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Paghahanapbuhay sa Hapon

earathouearathou PExer
edited March 2019 in The Working Filipino
Can anyone tell me how high is the cost of living in Japan?

I am applying for a programmer in Japan but I don't know how much salary should I be asking. How about rent and city expenses? Anything more that I should know before going there?

I need ideas from you guys.
Thanks! :bashful:


  • Hello people! I'm a 24 yr. old system engineer working for a financial institution here in Tokyo, Japan. What can I tell ya...? I feel that God has blessed me so much that I was lucky enough to get a job, not just a job.. but a good job in the land of the rising sun. I had to take a lot of sacrifice just to reach where I am now, and I want to share this to all. God has given me so much, now I want to share that blessing to other people. So if you have any questions about how to land a good job in Japan, post a message! I'm most willing to help.
  • Internet:
    The Internet can be an invaluable tool in Job-Hunting. I got my first job browsing through the Internet. Though it takes a lot of time and effort just browsing through the myriad of documents available, I assure you it is much more worthwhile than just relying on newspaper advertisements. I listed the website addresses of the companies I visited/or interviewed with before. There are also a lot of English schools in Japan that are looking for teachers. I didn't include it here since I want to focus on more professional fields like that of finance or in IT. If you're interested in Teaching English in Japan, just ask me and I'm more than willing to post some tips.


    Newspaper & Magazines Advertisements
    Newspaper & Magazine advertisements are the most common way that foreigners get their jobs. Once you reach Japan, you will need to buy a newspaper (most easily found at train stations). The Japan Times in English has employment ads in their Monday morning edition. This is the only day that the ads are published, and the paper is often not available after about 11am. It is very important to get the paper very early and answer the ads immediately (often they will say something like "call Monday 8am-12pm"). It is not uncommon for all the interview spots to be filled in the first couple hours after the paper comes out Monday morning. It is generally the jobs in the bigger cities (such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, etc.) that go so quickly. Jobs in the smaller rural towns are much more available, but the distance and isolation often make them less desirable. Many of the ads will have very specific parameters about the qualifications they are looking.

    Japan Times - Monday Edition (180 Yen / Be sure to grab this before 12 noon as this paper sells like pancakes)
    Tokyo Classified (Free / You can get this in most bars or discos that caters to foreigners)
    Foreigners Info (Free / This are brochures or pamphlets that you can get in bars as well as Foreign recording stores like Tower Records)

    Finding a job through friends that are already living and teaching in Japan is the ideal way. Often this will enable you to get the travel, living arrangements, and
    visa set up ahead of time--saving lots of time, energy , and money. The company will sometimes want to interview you over the phone, have photos mailed, or possibly verify your college degree. Not everyone has friends already in Japan to get this kind of lead, but if you know people, take advantage of any opportunities they can provide!
    Also, if you are already in Japan looking for a job, and the newspaper is not getting you any leads, another good plan is to approach the company directly. The best reference for this is to get an English phone book of the area you wan t to work in. It is also good to get an English Tokyo phone book since the big multinational companies usually have offices in Tokyo. English phone books are relatively easy to find. Simply look in a Japanese phone book and there will be at least one English page with phone numbers of local phone company offices. Call them (hopefully getting someone that speaks English) and ask for directions to the nearest office. You can go there and get an English phone book for free. Then look in the yellow pages, and start calling for information!
    Japan also has a few information centers for foreigners that can be helpful. There are some private information centers scattered around the city, such as the Kimi Information Center in Tokyo. Kimi offers copying services for resumes, they make business cards, have a weekly advertisement publication, have a message taking system for job-seekers that are not reachable where they are staying, they will send and receive faxes, and have typewriters. All of these service cost a modest fee, but can be invaluable for a foreigner. There are other similar facilities in other cities as well.
  • Best Time to Go

    It is possible to get a job throughout the year though, since employees come and go for a variety of reasons. But there are some key weeks to be aware of.
    One of the best times to arrive is the middle of February. Other good times to find a job are right around the three major holiday periods, as this is a breaking point for some people. In the beginning of May, Japan celebrates "Golden week," a week containing three major holidays. And In late July or August there is the "Obon Festival." Most businesses close for these holidays. Traveling during this time can be very difficult, but if you get there a few weeks prior, you may find positions becoming vacant. And in the end of December through New Years, most schools and many businesses take a week or two off. Again, many positions come available around this time.

    Best Way to Get to Japan

    Airline travel is designed mainly for the business and tourist traveler. The lowest priced tickets usually have a maximum return date of 90 days. It is smart to schedule the return ticket for a date e that is before you expect to run out of money to support yourself (in case you are not successful at getting a job). One-way tickets are not an option (and are not really any cheaper) unless you have a prearranged work visa granted in the your country. This is unusual unless you are visiting under a structured program. To find a job while in Japan you must first enter on a tourist or temporary visa, which requires that you have a return ticket.
    If you get a job that sponsors you for a work visa, they will often pay for some or all of the travel costs to get the visa stamped into your passport. You can get a work visa issued in Japan while on a tourist or temporary visa. Once you are approved for a work visa, it is good for a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years depending on the contract the company gives you. There are a lot of requirements to get approved though. The primary one is that you must have a college degree. Except under special circumstances, Japan generally does not grant work visas to people without degrees. And there are very few companies that will hire you without a degree. You also have to have a passport valid for at least 15 more months, and two photos. Then you must complete the proper forms in Japanese (which the company usually has, and will help you with), and the sponsor must take all of this to the nearest immigration office. When it is approved, they will give you the proper documents to take to the consulate so you can have your visa stamped.
    There are companies that do not sponsor work visas. A company has to be in business for a prescribed amount of time before they are allowed to sponsor a foreigner for a work visa. Thus, there are some newer companies that have jobs, but you are responsible for staying in the country. In most cases, some foreigners leave and re-enter with tourist visas every three months. This is illegal and socially frowned upon, but sometimes done.
  • Interview Preparation

    Interviewing in Japan is not much different than interviewing in your Manila. But there are a few formality differences, and companies might be looking for things that you might not expect. If you answer an ad or contact a company, you need to be prepared to fax or mail a resume, and have the resume available at the interview. The expected resume layout is not any different from the American style, keeping it direct and simple. Stress any work experience or education that deals with the job your interested. The main difference is the paper size. Since Japan is on the metric system, the standard sheet of paper is a little bit off from the letter size that is standard in Manila. It is not, however, a bad thing to have the letter size paper. If you will be doing any faxing though, keep this in mind and use wider margin space (since their paper is narrower). You will find that it is much cheaper and easier to do your resume in Manila and bring a number of copies with you to Japan. However, if you do not know where you will be staying, you will want to get "business" cards once you get there. Many prospective job-hunters will have cards printed with their name, Japanese address, and phone number. It is also good to have these translated and written in Japanese on the other side (although this will be more expensive). Then you can simply attach it to the resume.
    Having photos is another important thing. Many places will ask you to mail or fax a photo with your resume (and business card). This is very common and legal. There are photo boxes all over Japan where you can get four photos for about 1000 yen, but they are not always the best quality. Occasionally you might be asked for a full-length photo. Faxing is better with black and white photos. On the other hand, expensive, professional portraits are not necessary. It is best to arrive in Japan with a few copies of portrait size photos and a full-length color photo, and at least one black and white versions of both. Photocopies and fax copies are acceptable of the black and white photo.
    When actually going to the interview, make sure that you have good directions. Streets in Japan typically do not have names, so get landmarks and perhaps train station exit numbers. Try to establish beforehand whether or not the interviewer will pay for any of the trip. If not, try to plan the cheapest route (there are often slower trains that are significantly cheaper). Leave a lot of extra time, since getting lost is so easy. Look neat and conservative, even at the cost of a haircut or new clothes (although you would want to buy any clothes before you leave Manila since Japanese sizes and styles are quite different and prices much higher).
  • Living in Japan

    1. The living conditions in Japan are a little different from America or any other countries. The Japanese society is very efficient, but sometimes at a cost in comfort. Most homes in the city will have running hot and cold water, although the water heater may need to be re-lit for each use (this saves on fuel). In the rural areas it is not uncommon to have to fill the bath-tub, and then heat the water within. Central air-conditioning is uncommon in most homes, however window units are available (but expensive). Most homes use space heaters. This way you only have to pay to heat the room that you are in (if you have more than one room). They are usually either electric air or kerosene. Kerosene is cheaper, but must be turned off when you leave or sleep to avoid creating a fire hazard. Many people also buy electric rugs and electric blankets. And nearly every home will have a "kotatsu" ...a table with a heater underneath and a quilt that covers you from the waist down (sitting on the floor, of course).

    2. Getting housing on your own may not be easy at first. A short-term solution in the larger cities is to rent a room in a "gaijin house." These are dorm style rooms for rent that usually share a bathroom and kitchen (if there is a kitchen). Once you have a job, the company usually will assist with finding a real apartment. Apartments are very small, usually one room and a small kitchen and bath. The bathroom often does not have a sink, and some apartments do not come with any light fixtures or curtains.

    3. Buying clothing in Japan is not always easy. if you are a large person, I recommend bringing a good supply with you. Shorter, slimmer people will not have a problem with size, but the styles may not be what you're used to. It is common to either loose weight or gain weight while there. Most people I have interviewed indicated that they lost weight, mainly due to the walking and bike riding that many foreigners are not used to. If you do find that you need to buy clothes and can't get what you need in Japan, "Land's End" catalog makes international shopping relatively easy. Phoning and shipping are not cheap, but reasonable. Laundry is usually done in a washing machine (it's easy to get a used one if there is not already one in the apartment). This is not what you think of as a washer though. You must turn on a faucet and manually change the system from filling to draining through each cycle. Then you can spin you clothes, and hang them to dry. There are some coin laundries for big items, but using them on a daily basis is not often done.

    4. Most kitchens in Japan have a sink. You can't always count on anything more than that. Sometimes you will have a small refrigerator and perhaps a gas outlet for a stove (or an electric outlet for a hot plate). But you may need to buy these things. Ovens are rare, and most people have either a toaster oven or a microwave. All this depends on whether the school is providing you with a "furnished" apartment, or whether you are getting it on your own. So depending on your situation, cooking can be a challenge. Eating out is a wonderful alternative, but can be expensive. Grocery stores in Japan usually stock similar items to those in western countries but it's not always easy to figure out what is what. The wave of diet and light foods has not caught on very well in Japan yet, but with all the exercise, that's not usually a big concern.

    5. The currency of Japan is the Yen. It's rate has been fluctuating a lot lately, but has been between around 130-140 Yen to the Dollar over the past two years. The smallest bill is 1000 Yen (just under $10.00) and all smaller denominations are coins. Nearly everything is done with cash in Japan. Some places will take credit cards, but no one uses checks. The "paycheck" is usually cash, and even the bills are paid at the bank in cash (where they transfer it to the payee's account). You can open an account if you find that you are saving a lot of money and don't want to keep it in your apartment. Japan typically uses a signature stamp that you must create and buy. It is not usually your signature, but some type of character.

    Getting Around Japan
    Your initial experience will be getting from the airport to the city. Most people fly into Narita airport and stay in Tokyo. Train or shuttle bus is the best way. If you know anyone there, it might be helpful to have them meet you since carrying suitcases on a crowded subway can be difficult if not impossible!
    Local transportation by train in Japan is very easy. In the big cities you will rarely find yourself more than 15 minutes walk from a train or subway station. The trains come every few minutes during the day, and they usually run from about 5am to about midnight. In the rural areas the trains may come only once an hour with shorter daytime hours. Most stations in the big cities have the names of the station in English letters so you can identify where you are. There may only be one or two signs, though, so you have to look hard to see them! Outside of the big cities many of the stations signs are in Japanese only, however they are usually written in "katakana," a Japanese syllabet. These characters are not too difficult to learn so you can identify where you are coming from and going to, even if you cannot pronounce them and don't know what they mean. There are subway maps available in English in most major stations, however these often don't include the commuter trains (often privately operated). Hotels sometimes have larger, better maps available. If you are trying to save money, note that there are sometimes local trains that are cheaper. For long distances the shinkansen (bullet train) is very fast, but also quite expensive. There is not a lot of air travel within Japan mainly because the trains are fast and efficient.
    Travelling by bus is quite difficult, since most streets in Japan don't have names, and the schedules are very difficult to read. It is better to have a friend escort you the first few times so you will be accustomed with how public transportation works in Japan.
    Hiring a taxi is another good way to get around short distances. They are expensive, so you would be best taking a taxi only if there is no train available, and you are not going very far. Since the trains do not run in the middle of the night, a taxi is often the only alternative. You can find taxis outside most train stations, hotels, or tourist spots.
    Driving a car in Japan is possible, but I would recommend it only to the most experienced driver. They drive on the left, and the streets are very narrow. This is
    something you might consider after a few months there. Used cars are quite cheap, but the registration, parking, and insurance can be very expensive.
    Riding a bicycle can be a really good choice depending on where you work. Used bicycles are easy to get. If you live in a particularly hilly area this may be more work than it' s worth. And of course bicycles cannot be taken on trains. Some people keep a bicycle on each end of their daily train route if it is a long distance to and from the station. Bicycle theft is relatively uncommon in Japan, but it is a good idea to have it locked anyway.
  • If you guys need some background information concerning Visa applications and the like, just post your question here, and I am most willing to help you out on that. :)
  • pexpresspexpress PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    hello... this thread really made my day...alam your an exception to the rule.... your very helpful.... i am considering to apply to japan...im a programmer with a diverse skills set such as vb, c/c++, java , sql, unix, nt, xml...specialty is web and web integration.

    id be happy to msg with you regarding what you can help me with
  • Your diverse background in programming will help land you a job here in Tokyo. Do you have some Japanese language skills background? If you do, even better. Companies will go for you like hot bread. If you don't, it's ok as well. As long as your willing to learn the language, you wont have a problem with that. Working in the I.T. field is one of the most exciting professional jobs here in Tokyo. One thing is for certain, most of the systems you will use will be in English, and not in Japanese, specially for big companies. Though there are some companies who use both Japanese and English systems. The supply of English speaking I.T. people is quite on a decline, and you can easily fit in the job. Check the sites I mentioned on my tip guide. Those are companies looking for people with I.T. background. One thing to remember though, when you are making an application letter, you should address the reasons why the company should hire someone with no Japanese background skills. If I were you, you should focus on the finer aspects of your skills. Redirect your disadvantages to glaring advatages. In my case, my Japanese skills were not that good, and I can barely reply in Nihongo. I didn't even graduate with an I.T. degree when I was in the university. All I did was packaged and reinvented myself to be a professional that can adapt in any environment. Most employers see this as a focal point in a potential employee. My boss once told me that my confidence in my skills though I didn't graduate from an I.T. degree was the main selling point of my resume and letter. So my advise is, SELL yourself. It doesn't matter if you don't have the language skills, what matters most is that you should know how to advertise yourself. And with your extensive computer background, I feel you won't have a problem doing that.
    So just browse the websites I mentioned earlier, and if you have any other questions, just shoot away. :)
  • One thing you should put in mind, is that you're just one of the thousands who are competing to land a professional job in Japan. I am not discouraging you. I am just preparing you for the facts. Before I came here a year ago, I had this notion that I could get a job easily. Well, that notion was wrong. It took me time, and I had to sacrifice a lot. It was a good thing I had a Japanese girlfriend, and she was the one who helped when I was in need. If you have some friends here in Tokyo, it would be an advantage specially when you're job hunting.
    When I came here, initially I had like 50 companies all lined up for interview. Out of the 50 I only passed 1. I guess me not being in the I.T. field before affected the ratio. Not a good passing ratio if you ask me, but it was worth the sacrifice. My first job was as an English Teacher here, eventually I moved on and now I'm in System Engineering.
    So keep that confidence up, and be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices. But don't worry, in the end.. it will all pay off.
  • This is the information about working visas. For residents outside of Japan, recently the tax and immigration laws changed or were modified. In the past foreigners with a tourist visa entering Japan had to leave Japan in order to change their visa status to working visa. Now however, if you come to Japan on a tourist visa and find a job that is able to sponsor your work visa (i.e. pay you the minimum yearly salary: this minimum has also changed) you don't have to leave Japan to change status. For example, if you wish to teach English in Japan you can come over here on tourist visa, go sightseeing, get introduced to a job, sign a contract and commence working and your visa is good for 3 years (In the past, your visa had to be renewed yearly.) Below is the information about Visas.
    If a foreigner wishes to enter Japan for activities other than those as a tourist, he or she will need a diplomatic visa, official visa, working visa, general visa,
    or specified visa. Naturally, foreigners who enter Japan having acquired a working visa are able to work in Japan. Typical types of employment include the long-term
    assignment to Japan of foreign company personnel; employment in Japanese companies to make use of the foreigner's knowledge of other countries; entertainment
    activities, such as concerts, theater, and sports; and educational activities, such as foreign-language teaching.
    It is also possible to get permission for long-term stays for some activities that meet certain criteria, such as Japanese university or college education or company
    training, although work is not permitted in these cases. Permission for long-term residence in Japan is also granted in the case of spouses of Japanese nationals and
    others who settle in Japan.
    When applying for a visa for the above-mentioned activities, it is advisable to apply in Japan beforehand for a Certificate of Eligibility. If a foreigner submits a visa application to an embassy or consulate together with a Certificate of Eligibility, he or she will be able to obtain a visa in a shorter time than applicants without such a certificate.
    Foreigners can apply for a visa without such a certificate at an embassy or consulate in the case of long-term stays also. But if the purpose of the stay is work, the
    application documents might be forwarded to a regional immigration authority in Japan for screening. In this case visa applicants are advised to leave plenty of time for
    their application to be processed.
  • pexpresspexpress PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    your knowledge about japan is very impressive its good to meet you. My email is [email protected]

    I have had basic Japanese Language courses in college.

    But may I ask where I can find contact details of prospective employers???

  • Ebisu24, almost everything I, like most people outside Japan, read in the news pertaining to that country has something to do with how bad the economy is. Employees are getting laid off or retiring early. The homeless are reappearing in the streets.

    How long have you been there? And just how bad is the economy, and the job market?
  • It's good to meet you as well. It's nice to know you've got some Nihongo background when you were in college. This will help you out a lot specially when dealing with potential employers. It's kinda difficult to go direct to a big company, but you can try. The sites I mentioned earlier like Lincmedia or Robertwalters are head-hunting or placement companies. Basically they hire you, and your contract of employment will be under them, but they will outsource you afterwards, specially when the need arises. You have a good chance with Lincmedia and Biosjp. Try checking the sites out, but be sure you have a good application letter ready.
  • pexpresspexpress PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    ive sent to bios ... your leads were good enough..thanks man... signing out for the day
  • The thing's you've read is true. The bubble economoy of the 80's and early 90's are now but a myth. Huge companies, mainly banks are succumbing to the economic crisis. Sogo, one of the biggest and oldest department store chains in Japan just closed down. Japan is still in an economic downturn, and it's far from over.
    I've been in Japan since April. I was fortunate enough to work as an I.T. Engineer for an American Financial company. I.T. I.T. Job demand is quite high, and is rising every month. The Japanese Immigration recently lowered its requirements, specially to those who are interested to work in I.T. related fields. There's a huge backlog of I.T. personnel in Japan, that's why a lot of people are coming here for work. Concerning other job fields, the job markets are kinda lame on this areas. Management positions are on the drop, and most companies are looking for young bloods rather than old "salary" men to bolster their ranks. This is why there's a huge number of unemployed people now. Most of this people are either from the old economy that couldnt meet the changing times. Others are those from the 3rd job level categories (Salesladies, factory workers, etc.) A lot of Japanese are feeling the burnt of the constant influx of foreign professional workers, and nowadays, since English is getting quite popular here, most companies would rather foreigners with good extensive foreign language skills rather than plain old homegrown talents.
    In other words, for foreigners, the job market is vast. For Japanese, if they don't have good foreign language skills, the job market is small.
  • There are some new immigration rulings concerning those who wish to apply as an I.T. worker in Japan. I'll post the new rulings tomorrow.
  • Another good site to check for jobs in Japan is http://www.workinjapan.com
  • If you guys need any aspects concerning life in Japan.. just post in the thread. :)
  • Another Tip.

    Concerning Working Visa Applications. Normally there are two ways on how to apply for a working visa. First is you get a sponsor who then applies you for a Certificate of Eligibility. Once this is released, you present it the consulate where they stamp the working visa. Another is if you go to the embassy to apply for the working visa directly. The only difference is that the latter takes up more time.

    Another tip: If you graduated with a double degree course in any university in the Philippines, be warned. In the Education manual of the Japanese Immigration office, the Philippines is listed as a country that only offers single degree education. So if you apply for a job in Japan and you indicated that you've got two degrees, your chances of working might be hampered a little bit unless you've got tons of certification and documentation from the Philippines to explain how you got your 2 diplomas. So my word of advise. Just stick to 1 when you apply. It will avoid any hassles.
  • Hi ebisu24,

    Thanks for starting this thread. Your knowledge and understanding of the land of the rising sun is very insightful and incredibly perceptive. I'm sure a lot of people, and Pinoys for that matter, have benefitted from your post. :D

    I just would like to know if you ever remitted your hard earned money out of Japan to the Philippines? I've previously heard that Japan is quite strict in this regard and I was wondering if that's still true. Is there a limit to the amount you can remit (if so, how much)? What's the most popular means of remittance? Are there any Philippine banks or Pinoy owned money remittance centers in Japan to do this for you? What's the cost for doing this? :confused:

    Thanks again and oh, before i forget... Happy Holy Week! :angel:
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