Daily Archives: October 22, 2016
- Pop Culture
- Time in Japan
- Tokyo Things To Do
Japan has a well-developed medical system of high standard, even in small towns. It might be hard at times to find English-speaking healthcare professionals though outside the big cities. Even in Tokyo, if you cannot fluently converse in Japan, options are limited, but available. “St. Luke's Hospital“ and the “Roppongi Midtown Clinic“ are two English-speaking hospitals in Tokyo that feature many medical specialties. As the prescription drugs sold in Japan are mostly made in Japan by Japanese pharmaceutical companies, and foreign medicines are not available, medication might considerably differ from the one you might be familiar with. Almost all drugs need a prescription and there are very few ones you can just buy at a drugstore. If you regularly need prescription drugs, we advise you to bring them from home for your whole duration of stay. Also bring the actual prescription with you, to proof that they are for your personal use. You might be asked at customs to show this. No vaccinations are required by law to enter Japan. Japanese encephalitis, a viral infection transmitted by mosquito bites, might be a risk in the countryside during the summer months (May to October). If you plan to stay in rural areas (e.g. doing farmwork) during these months, you might decide to get vaccinated against it.
As of April 2018, the airports in Japan where you can get your Residence Card on arrival are if you are holding a Working Holiday Visa are Kansai (Osaka), Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Chūbu (Aichi), New Chitose (Sapporo), Hiroshima and Fukuoka.
Requirement 1: Have a Japanese bank account for your salary If during your Working Holiday you want to do remunerated work, you typically need a Japanese bank account, as employers don't pay out salaries in cash or to foreign bank accounts. There are only a few banks in Japan that open bank accounts for foreigners from the beginning of your stay. Most banks won't do it at all and some only after you have spent at least 6 months in Japan. The banks that open accounts from the beginning of your stay have further restrictions about new accounts, e.g. usually you cannot transfer funds from outside of Japan to your Japanese account within the first 6 months of your stay. Requirement 2: Bring a Credit Card from home So to avoid you have to bring a lot of money in cash and in order to cover your living expenses before you get paid out for the first time, which usually happens on a monthly base after having done the work, it is advisable to bring a credit card from your home country with you. You also need a Credit Card in order to get a mobile phone contract. At some, but not all mobile phone providers this can be a foreign credit card. There is no chance for anyone who is on a Working Holiday visa to get a Japanese credit card. Also it important to know that many ATMs don't accept foreign Credit Cards, even if they have the VISA or Mastercard logo. They only work with VISA and Mastercards issued in Japan. At areas where there are usually many tourists, you can find ATMs accepting foreign-issued credit cards (and even some foreign debit cards such as Maestro and Visa Plus), and also at Japan Postbank and 7Eleven Convenience stores.
Living costs in Japan and especially in Tokyo are known to be among the world's highest. Japanese apartment sizes are usually smaller than in most other industrialized nations. In Japanese big cities, you will find modern skyscrapers and residential complexes, which are of very high standard and technologically very advanced, but there are also many houses, which look relatively simple and old-fashioned, if not to say „shabby“. For many Japanese, housing seems not to be a priority, and they prefer to spend their money on other things, such as food or cars. Anyway, even the small and „old“ houses in Tokyo are very expensive to buy or rent, as space is very limited and demand is high. However, there are ways to enjoy Tokyo without spending a fortune. The following accommodation options are feasibile for those who are on a Working Holiday: Share Houses “Share Houses“ are simply put, houses that you share with others. Even for many (young) Japanese, it is very common to live in a share house. They prefer it to staying at a small apartment on their own, because it is not only cheaper, but also offers other amenities, such as shared installations, common areas, and getting to know like-minded people. The term "social housing" exists in Japan, meaning that you share the house with other people of the same interest, e.g. "Rock music". Such houses would then have for instance a common collection of records or music instruments. There are several chains of share house companies in Japan. Some chains manage hundreds to thousands of small single-family houses with 4-5 rooms. You would share bathroom, kitchen and living room with the others sharing the house with you. These houses are often old-fashioned or even not well maintained in terms of sanitary installations, furniture, interiour design etc. Some other chains run large houses with 50-100 rooms that typically previously belonged to large companies that used these buildings for their employees. Such share houses exist from simple standard to luxury standard. The luxury share houses even have shared movie theater rooms, libraries etc. Share houses sometimes have quotas of how many Japanese and how many Westerners they want to accept. A dorm bed at a share house in central Tokyo is about 45,000-60,000 JPY per month. Single rooms are between 80,000-100,000 JPY. Cheaper options exist, but are often either very tiny, of very low standard, or you would have to share the dorm room with 12 or more people. If you stay in Yokohama, Saitama, Chiba or in the very West of Tokyo prefacture, rents are around 25-30% cheaper, but if you have to commute to central Tokyo every day for your work or language lessons, you don't really save, as commuting expenses apply (and commuting times of 60-90 minutes one-way). In other larger cities (e.g. Osaka, Nagoya) the rents are similar, but the rooms might be more spacious than in Tokyo. In smaller cities or in the country side, Share Houses might not exist. Host families Staying with a host family gives you the opportunity to practice your Japanese language skills and to get first-hand cultural learning experiences. On weekdays the Japanese host family usually offers you breakfast and dinner, whereas on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) they also provide lunch. Typical host families are usually composed of parents in their 20s or 30s with one or two small children, or they are in their 50s or 60s when their children have already left the parental household. Usually you don't find host families in central Tokyo as spaces are too limited to accommodated guests, but they would rather live in Chiba, Yokohama, or Saitama, Staying with a host family would typically cost you around 80,000-85,000 JPY per month. If you work or attend language lessons in central Tokyo, you would have to add commuting costs. Apartments In Japan, as a foreigner who stays for a limited duration of time only, it is not so easy to rent an apartment on your own. The reasons are that first, usually many landlords won't rent to foreigners as they expect language barriers, cultural differences etc. that just seem to much unnecessary complication to them if they can also rent to a Japanese. Second, landlords usually want to see that you have an unlimted fully salaried work contract, that you won't have if you are on a Working Holiday. Third, the minimum contract duration of renting an apartment in Japan is typically one full year. Fourth, you would have to pay a high procuration fee (reikin) to the real estate agent, which doesn't make too much sense if you stay for a relatively short time only. Fifth, most apartments come unfurnished, so you would have to buy all of your furniture.
What about the finances? As the salaries in Japan are relatively attractive, it is possible to finance your entire trip including living and travel expenses through the work you do in Japan. Many people achieve to even save some money, for instance to travel around and explore Japan or neighbouring Asian countries. However, you need some money before starting your trip, because when applying for the visa you need to have a flight ticket and you need to proof you have an amount of around 1500-2000 EUR/USD (depending on your nationality). You should be able to cover your living expenses for at least 1-2 months, just in case you don't find a job immediately. Let's have a look at the finances in detail! On the cost side, you have to consider: Your flight to Japan and back (you can use a flight comparison website to check rates) Rent for your accommodation: A dorm bed at a share house is usually around 45,000-60,000 JPY per month, a single room around 80,000-100,000 JPY. If you find considerably cheaper options in central Tokyo, room sizes are usually extremely tiny, the standard is poor, or they pack many people into a dorm room. You can find cheaper accommodation if you are willing to commute for around 60-90 minutes, but in this case you will have higher commuting expenses, which means you will probably not save a lot. Food and other living expenses (e.g. public transport). For Tokyo you should calculate with a minimum of around 280 EUR/300 USD per month (if your accommodation and job are in central Tokyo) Travel health insurance (around 40-50 EUR/USD per month) The services of an organization helping you: World Unite! for instance charge a one-time service package fee of 800 EUR/ 880 USD. The services included will definitely help you not only to save time to make all arrangements, pre-arrival and in Japan, but might help you to actually save money in Japan by avoiding (costly) mistakes, by finding cheaper accommodation, by getting membership terms on cheaper food on wholesale, and by helping you to find a job quickly. On the „income“ side, with the typical Working Holiday jobs, you will make (in Tokyo) between 890 and 1500 JPY per hour. So if you work part-time (28 hours per week), that’s around 100,000 to 170,000 JPY per month. If you work full-time (40 hours per week), we’re talking about 140,000 to 240,000 JPY per month. If you have a good level of Japanese and/or some professional qualification (particular IT or engineering-related, or as a professional teacher of English as a foreign language), you can make a higher hourly salary than the range stated above. With the help of an organization, it is realistic for most participants to find a job within their first month, so you should have enough money to cover one month without any job while doing job hunting. Now you can calculate how long it will take you to „break even“, which usually happens in the 4th month. So, from this moment your total earnings will exceed the total costs and many participants are actually able to save money that they can then use to travel around or to take back home.
The Working Holiday Visa The “Working Holiday Visa“ is currently available if at the time of application you are 18-30 Years old and if you are a citizen of the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, France, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Slowakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Argentina, Chile, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. Citizens of Australia, Canada and South Korea can get the visa if they are 18-25 years old. You will have to prove a certain amount of money on your bank account, which might be lower if you hold a round way ticket and higher if you only have a one-way flight ticket to Japan. The exact amount differs depending on your nationality. It is typically in the range of 1500-2500 Euros/USD. Also, you can not be accompanied by dependents or children, you should be in good health and not have any criminal records. Please check the exact visa requirements on the website of the Japanese embassy of your country. With the Working Holiday Visa you can accept any remunerated job in Japan, except for jobs that "affect public morale in Japan", which include jobs in the gambling industry, and in bars, nightclubs or any other establishments where services related to the sex industry are offered, even if you are doing some other type of work at such establishment (e.g. if there are sex workers present at a bar, you are not allowed to clean there or to sell drinks etc.). With the Working Holiday Visa in your passport, you will get a Residence Card on arrival at the airport in Japan. Alternative options For nationalities and age groups that cannot get the Working Holiday Visa, an alternative solution to do something similar to a Working Holiday can be the use of a Student Visa. You can get a Student Visa if you enroll for at least 20 hours per week in Japanese language lessons at a Language School that is accredited to apply for Certificates of Elegibility for a Student Visa. The language school can then also apply for a Work Permit for you, which is usually granted if you get a Student Visa. This Work Permit allows you to work for up to 28 hours per week. These 28 hours are calculated as an average, so you can for instance, during your language lesson's semester breaks work full time, and then work a lower amount of hours while you take the language lessons. You can for instance book language lessons with World Unite! in order to get your Student Visa with Work Permit and then make use of their Working Holiday support services.
Learning Japanese at a language school The most intensive and fastest method to improve your Japanese language skills, is to join a language course at a language school. Attending a language course can be your main reason to travel to Japan, or you can also add some language lessons to your Working Holiday or Au Pair experience. Many nationalities can book Japanese language lessons at formal language schools for up to 90 days (but not get involved in remunerated work) on a regular Temporary Visitor Status that they get granted for free on arrival in Japan. Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein can easily extend this status by another 90 days once in Japan. If you are of different nationality or you plan to come to Japan for language lessons longer than the time you get Temporary Visitor Status for OR if you wish to finance your stay in Japan through part-time work in Japan, this is possible on a Student Visa. Some (but not all) language schools are accredited to apply for Certificates of Elegibility to get you a Student Visa. With the Student Visa you can stay in Japan for as long as you are enrolled at full-time language lessons and you can also apply for a Work Permit, allowing you to work for up to 28 hours per week. These 28 hours per week are calculated as an average during your whole duration of stay, so you can for instance work full-time during a semester break and then work less hours while you are attending language lessons. Language schools offer the most intensive and effective way of learning Japanese. Besides attending lessons, you are expected to do our homework, and most language schools proceed at a relatively fast pace, so you need to put effort into studying the language. Book language lessons in Tokyo now! Which other options exist to learn Japanese in Japan? Other options besides formal language schools are to attend Community Centres and to learn Japanese with a Tandem Partner. Community Centres offer low-cost language lessons, offered by volunteers. There are language lessons targeting foreigners living in Japan, wanting to learn Japanese. They are offering classes around 1-3 times per weeks. Often it is necessary to prove that you are a resident of the ward where the community centre is located to be allowed to join the lessons at the Community Centre, so this option is not possible if you are on a Temporary Visitor Status. A Tandem Partner is a Japanese person who wants to learn your native language and in exchange teaches you some Japanese.
An internship in Japan is an investment into your professional future Internships are usually done by students or graduates to get practical work experience, applying the theory they learn at university in a real life work environment. Many students want to do an internship abroad to expand their global and intercultural skills. Unfortunately, the idea of doing a student internship is not very common in Japan. Japanese students, while attending university usually don't aim at getting practical work experience, but they learn about real work only after graduation when entering a company at an entry-level position. It is still the idea of many of them to stay with the same company thoroughout their professional life. As a consequence, many Japanese companies, particularly those with a more traditional mindset, don't see the point why a student wants to be with them for a limited duration of time only, and they don't see the reason why to spend effort into training someone who would leave after short time anyway. As a consequence, it can be really difficult to arrange an internship in Japan. There are agencies that arrange internships in Japan, but you need to expect to pay a relatively high amount of money to use their services. Also, internships in Japan are often not paid, or companies only pay a small living support such as reimbursing your commuting or accommodation costs. With the visa categories issued for internships (e.g. Cultural Activities Visa) it is also legally not allowed to have an income in Japan. It is usually not possible to finance your trip, living expenses and possibly ageny placement fees with the stipend you get for your internship. You should therefore see an internship in Japan as an investment into your professional future.