No, I don’t mean you should ask yourself whether or not it is technically possible for you to work in Japan (after jumping through a series of hoops of various sizes and filling in an array of forms), but rather I mean that you should stop and ask yourself, ‘is Japan right for me?’.
If you decided to walk down the long winding path towards employment in Japan, make no mistake there will be many obstacles and challenges along the way. It will not be an easy path, and to keep ones ‘eye on the prize’ may test your resolve on more than one occasion. Therefore supposing upon running this gauntlet and then after reaching your destination you find that the reality is not what you expected, well (apart from wasting vast amounts of time and money) the disappointment would be immense.
So before we go ahead let’s take a few minutes out to step back and say
When you are job hunting one thing that you will no doubt do is research about a company. It might be the company that you are applying to, its competitors or just somewhere you have an interest in. For anyone new to job hunting this entire process can seem rather daunting, even more so for a Japanese company as much of the material and resources will be in Japanese.
What is even crazier is that if you are going to a job fair such as the Boston Career Forum, then there is a chance you will be applying to 10s of companies. That is a whole lotta research!
However there are many sites and steps you can use to simplify the entire process. Trying to think of a good Kibō dōki(reason for applying)? How about reading exactly what the guys put down that got hired, sounds like some pretty juicy info eh. Not too sure if you will fit in the company and if there is a lot of Zangyō (overtime)? All this information, as well as a companies values, strategy and its entire recruitment process can be easily found on-line if you know where to look.
So far all you job hunting wanna be workers out there I am going to introduce my top sites and own personal method of how I do research on a company. Use it, improve it, ignore it, I don’t mind, but hopefully it will help a few of you out there! Either way it worked for me!
I never intended to do an internship after finishing university. I wanted to get back to Japan ASAP and work at a Japanese company. I wanted to taste the real Japanese working culture and take my Japanese above the N1 level, and at the time I thought the only way to do this was by working at a Japanese company full time. If that was not possible, then working at a foreign company in Japan would be the next best thing.
The only thing I didn’t realize was just how crazy hard it would turn out to be to find a full time job in Japan while being in a completely different country. I had this totally unjustified belief that all it would take is a few e-mails here, then some skype interviews there and companies would be falling all over themselves to sign me up. Unsurprisingly, I was completely wrong.
I can always recall one of my earliest childhood memories of my “awakening” to Japan as a “modern country”, and not just as a land of the rising sun full of ninjas and samurai (TV can be a convincing media).
I was born and raised in the small town of Wednesbury in the UK. A village for most of its existence, when the Industrial revolution picked nearby Birmingham up and propelled it to Industrial “workshop of the world” Wednesbury was swept along in the pandemonium. Soon the banks of canals filled with barges laden fresh with coal for Birmingham’s roaring industries; brimmed to the edge with factories, workshops and steel mills – the modern age had arrived for this small town.
But history was not to be kind to Wednesbury. As fast as Industry had giveth life to the town it took it away. Post-war, as in other areas, British industrial output crumbled under the weight of cheaper foreign imports and factory closures, mass unemployment and mass unenjoyment soon followed. However as soon as the 90s began where once stood steel mills now stood shops, as the old abandoned land which once rang day and night to the sound hammers pounding steel now thronged with the crowds of Middle-England – row upon row of cars filled to impossibility with flat pack furniture and kitchen fittings crawling along the asphalt.
But that’s a story for another time, so let’s return to that 12 year old wide-eyed Wednesbury child – the most exotic thing in his life being an Indian curry. I clearly remember my father telling me about how his friend has been to Japan only to return flabbergasted, astounded by its neon metropolis and futurisms.
“Everything they have is at least 10 years advanced of anything we have over here”
That was it. That was all I needed. Japan from that point on cemented itself into my mind as certain kind of futuristic utopia. Everyday chores need not trouble, as your trusty robot would carry out those tasks. The flow of information is electronically controlled as everyday devices and appliances speak with each other to optimise your daily routines for maximised – Japanese style – efficiency. The age of men was over.
When I first came to Japan I was shocked by all the delicious food. I knew people who had been to Japan raved about how amazing everything was, but being in the UK with very limited knowledge of Japanese food, when someone said ‘Japan’ and ‘food’ in the same sentence all I could think of was sushi and noodles. Yeah I know, me and 99% of the the non Japanese population. Furthermore despite the fact that I had been studying Japanese at university and held an interest in Japan since 15 I was actually very ignorant towards Japanese foods.
I didn’t know what takoyaki, okonomiyaki or oden was. Now for the average Joe not knowing these foods isn’t anything special, but for a self confessed Japan-aholic this is kinda embarrassing. The flip side was when I came in September 2010 for the first time I was blown away by pretty much everything. Biggest surprise being that Japanese curry doesn’t taste a thing like the Indian curry I had been pretty much brought up on (my family LOVES CURRY!).
My class and I were always told before going to Japan that we would lose weight. That every year people go and come back lighter than when they went. After our year abroad and everyone was back in the UK, the majority of people had indeed lost a fair few pounds. Most people looked pretty damn slim and healthy. I say most people because I actually put weight on in Japan. Nothing big, nothing even that noticeable to other people, but the scales don’t lie, I was heavier than before I went. Did I care at the time? Nope. The food in Japan is amazing, and not just the Japanese food. You have high quality and delicious Korean, Chinese and Italian food here too just to name a few. 10 months of gorging on ramen, pasta, curry and sushi (often tabehoudai (all you can eat) together with nomihoudai (all you can drink best/worst invention in the world!) had resulted in the gain in weight. Many of the main social activities in Japan centering around food and drinking in some way.
Upon returning to the UK and not having the same temptation/opportunity to just go to the city at any time meet some friends and have a food/alcohol orgy like I did before, I had a much healthier eating lifestyle. Me and my roommate would often try food related challenges such as ‘Vegetarian Month’ (Fegebruary anyone? Best name ever!). I had also started running, actually to the point where my big toenail fell off, fun times. Going back to Japan in September 2012 at age 22, I was a lot fitter than the time I left and was looking forward to sampling all the cuisine that Japan had to offer again. However I vowed that this time I would make an effort to cook more and have a ‘healthier’ diet. Boy, did I fail!