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Advice and information please.

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  • Advice and information please.

    I am planning to live in Tokyo for up to 12 months. My main intention is to study martial arts. The place where I'll be training has lessons all throughout the week, mornings and early evenings. My main reason for going to Japan is not for work.

    My questions to everyone is, what kind of employment is there that will give me a good level of flexibility to do what I want and yet have enough money to live on.

    I have a masters degree in aeronautical engineering and am in full time employment with an engineering company in the UK.

    They are willing to let me take a career break for up to one year and I will be able to reenter the company on leaving Japan.

    Any advice out there? I will attempt to get sponsorship etc. to assist me, but should I have an amount of money saved up to take out there too.

    I went to Tokyo two summers' ago and stayed with a friend's parents. That friend of mine (from uni course) had said that I could stay with her parents and could also keep her dad company (she is an only child and studies in the UK).

    But I'm not sure if she was only being polite; I shall be asking her again though. Also, I am not sure if I would be asking too much from her parents. I can however offer to work for them as they own a flower business.

    Anyone want to have a stab at this question?

    Much appreciated.


    Post Edited (01-28-04 21:04)

  • #2
    Re: Advice and information please.

    Ill take a crack

    assuming you will come to Japan on a culture visa, you will be able to work part time up to 20 hours a week. Your visa will likely need to be sponsored by the school you study at.

    What kind of employment is available depends on the hours, what kind of work you want to do. With no Japanese your options are limited and most people end up teahcing English. Im not sure about the possibility or legalities of working in a flower business, as long as its part time and not your main purpose for being in Japan it should be OK.

    No idea about the parents- best idea would be to run it by her again as well as the parents. Have a back up plan in case things dont work out. Maybe language will be the biggest difficulty, i dont know. You could offer tol pay board, help with housework or contribute in some way. Often elderly people like company, and they may feel a sense of obligation as you helped their daughter when living overseas.

    How much you need will depend on a number of factors- rent is usually the most expensive and you can cut it down by living with her family. I would expect you would need at least 1500-2000 pounds a month to live on- the average eikaiwa teacher makes about 250,000 yen a month and can save 70,000 yen a month after expenses. For more info on prices in Tokyo go to


    • #3
      Re: Advice and information please.

      From the UK, you could get a Working Holiday Visa for a year, and be able to work as a teacher, barman, etc with it. But if you are training so much, it does not leave you much opportunity to work, e.g. peak hours for bars are evenings, teaching can be most of the day and evenings, and any "regular" job would require 9-6 type hours. Weekend work/ teaching possible but harder to get.

      A flower business - well you'd need to be able to speak Japanese to deal with customers, so that would leave cleaning, stocking and possibly delivery work. Anything else, need Japanese language, except may the token gaijin in a hotel or something, but they would require a minimum of hours. Local private lessons in afternoon might be possible.

      Stay with friend's family - probably a genuine offer, but after a few weeks, you'll all be rather frustrated, as you will be out most of the time, training or working. Might be OK for a start in Japan.

      Maybe best to bring as much money as possible, look for weekend work, and balance training with some weektime work.

      Good luck



      • #4
        Re: Advice and information please.

        JET programme is an option, but the application process is long.

        Teaching English has already been advised, and I'd second that option.

        Engineering options with little to no Japanese skills are practically nil unless you find a non-Japanese company in Japan, and even then they would probably be expecting you to stay on longer than a year. Contact STAG for some other ideas.


        • #5
          Re: Advice and information please.

          Thank you all for your advice.

          I have spoken with my sensei and a friend from my dojo who studied for two terms at todai (sp?) university.

          They both said that I should aim for some sort of research grant. Maybe perhaps in the study of Japanese culture and martial arts (both old and new).

          Here's another bit of information I found out last night. The place where I'll be training is the Shiseikan within the meiji jingu park. Their ethos as well as the headmasters, is to learn and improve through education (or something like that). So they would all find it strange if I just turned up for six months to a year and said that I was only doing aikido and kenjutsu.

          Also, my sensei said that I should aim for to do some research work / education etc, as it gives me a direction whilst I'm there and I could benifit in terms of my career (not in wealth).

          With that in mind, I may get more interest from the teachers at Shiseikan and possibly help from them in some way or other.

          I was also told by the said friend (she was doing some medical research I think) that most employers are very excited when they find out that their foreign employees are studing martial arts and let them have more time off to pursue that. Is that true?

          As for the "flower business", I know that with my limited japanese language, I'd be stacking shelves and manual labour. But that is ok. Good training for me anyway.

          Trip_hop, your comment about staying with the parents is very true. I could ask them for some help in the initial stages of arriving there then find my own accomodations. Maybe perhaps a gaijin house.

          In fact, can anyone tell me about gaijin house accomodations?

          Local private language lessons is a good idea. I shall remember that.

          Paulh, £2000 per week to live on! Isn't that too much? I plan to live a very frugal lifestyle. Clubbing and generally getting off my face is not a top priority, and since that takes up most money, I should be ok...

          One final thing, the engineering company I work for is in the field of defence, so I may try and get sponsorship from them as well to see how they can support me. But that is a long shot.

          I know I've rambled on but thank you all for your support.


          • #6
            Re: Advice and information please.

            1) Care with your maths - 250,000\/ month is around 1,300 GBP per month!

            2) Ask everyone for sponsorship, if you don't ask - you'll never get, but make sure that you can offer something back to them when you return to the UK. Demonstration of new techniques, lecture talk/ photos on Japan, so that they are not just donating money, they are investing in you. Emphasis what you plan to achieve and what it can do for them.

            3) So many foreigners doing martial arts - no big deal nowadays. First you finish your work, then you can leave! Don't forget the Japanese economy is in a state of recession.

            4) just search on the net for gaijin houses, and look at some of the classifieds such as; or There is also a bit here on some other forums. for teaching, there are other websites which deal with jobs, look under the teaching forum - sorry not my area.



            • #7
              Re: Advice and information please.

              Sounds fun. I think you'll have a good time. Worrying about eating and getting by will all be part of the adventure. It's fun in hindsight, and as long as it is never truly life-threatening.

              Gaijin houses... well, if austerity is what you're after...



              • #8
                Re: Advice and information please.

                Been doing some more research.

                I came across the NOVA school. Yes, I have read about the comments surrounding this school from both sides.

                My question is, how flexible is their part-time work? Is there a lot of demand for part-timers at the moment?

                Will it be enough to live on?

                If you can think of anything else, then post it please.



                • #9
                  Re: Advice and information please.

                  My question is, how flexible is their part-time work?

                  Is there a lot of demand for part-timers at the moment?

                  Seeing as there are about 250 schools, about 5000 teachers at NOVA we dont know where and when you wnat to work, I dont think anyone can answer that question.

                  Will it be enough to live on?

                  Assuming you are working part time, working only at NOVA and living in a big city, earning 180,000 yen a month- it depends. Whats your rent, living expenses, do you have any debts or loans, whats your idea of a social life? Expect to break even and not save any money on a PT income. Full time you can save 60-70,000 yen a month after expenses