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Japan is an excellent and rewarding place to live and work and all major cities in Japan have significant populations of expats doing just that. Teaching English is still the most common job for Westerners, but bartending, hostessing, modelling and various writing/editorial jobs are also possible.

The key to success in Japan is doing your homework and presenting yourself properly. You will definitely need a proper outfit for interviews, a stack of meishi (business cards) and the right attitude. If you don’t have a university degree, you won’t be eligible for most jobs that qualify you for a work visa. Any qualification, like an English-teaching qualification, will be a huge boost.

Finally, outside of the entertainment, construction and English-teaching industries, you can’t expect a good job unless you speak good Japanese (any more than someone could expect a job in your home country without speaking the lingua franca).

Make it happen

Business hours

Department stores usually open at 10am and close at 6.30pm or 7pm daily (with one or two days off each month). Smaller shops are open similar hours but may close on Sunday. Large companies usually work from 9am to 5pm weekdays and some also operate on Saturday morning.

Banks are open 9am to 3pm weekdays.

Restaurants are usually open from 11am to 2pm and from 6pm to 11pm, with one day off per week, usually Monday or Tuesday. Some stay open all afternoon. Cafés are usually open 11am until 11pm, with one day off per week, usually Monday or Tuesday. Bars usually open around 5pm and stay open until the wee hours.

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