Dec 18, 2020

Japan – the land of the rising sun – home of technology, sushi, ramen, bullet trains, anime and amazing fashion, who wouldn’t want to visit? Better yet, why not live there? Embarking on the adventure of a lifetime can seem a bit scary – even more so when you don’t speak the language. While Japanese is an absolutely beautiful language, it can be quite tricky to learn. Without speaking Japanese, it can be hard to find a job. However, there are jobs in Japan for English speakers available, and we’ll help you find them!

How to Get a Job in Japan

The first step of your adventure is to get a Working Holiday Visa. Without this you will not be able to work in Japan.

In order to qualify for this Japanese working holiday visa, you must meet certain requirements, for example as a Canadian you need to:

  • Be a Canadian citizen currently residing in Canada
  • Hold a valid Canadian passport
  • Be between 18 and 30 years old
  • Have never previously held a Japan Working Holiday Visa

And a few extras. If dealing with all the paperwork isn’t your favourite, leave it to us!

It’s important to note that a Working Holiday Visa in Japan is geared towards casual work. For any serious professional career-type jobs, you’ll need a different type of visa which requires the a company hiring you and sponsoring you. With the crazy hours office-workers have to put up with in Japan, a casual gig is the best option for avid travellers looking to explore!

The Best Jobs in Japan for English Speakers

Hospitality & Tourism

This is a common working holiday gig whatever country you end up choosing – I worked in hospitality in Chile on my working holiday! Plenty of hotels that cater to mostly foreigners will hire English speaking employees. Likewise for certain tour companies.

Working at the front desk, the restaurant or housekeeping are a few of your options in the hospitality industry for English speakers. If you have previous work experience related to the area you want to work in this will be helpful.

Ski Resorts

Picture this…you have a day off and you can spend it on the best slopes in the whole of Japan – and once you’re done, you head inside for a steaming bowl of ramen.

Stepabroad’s Ski Resort Working Holiday Program can help make your ski dreams come true.

There are many different types of jobs for English speakers at Japanese ski resorts such as: ski instructor, shuttle bus driver, property maintenance, housekeeping, guest services, spa therapists, chef, servers and baristas. It is best to have previous work experience in the area you want to work. If not, housekeeping is usually an option.

Working in a ski resort in Japan is unlike any other experience. Lucky for you, we can take care of everything so you have a fully worry-free working holiday. We help with all the pesky paperwork, setting up interviews, guaranteed job, and a place to stay – score!

Check out this video from one of Stepabroad’s Japan Ski Report Working Holiday Program participants to learn about their experience. .

Camp Counsellor

If you’ve got enough enthusiasm to share, working as a camp counsellor in Japan might just be the perfect opportunity for you.

Camps, like this one, often hire foreigners to introduce children to different cultures and the English language.

A bit less structured than a traditional teaching environment, working in a kids’ camp is just good fun all around. The one downfall is that since Japanese students have very short school breaks, you will only work for a couple of months.

Japanese Children playing


Teaching English is the number one job for foreigners in Japan. Most other working holiday-ers you’ll meet will likely be English teachers.

There are however, different types of teaching jobs. You can be a private one-on-one tutor, a normal class-teacher, a teaching assistant or even work in childcare or as a nanny.

Most teaching jobs in Japan have specific requirements like having completed a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course or any other equivalent and holding a completed Bachelor’s degree. It’s a very competitive line of work as it’s the most advertised job in Japan for English speakers.

We’re happy to help you navigate the world of Japanese job hunting. Plenty of resources, a resume review (super important for securing job interviews) and visa assistance are all included in our Japan Send Off Package.

Zara with coworkers dressed up for Halloween
Stepabroad participant, Zara taught English on her Japan working holiday

Being a Digital Nomad

Working from home, but making home somewhere else makes things a little more exciting.

Nowadays, you can create your own schedule and make your office anywhere. Fiverr or UpWork are great ways to sell your skills. Is there something you’re really good at and want to share it with the world, why not create and sell a course on Thinkific? The possibilities are endless!

If teaching interests you but you don’t meet the Japanese requirements, there are plenty of online classrooms, like this one – I’ve personally used it while travelling and found it to be super flexible.

Being a digital nomad in Japan does not require you to speak any Japanese so it’s a great job option for English speakers.

Freelancing in Japan
Freelance while living in Japan or teach English online for lots of flexibility!

Want to know how to work in Japan as a Canadian?

My Experience Working in Japan

When I lived in Japan, I worked as an English teacher in Yokohama, Japan. Having previously taught English in China without speaking a lick of Mandarin, the prospect of working in Japan as an English-speaker seemed like a natural transition.

I spent my weekdays teaching away. I taught adults, teenagers and children in one-on-one lessons which really allowed me to focus on my students. The schedule was a little wild, but I still managed to make plenty of lifelong friends, eat far too much delicious food and visit beautiful places.

Amongst my favourites were daytrips from Tokyo: Enoshima Island for it’s caves, Kamakura for it’s giant Buddha, Kawagoe for it’s traditional architecture and of course Hakone for it’s hot spring baths, locally known as onsens.

Japanese people are some of the nicest I’ve ever met – they might even beat Canadians in the politeness department! So don’t worry too much about your lack of Japanese skills. If I managed for a year, so can you! The only thing I remember how to say in Japanese nowadays involves ordering a beer…

Learn Japanese to Land a Job Faster

Knowing some Japanese, while not absolutely necessary, is definitely an asset. It will significantly increase the number of jobs you can apply to. Plus, you’ll be able to speak with locals and learn even more about Japanese culture!

The City Experience Working Holiday Program includes all of the perks of the Send Off Program with the added bonus of a month of Japanese lessons in either Tokyo, Kyoto or Fukuoka. With field trips, karaoke nights, festival outings, game nights and plenty more, the program is a great way to learn and meet people!

There are plenty of ways to learn a new language, even if it’s just a few words. It’s the perfect time to watch a Studio Ghibli movie, listen to j-pop or get into anime!

Japan Jobs

For your first Japanese lesson: gaijin is the Japanese word for foreigner or Westerner, you’re sure to hear it a few times.

So pack your bags and get ready to join your new family – gaijins – in the land of the rising sun!

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