns out that finding a job from the Netherlands is almost impossible. Job offers on the big expat websites require a working visa and have far too many applicants.

We're looking from some help inside. Can you recommend agencies or places to work? Is is possible to get a job without having a work visa before applying?
posted by Psychnic to Work & Money (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Her knowledge of Japanese is lacking... But she'll learn the basics
posted by Psychnic at 2:48 AM on January 30, 2008

I found a job in Tokyo from the United States without having a visa. I work for a large Japanese manufacturer doing mobile phone product planning and development. However, I had the following in my favor:

1) I spoke fluent Japanese before I came
2) I went to a career fair in the US for J-E bilinguals, where I interviewed with the company
3) The process took, from first interview to coming to Japan, 10 months

Her best bet is to try to find an English teaching job with AEON, GEOS, or one of the other eikaiwa firms, but I can't vouch for current working conditions. Since the country's biggest eikaiwa firm, NOVA, went belly-up last year, there has been a surplus of teachers on the market, so they may not be interested in hiring her -- especially since she's not a native speaker.

Long story short, she is going to have a hell of a time finding a job without knowing Japanese *and* being in Japan, at the very least. I submitted resumes to dozens of firms, but most of them were uninterested in me unless I was in Japan and had a valid visa because that saves them lots of money and time.

She might want to considering attending a Japanese language school in Tokyo, and then working a part-time job or two on the side. She probably won't break even on living expenses if she does that, though.

That's the view on the ground here. She might have a better time of it if she stayed in the Netherlands and visited him once or twice, like I did when my girlfriend went to Japan to study for a year.
posted by armage at 3:03 AM on January 30, 2008

looks like 無理 is going to be the first addition to her vocabulary unless they get married and she goes on a spouse visa, but not sure on the timing of that.

If her boyfriend is staying in private accomodations then it should be possible for her to come over on a tourist visa twice to live with him in two 90-day blocks. Six out of eight months isn't bad.

Finding "privates" [lingo for private students] should be relatively straightforward for a well-educated Dutch woman with an entree into Todai. This won't get her a visa but should open the door for getting the experience necessary to getting sponsorship at a proper eikaiwa agency should her boyfriend remain a 2nd year there.


April: boyfriend moves over
May ~ July: She's there getting acclimated and studying
August is national vacation month so she goes back to Holland
Sept ~ Nov: 2nd 90 day period, start search for visa position
posted by panamax at 3:30 AM on January 30, 2008

armage: how fluent is your Japanese, may I ask? Mine was good enough to get by for 5 years in a proper bilingual office setting, and I guess I'm easily JLPT-2 level, but DISCO just scares the crap out of me :(
posted by panamax at 3:33 AM on January 30, 2008

armage has the right idea - her best bet would be to try for full time Japanese study and a student visa which allows her to work 20 hours a week.

Not having Japanese is a disadvantage certainly - as is being outside of the country when applying.
posted by gomichild at 3:47 AM on January 30, 2008

panamax: I have JLPT 1-kyu, and I rarely use English on a daily basis either at work or at home. If you have 2-kyu, you should have a good chance at DISCO -- most of my non-Japanese friends who went had 2-kyu or something close, and I know of at least one who got a job with UBS and came to Tokyo thanks to DISCO.
posted by armage at 4:00 AM on January 30, 2008

the panamax "visit twice" or armage "language study" plans are definitely most realistic. The difficulty with either is the living situation, since the kinds of apartments that my friends at Todai have are typically on the scale of 11 square meters. Sharing such an apartment for a week requires love and patience, for 6 months, that may be superhuman power.

my experience included a 1 year job search, and 6 months from job offer to visa. the big schools (Geos/Aeon scale) could have had me from offer to teaching in 3 months, but they really do hire native speakers only, the big schools. This was with a master's in engineering and one semester of Japanese.

Also, she may consider expanding her acceptable geography to the non-Tokyo areas that people commute to/from regularly, including Saitama and Yokohama.
posted by whatzit at 6:19 AM on January 30, 2008

What whatzit said about getting a student visa. If she can do that and work 20 hours a week, GABA is supposed to be good for teaching EFL, and they sometimes hire nonnative, but very good, English-speakers. That company also lets you choose your working hours, better than most other eikaiwa schools.
posted by Jhoosier at 4:10 PM on January 30, 2008

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