Working Holidays in Japan

Like several other countries around the world (The UK, Australia, New Zealand for example), Japan offers a working holiday system for young people wishing to visit for more than just a holiday.

Available to residents of a number of countries, these working holiday visas allow for stays longer than the traditional three months, and in some cases up to a year depending on the country you are applying from. Intended to be focussed more around the idea of holidaying and working a little as you go, as opposed to obtaining just to come here and work, they allow Japan enthusiasts to get a real taste of Japan. As a result, there is a requirement for you have a certain amount of savings built up to show that you’re able to support yourself without the actual need to work.

The following will help you get an idea of the working holiday process, see if you can apply and what do if you don’t meet the requirements.

Although the information was correct at the time of publishing, information is subject to change so please check with your local Japanese embassy before making any big decisions.

Why should I consider it?

Japan is incredible. Life’s too short. Why not?

Am I eligible?

If you come from one of the following countries, then maybe. This is a list of the countries eligible and when they joined the programme.


To participate in the working holiday programmes, an applicant must satisfy the following requirements.

The requirements may differ depending on the nationality of the applicant. Further information on visa application procedures can be obtained from Embassies or Consulates-General of Japan in your country/region or Interchange Association (Taipei Office or Kaohsiung Office).

For a nationals of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iceland, Czech or Lithuania an applicant must be currently residing in his or her country of nationality
Intending primarily to spend holiday in Japan for a specific length of time.
Being between 18 and 30 years of age both inclusive at the time of application for the visa; As for Australia, Canada and Republic of Korea, an applicant should be between 18 and 25 years of age except in those cases where the competent authorities of Japan agree to extend the limitation of age to 30 years. In the case of Iceland, the applicant should be between 18 and 26 years of age.
Not being accompanied by dependents or children.
Possessing a valid passport of his or her country/region and a return travel ticket or sufficient funds with which to purchase such a ticket.
Possessing reasonable funds for the maintenance of his/her stay during the initial period of stay in Japan.
Being in good health.
Never having been issued a Japanese working holiday visa in the past.

What kind of work can I do?

I’m going to take a guess here and say that you don’t speak decent Japanese. If you do, then the sky is your limit – you can work anywhere. But if you don’t, no worries – neither do I and I have lived in Japan for two years. The main options you have include:

Working in a ski resort – Japan is well known for its skiing, so if you’re here in the winter, there always plenty of work for English speakers. I did this as my first winter in Japan as a gentle introduction to my then girlfriend’s culture. Hakuba near Tokyo is highly recommended, but others are available, and Evergreen are the largest employer there.
Working at a tourist attraction in Tokyo – You heard of Street Kart – the go-karts flying through Tokyo city centre? Speak English and have a 1949 International Driving Permit and you can apply. I did this for a year and remains the best thing I’ve done in Japan.
Teach English – The Japanese love employing people from overseas to help them learn English. As a result, jobs are in abundance and providing you can speak English, you stand a good chance of being eligible. A degree can certainly help to get the job, but it’s not strictly essential. Plus, you can always do some private tuition if you’re a real go-getter.

I am eligible! How do I apply?

It’s really simple and really cheap, unlike some of the other working holiday visas. Click on the link below to get started. The most difficult thing is making sure you can prove you have enough money saved.

The application for the visa must be made to Embassies or Consulates-General of Japan in your country/region or Interchange Association (Taipei Office or Kaohsiung Office).

I’m not eligible, but this sounds so great. Are there any other options?

Japan does accept many foreigners every year to come and work here, not for holidays as such, but as a career move. The most common by far is coming to work here as an English Teacher and you can do this through private companies such as Gaba, Kids Duo or Nova, or through the JET Programme which recruits on a large scale for state schools throughout Japan. Click here to learn more.

These companies can sponsor you for the working visa you’ll need, but you usually do need a degree in order to qualify for the visa. There is no age limit though, so if you’re serious and don’t currently qualify, get to night school and earn that degree – it doesn’t matter what degree it is, so study something you’re interested in like Japan Studies…or pottery!

Next Steps…

The links above will send you to the right place. Send us an email if you have any questions, and get learning a few basic phrases.

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