Think you’re up to working abroad in the largest city on earth? With nearly 40 million people living in its metropolitan area, and with a local culture which is impressively unique relative to other leading global cities, Tokyo can often seem like an entire world on its own. Landing a job abroad in Tokyo is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a one-of-a-kind city, exploring the richness of Japanese culture and gaining invaluable work experience in one of the world’s most influential hubs of finance, politics, and culture.
Jobs Abroad in Tokyo
As you might guess from a city of 38 million, there are a wide array of professional opportunities available to work abroad in Tokyo. Japan’s capital is considered to be one of the most important global cities in the world, and is home to a huge amount of multinational companies and organizations which employ international workers. Media, journalism, and international relations are just three examples of fields in which you can find fruitful work abroad in Tokyo.
As you may also have guessed, however, most professional positions in Tokyo will also expect that you speak Japanese in order to be considered for hiring. While many Japanese citizens in Tokyo do speak English on a conversational basis, in the workplace Japanese is the set standard. If you’re not familiar with the language and have your heart set on a job abroad in Tokyo, it’s never too late to start learning!
If learning Japanese seems unrealistic based on your current circumstances, then fear not; there are still a variety of English-speaking jobs abroad in Tokyo which are offered frequently on a temporary basis. Working in education, hospitality, or as an au pair, for example, are great ways to experience life in the city while putting in the work hours to make it possible.
Life in Tokyo
As a foreigner visiting Japan for the first time, Tokyo can feel somewhat surreal upon arrival. There are tens of millions of people in the city, but a polite and efficient public ethos never makes that number feel overwhelming. There are huge skyscrapers overshadowing the city at some points, with ancient pagodas and temples dotting the landscape elsewhere. Well-kept green areas such as Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden also offer a welcome release from the swell of urbanity.
From the crowded market places to the sprawling entertainment complexes to the niche bars and restaurants of all different types, foreigners could truly spend several lifetimes exploring all there is to be seen and done while they work abroad in Tokyo. You don’t get to be the world’s largest city, after all, without filling in all the seams. Take advantage of the city’s infamously comprehensive and punctual train system to soak in as much of a diversity of Tokyo as possible during your time abroad.
On a last note, it will also be a good idea to train yourself in the basics of Japanese cultural nuances before you disembark for a job abroad in Tokyo. You will learn as you go, but little pieces of knowledge at the outset – such as that leaving tips is considered rude, and to take your shoes off when entering a home –can bring you a long way in your adjustment.
Salaries & Costs
There’s no sense in beating around the bush; Tokyo is an expensive city to live in. Your salary while you work abroad in Tokyo will obviously vary with the field you are employed in, but for the most part you can expect permanent positions to leave you with some disposable income, while temporary jobs through work abroad programs will pay you closer to what you need to get by. The currency in Tokyo is the Japanese yen, which exchanges at about 105 JPY to $1 USD.
Accommodation & Visas
Some employers will help you sort out housing prior to your arrival in Tokyo, while others will leave it to you to secure accommodation. If you are expected to find your own housing, then looking online ahead of time is generally the safest route to take. You may also want to seek out roommates to live with at first, because rent can be quite expensive in Tokyo. Some of the most popular expat neighborhoods you can look into include Hiroo, Azabu, and Yoyogi Uehara.
Your employer will likely also have to endorse you for a work and/or residential visa, depending on the particulars of your job abroad in Tokyo. What type of visa you need will depend on what kind of job you are working, how long you will be living in the city, and what your home nation is. For more information regarding your individual circumstances, check out our Japanese Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
On an Island. Tokyo is in fact literally on an island (Honshu), but the analogy goes much further. The world’s largest city is a community unto itself, and one that can provide you the most fun, rewarding, and challenging experience of your life.
Language Immersion. Japanese is a difficult language to learn, but if you plan on working a job abroad in Tokyo, then the best way to go about it is to dive in headfirst. Make a genuine, disciplined effort to learn, and you’ll be conversing in no time.
Culture Shock. Adapting to life in Tokyo can be challenging in many ways for foreigners. There are many norms and expectations to adjust to, but you will find locals to be extremely friendly and accommodating during the process.
Finding work abroad in Tokyo is just the first step of what will turn into an incredible global journey. If you’re ambitious, adventurous, and willing to learn, then nothing but success awaits you in the Land of the Rising Sun.