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Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 4672
Location: Western Japan

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2003 1:14 pm    Post subject: Answers to your FAQs Reply with quote


I recently responded to a young Australian thinking of coming to Japan on a WH visa. rather than repeat myself I will just put in the important bits of what I wrote:


I work and live in Kyoto and I just want to make you aware of a couple of things:

2. As the above poster mentioned there are only a few language schools in Kyoto (about 20 that I know of) most will require a degree, thought its possible to work part time on a WHV. I can send you a list of schools in Kyoto if you are interested .

Keep in mind that Japan is awash in teachers with university degrees (a visa requirement, nota job qualification), many have Masters degrees (including myself) and even phDs whom you are competing for jobs with.

I also forgot to mention that in order to get a working holiday visa that allows you to work in japan you need to show evidence of funds (cash TC or credit card) showing that you are able to supprt yourself while in Japan. Even after you arrive here it may take you a while to find a job and you may not get paid for up to six weeks. If you are from New Zealand I would suggest you bring at least $NZ3-4,000

Coming to Japan you will be competing against teachers with Masters degrees and Bachelors degrees. Most teachers here not only have degrees but are experienced language teachers and many have professional training, and that is what schools are asking for nowadays (as yo need a degree to get a work visa)

Of course everyone has to start somewhere re gaining experience and qualifications but I just want to let you know what you are up against and what you can expect when you get here. Tourist visa and WHV holders are quite low on the pecking order of things with too many qualified
teachers here chasing after too few jobs.

Come on the WH visa, make sure you bring enough cash with you and experience the culture and language etc and you shouldnt have too many problems.

"hhhmmm, I see, thanks for the advice. Do you think it would be better for me to try my luck in Osaka? Or even Gifu?
I do have enough money for a WHV, $5000 saved up. I'm just not too sure about how I should fill out the itinerary...I don't know where I'm going to work yet...It's hard, because I always see conflicting ideas on teaching in Japan. Lot's of people always say how easy it is to get work, even with out a degree, and how they save all this money up, and then the other lot always state how heavy the competition is, and how hard it is to find jobs when you are degreeless. So I don't know what to think. I think I should just take my chances and jump straight into the deep end, and try my luck in the Osaka/Kyoto are....I do know that I don't want to wait for another two years, but at the same time I don't want to end up on the street and stranded. aahhh @[email protected] "

IMO I think it will be pretty much the same anywhere on a WHV. You may pick up jobs but they pay less, they may be in inconvenient locations, or they want you to teach 3 year olds. Working on a working holiday visa can still leave you exposed to exploitation, non payment of wages, strange deductions and all other kinds of problems.

I recently wrote a post to someone about what to write on the itinerary for WHV

Immigration does not want a blow by blow day by day account of where you will be when you are in Japan. They dont check once you get the visa The working holiday visa is meant as a travelling holiday, working so you can pay your way through Japan, not to find a semi permanent position. If you say you have a job lined up on a working holiday visa for instance, they may refuse to give you the visa. All they are interested in is that you can support yourself, you wont go on the dole or land up in hospital with a huge hospital bill and be a burden on the tax payer.

With a WHV you are free to look around, you are not tied to one sponsor and you can leave whenever you wish, provided you give adequate notice
It may take you a while to find something, but if you confine yourself to Kyoto you may be disappointed. My advice would be, if you want to be close to your girlfriend, is to consider other areas close to kyoto like Nara, Shiga, and some of the places between Kyoto and Osaka (remember Osaka is a prefecture which is as big in area as sydney, while there are many 'cities' including the city of Osaka, within Osaka prefecture..

To to put a spin on some of the questions you ask (and I have been teaching here 15 years)

"Lot's of people always say how easy it is to get work"

If you have a degree, if you have a work visa, if you have experience, if you apply at the right time, if you are the right nationality.... it depends on a myriad of factors. I know of people searching for 2 months in Tokyo and cant find a job. It depends on what you yourself bring to the table.

when you mean "work" what do you mean? working full time at NOVA pulling in a 250,000 yen a month salary? Or teaching 5 year olds part time for 1,000 yen an hour? there is plenty of work. It depends on what your asking rate is and what you are prepared to accept, and whether you are able to work. 50% of NOVA teachers quit within a year because of the hours and working conditions.

Have a look at the types of jobs available check out or

Most will ask for a degree (for the visa) though many will ask for Japanese residency as well.

"even with out a degree, and how they save all this money up,"

How many hours a week were they teaching? What were they being paid?How much did they save per month? what were there living expenses? How much rent did they pay?

On a 250,000 yen a month salary you can expect to save after expenses (rent, food utilities) about $US500 or $AUS 700. That does not include things like student loans, health and travel insurance, outstanding credit card debt, apartment key money or airfare. Japan is not a cheap country to live in, and living in Kyoto costs more than in Osaka. City tax alone last year (based on my income) I paid over AUS$4000.
alot will depend on your spending habits, whether you eat out every night and want to party, or if you are more frugal.

To a person arriving for the first time in Japan it can seem like a lot of money, especially when you change it into dollars or think about the excahnge rate all the time. When you earn in yen and spend in yen its a different story and it doesnt go as far.

Part time I would daresay you would cover your expenses or run at a loss every month.

If you spend a 40 hour week at a conversation school (NOVA teachers finish work at 9 or 10 pm) all you do teach privates or moonlight a second job you could make up to 300-350,000 yen a month but your whole time would be taken up by working and teaching. No time to travel and see the country, no time to learn japanese, no time to spend with your girlfriend. Do you want to do these things or to make money? You can usually do one or or the other, not both, so it depends on what your goals and motivation are.

and then the other lot always state how heavy the competition is, and how hard it is to find jobs when you are degreeless.

Like I said, the degree is not necessary to get a job. You can work on a spouse visa, a dependents visa, a culture visa or permanent resident. if you want to get a sponsored instructors visa allowing you to work full-time you will need a degree and there are plenty of people here with degrees and experience who can not find jobs. I teach in the university field in Japan, and I applied for a job at a university where all the applicants had Masters degrees and teaching experience. Over 100 applied for 3 places.
Guys who tell you they can save a lot of money on a working holiday visa are probably lying or exaggerating. Its hard enough making ends meet on a full time salary at NOVA and thats not something most people continue with for more than a year or two.
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Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2003 11:43 pm    Post subject: age Reply with quote

If Paul doesn't answer you right away, Ted, it's because he's out of the country till March, starting today.

In lieu of that, let me hit the age thing a little.

Many eikaiwas want younger people, those in their 20's and early 30's. This is mostly for an image to their students, but in some insidious cases it helps the company because the young teachers are unaware of various regulations and such, so the company can get away with certain unscrupulous rules and contracts.

However, people in their late 30's and up can also find jobs in eikaiwas. I did at 41, along with my co-worker at 43. We were both renewed for 3 years. People older than us have found such work, too. A lot depends on your attitude and presentation.

Other types of teaching institutions have little qualms for hiring people in their 30's or older, despite what rumors have been going around this industry. I currently work for a private high school with half a dozen foreign teachers, and the youngest one is 32 (oldest is me at 46).

Paul's experience with universities is greater than mine, but let me just say this. There seem to be two groups of universities. Some are very strict and require teachers to be less than 35 years old. I don't know if this is the majority of universities or not. The other type, obviously, allows people up to 55 to apply. Bear in mind one thing here. If I'm not mistaken, the main reason for this age limitation at the university is because of the direct relationship between age and salary. Obviously, schools want to pay as little as they can get by on.

For the people who want to teach part-time and/or privately, age is not a factor as far as I can tell. You work the streets as hard as anyone else, and you take the little gigs as they come along, or you make your own. Personality counts for a lot here, not the number of candles on your birthday cake.

Lastly, there IS a problem with age related to visas. People applying for a working holiday visa (whether you have a degree or not) must be 18 to 30 years old. And, for JET program applicants, the upper age limit just rose to about 41, so 35 is no longer the ceiling. That said, remember that this JET ceiling is somewhat flexible, according to JET officials I have spoken to. In fact, one even told me that she wished there was a way to hire MORE people in their 40's and 50's because they have more life experience to impart to the students, and that's a major role in the JET program.
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