Teach English Japan
Americans in Japan: The Working Visa Situation for Americans Currently Living Outside Japan
Teach English Japan: Trying to Land a Job Upon Arrival
"U.S. citizens planning to work in Japan should never enter Japan using a tourist visa or the visa waiver, even if they have been advised to do so. Such actions are illegal and can lead to arrest, incarceration and/or deportation."
--from a pamphlet at the Japanese consulate in Seattle
However, it does happen:
"Many Britons and North Americans enter with a temporary visitor`s stamp (valid for three months), find a job and sponsor then apply for a work visa.."
--Susan Griffith, "Teaching English Abroad"
Picture of Fujisawa by Richard Baladad
If you are going to come without a job, the question becomes how long is it going to take to find a job?
Japan can be a very expensive place if you are having to travel around going to job interviews.
It is probably a good idea to get out of Tokyo and try your job search in one of the smaller cities ie) Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima or Fukuoka--to get away from the competition of other foreigners.
Most land at Narita and start their job search in Tokyo. You will increase your chances by being different.
Another catch is, that in cases when an institution needs a teacher quickly, it is more difficult for Americans outside of Japan to find work in Japan, as it takes longer to secure a working visa than it does to obtain a working holiday visa. Unlike Canada for example, America doesn`t have a working holiday visa agreement with Japan.
Quite a few schools are still not willing to sponsor you for a working visa, preferring teachers who already have the appropriate visa.
Canadians and other Commonwealth citizens aged 30 or under can get a working holiday visa for Japan in as little as three days! Americans cannot do so.
Americans are penalized as their nation does not have a working holiday visa agreement with Japan.
Americans do switch from a tourist visa to a working visa, however this is illegal if your intention was to go to Japan to work (and not sightsee). As Susan Griffith points out above though, it often happens.
I too, know of many people who have done this. Often schools need a teacher in a hurry--even the best of schools.
If you do come to Japan without a working holiday visa or a work visa, a good place to start your job search is the
Kimi Information Centre in Tokyo
While staying at a youth hostel you can exchange information about jobs with other guests
Teach English Japan: check out our other page, for More Information on the Working Holiday Visa Program for Japan
Teach English Japan: Working Holiday Visa
Back to How to teach English in Japan (home)
Americans in Japan: more on working visas.