There are many jobs in Japan for Americans and other expats, however if you are going to come without a job. You need to be sure to bring enough Yen to tide you over until you do find one. I had two jobs lined up before I came but still took out a bank loan of $3,000 dollars before I came. I`m glad I did as it was a safety-net for me before my first pay check arrived six weeks later.
How long will it take you to get a job in Japan?
This is the key question.
If possible you should stay with a friend as Japan is a very expensive country to live in. Barring this option, a gaijin house, as mentioned elsewhere at this site, is probably the cheapest option for a place to sleep.
If you are a native speaker and have a bachelor`s degree you can get a teaching position once here. However the question remains as to how long this will take, and how much money you will need to go through? If you have no degree and wish to teach, get a degree before going to Japan.
Taking trains to interviews and paying for the other costs of living that are infamously high–especially in the big cities, will drain you of yen.
Jobs in Japan for Americans
Americans who want to go to Japan to work, can only come with a tourist visa or a working visa. Switching from a tourist visa to a working visa happens all the time. Though you won`t catch a Japanese Immigration authority talking about it much. It is one of those open secrets so common to Japan. Certainly, most Americans simply don`t tell immigration that their goal is to come to work in Japan. They say they are sightseeing.
(Pictured: a Japanese wedding, by Paul Canosa)
One website about how to get a teaching job in Japan claimed it was a scam if an English school asks you to come on a tourist visa. It made me chuckle in front of my computer monitor.
Getting a working visa has taken up to four months (during times of crisis — ie) after 9/11). So on the one hand, an Australian can get her visa in a matter of days, but an American can at times wait months.
Usually it doesn`t take so long, (usually just a few weeks; but on rare occasions even just days to get a working visa). However, just because a school tells you to come on a tourist visa, may simply mean that they need someone quickly. Even a few weeks is too long for the school if they don`t have a teacher to teach the classes.
I`m not suggesting you break the law. I am just trying to explain a common occurance in Japan.
Sometimes Japanese laws are unrealistic. The law may state one thing, but the reality of the matter is another. English schools need teachers. Often they need them quickly.
Teachers sometimes don`t give any notice and just quit. The English school must hire someone quickly.It doesn`t mean the English school is bad or out to scam you. They need a good teacher to fill a vacancy. They may ask you to come on a tourist visa if they really want to hire YOU, and not someone else.
If the school is in an outlying area, they don`t have many teachers knocking on their doors.
How does this happen?
Japanese Immigration of course is a government bureau and requires the government to provide it with money. They use this money to hire personnel amongst other things. If many people from other countries try to enter Japan at the same time, which usually happens between March-June of each year, there is often a backlog of unissued visas.
There are simply not enough immigration clerks to process the demand at times.
So if you are lucky enough to be able to get a working holiday visa, you can get it in three days and these visas of course are given priority–they are the first class visas. The working visas are economy class. They are processed last.
One good thing about Japan is that the law often bends. The fact is many Americans if not most, come to Japan on tourist visas then switch to working visas. This is simply a fact of working life in Japan, as few teachers quitting their positions in Japan give more than one months notice.
You do the math.
It doesn`t give schools enough time to secure the working visas for Americans. So they either have to hire a citizen of the Commonwealth, or tell a US citizen to come on a tourist visa and switch it over.