How to Travel, Work, and Study in Japan on a Working Holiday Visa

Whether you’re interested in exploring the country’s rich cultural heritage, indulging in its delicious cuisine, or simply soaking up the local way of life, you’ll find that Japan has something to offer to everyone. Thanks to Japan’s Working Holiday Visa program, you can have a taste of what’s living and working in Japan like without needing to commit to a full-time job, join a university course, or have a visa sponsor.  

Every year, over 15,000 people come to Japan as part of the country’s Working Holiday Visa program.  This program represents a dream come true for many young people interested in discovering a different and vibrant culture, whether it be exploring Tokyo or experiencing the quiet serenity of the Japanese countryside.

If you want to come to Japan on a Working Holiday Visa, this article will guide you on the main things you need to know to get this visa, including the requirements you need to fulfill, as well as useful information on how to find a job, housing, and other key essentials to start your life in Japan. 

What’s a Working Holiday Visa in Japan? 

Let’s start with some basics—according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the  Working Holiday Visa is “intended to make it possible for the youth of Japan and its partner countries/regions to enter each country/region primarily for the purpose of spending  holidays while allowing them to engage in employment as an incidental activity of their holidays for the purpose of supplementing their travel funds.”

The main keyword here is incidental activity and supplementing travel funds. In other words, while you can engage in paid activities while in the country, the main purpose of this visa is for you to explore the country and enjoy its culture. A working holiday in Japan is designed for foreigners who want to have fun in Japan while they do part-time or freelance to supplement their day-to-day expenses. 

Working holiday programs are bilateral agreements Japan made with specific countries, in which Japanese people can work in that country under the same visa type, too. The Working Holiday Program was first launched in 1980, with Australia being the first country to benefit from it. As of 2023, the program has been expanded to 26 countries and regions. Every year, about 15,000 individuals benefit from it, according to Japan’s Foreign  Ministry. 

For more reference, head to the working holiday page on MOFA Japan’s website.

Am I Eligible for a Working Holiday Visa in Japan?

The Working Holiday Visa allows you to work in Japan during the duration of your visa to supplement your travels in the country. You don’t need a sponsor to apply and can do it directly from your home country. However, you can only apply if you have a passport from one of the 26 listed countries that take part in this program. 

 As of 2023, here is the updated list, as divulged by the Foreign Ministry of Japan: 

  1. Australia 
  2. New Zealand 
  3. Canada 
  4. Denmark 
  5. France 
  6. Germany 
  7. Ireland 
  8. New Zealand 
  9. Norway 
  10. South Korea 
  11. United Kingdom 
  12. Hong Kong SAR 
  13. Taiwan 
  14. Portugal 
  15. Poland 
  16. Slovakia 
  17. Austria 
  18. Hungary 
  19. Spain 
  20. Argentina 
  21. Chile 
  22. Iceland 
  23. Czech 
  24. Lithuania 
  25. Sweden 
  26. Estonia 

Also, there are a few other preconditions. First, you must be between 18 and 30 years of age, both inclusive, at the visa application time. For Australia, Canada, and the Republic of Korea, an applicant should be between 18 and 25 years of age, except in those cases where the competent authorities of Japan agree to extend the age limitation to 30 years. If you are from  Iceland, you can only apply between 18 and 26 years of age.

You can’t come accompanied by children or other dependents. This means you can’t sponsor your spouse or family to come to Japan.

Next, you must present a return travel ticket or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket. The other thing would be needing to prove to have enough funds to support your stay in the country.

 Finally, the last one might sound obvious, but you have to be in good health. 

How to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa in Japan? 

To apply, you need to directly contact the Embassy or Japan’s Consulate in your country.  In most cases, you must apply in person from your country of citizenship. Even though, there are some differences between countries, here is some basic documentation that you need to prepare: 

  • A copy of your passport. 
  • A completed Visa Application form was obtained from Japan’s Embassy in your country.
  • Flight details and proposed itinerary/schedule in Japan. 
  • A statement of purpose. 
  • Proof of good health and proof of funds. 
  • Your updated resume. 

Do I Need a Job to Go to Japan?

No, you don’t need to have a job before applying for this visa—you can start finding employment once arrive in Japan. Keep in mind, however, that you are “strictly prohibited from working at bars, cabarets, nightclubs, gambling establishments, and other premises affecting public morals in Japan,” according to the Foreign Ministry. If you happen to be found engaging in such activities, you could be deported back to your home country, so,  better to follow the rules.  

The good news is besides these prohibited occupations, you are pretty much free to engage in all other types of jobs, which gives you great flexibility to follow your goals and build up your CV while working in Japan. Also, there’s no limit to the number of hours you can work, and you can choose to work part-time or even full-time in Japan.

What You Can Do in Japan During Working Holidays

The Purposes of a Working Holiday Visa
The Purposes of a Working Holiday Visa

The purpose of a Working Holiday visa is for you to have a great time in Japan while doing some side hustle to support this. While applying for this visa, you will need to provide an outline of your intended activities. This should be detailed enough for you to show that you’re truly intending on exploring Japan — visiting onsen towns, skiing in Hokkaido, or sightseeing in Okinawa. 

At the same time, you can make it vague enough to allow for flexibility in your travel plans. You don’t need to show a rundown of your day-to-day schedule!

1. Travel Around Japan

The main purpose of this visa is technically still traveling, so do travel as much as you can and as your budget allows! After all, Japan has plenty to offer, from North to South. 

2. Work!

Most people come to Japan under a Working Holiday visa so they could both work and travel with relative ease. There is no limit on how many hours or days per week or how many months you can work on a Working Holiday Visa in Japan, so you can technically work full-time in Japan.

3. Internship

If you are interested in pursuing an internship in Japan, it’s important to research different programs and companies, as well as prepare your application materials, such as a strong resume and cover letter. With dedication and effort, an internship in Japan can be a truly rewarding experience. A lot of big, international companies in Japan have amazing internship programs.

4. Study Japanese

Studying Japanese is the ultimate way to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Japan! Not only will it help you communicate with the locals and make the most of your working holiday, but it’ll also open doors to exciting new experiences and adventures.

If you are only visiting Tokyo for a few months, it may be hard to find a language school to study Japanese with due to rigid start and finish dates

Coto Academy is the perfect place for foreigners who want to come to Japan on a working holiday visa to learn the language and culture of this fascinating country. You will not only improve your language skills but will also gain a deeper understanding of the customs and traditions of Japan, making your experience in the country more enriching and enjoyable.

How Long Can I Stay in Japan Under a Working Holiday Visa? 

All Working Holiday Visas in Japan are up to one year. Citizens of Australia, Canada, and  New Zealand must, however, extend their visas after six months.  

In principle, you cannot review your Working Holiday Visa after one year. However, you could apply to change your visa into a working visa given certain conditions. The final decision will ultimately depend on the Japanese Immigration Bureau. It’s not uncommon for many foreigners to upstart their Japanese life under a Holiday Working visa to then change to another type of visa, such as a working visa or other types.

For more information, it is better to consult with the local immigration office once in Japan. 

Life in Japan with a Working Holiday Visa

Accommodation in Japan

Finding a place to rent in Japan can be challenging, especially if you are new to the country and don’t have a local support system. Yet, there are several options available to those living in Japan on a Working Holiday Visa.  

One popular option is to use a real estate agency, which can help you find a suitable apartment or house based on your needs and budget. Another option is looking for a place through online listings, such as Suumo or Craigslist. Finding housing through local contacts, such as friends, acquaintances, or language exchange partners, is also possible. 

To simplify your house-hunting experience, share houses are probably your best option. Besides that, there are great short-term accommodations that are both foreign and English-friendly.

Mobile Number and Bank Account

Besides housing and a job, there are a few other essential things you need to solve to start your new Japanese life well. You probably need a local phone number, an Internet connection, a Japanese bank account, and a public transportation card.  

Getting a phone and internet connection in Japan is relatively straightforward. Besides the major mobile phone companies such as  NTT Docomo, Au, and SoftBank, there are also newer firms such as Rakuten Mobile and Line Mobile, which offer cheaper plans. Check the different options to find the one that suits you better.  

You can sign up for a plan online or in person at the store, and most companies will require a Japanese address and proof of identity. It’s important to carefully consider your needs and budget before choosing a plan, as some companies may charge extra for international roaming or data usage.  

Opening a bank account in Japan is another critical step, as it will allow you to manage your finances and, most importantly, get paid in the country in local currency. Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui, and Mizuho are among the major Japanese banks, although other financial institutions such as SBI  Shinsei Bank are popular among foreigners for being more expedited in their processes.  

Once again, you need to check different options to find the one that fits you better


Getting your Suica Card or Pasmo Card, Japan’s main prepaid cards that allow you to pay for your subway, buses, trains, and even groceries at most konbini around the country (and coffees at Starbucks) is perhaps the most straightforward process. 

To obtain one of those cards, simply go to one subway or train station and look for the ticket vending machine. Find the Suica or Pasmo option on the ticket machine’s menu,  and select it. Choose the amount of money you wish to load, with a minimum of 2,000 yen, insert the cash, and wait for the card to be delivered to you almost instantly. 

If you are wondering about the differences between the Suica and the Pasmo, or wish to know more about other available public transportation cards, this article can help you out. Spoiler—the main difference between Suica and Pasmo is that they are provided and managed by different companies, yet they are quite equal in terms of coverage.

Staying in Japan After a Working Holiday Visa

So you have obtained your Working Holiday visa. You might find yourself enjoying your life in Japan and starting to wonder if you can stay in Japan to settle here. Would this be possible?

The short answer is yes! The Working Holiday visa is not intended for long-term stays. In fact, it’s designed for people who “intend to leave Japan at the end of their stay.”

However, you can continue living in Japan after your visa expires by changing your visa status. Converting to a working visa (such as a humanities visa) is a possible and very common case among foreigners.

You will have to find a company that is willing to sponsor you. The good news is that this might be easier because of the added convenience of already living in Japan. If you’re already working for a company, either part-time or full-time, it’s good to communicate your desire to continue working under a sponsored working visa at least 2-3 months before your Working Holiday visa expires.

If you haven’t worked yet, you might be wondering how to find a  good job in Japan. Japan’s local labor market can be broadly divided into two main categories: The mid-career job market, and the fresh graduate job market. Understanding this difference can be essential to define your job-hunting strategy. 

To look for a job in Japan, you can try different online portals for job hunting, or attend one of the many job fairs in different cities. Here are a few English-language boards where you can find several job openings. 

  • LinkedIn 
  • Daijob 
  • Jobs in Japan 
  • Work Japan 
  • Japandev 
  • Tokyodev 

Those who feel confident with their Japanese level can also try to explore Japanese-only online job boards.

Job fairs are other good options. Among them, I recommend the CFN Tokyo Career Forum, held in June and December, and the Daijob Career Fair, held in February, March,  and July. Last but not least, you can also try to rely upon a recruiting agency. These agencies are usually free of charge for the job seeker, although recruiters are primarily active in the mid-career job market. 

Check out our article about obtaining a Japan work visa!


What’s so great about the Working Holiday visa if you’re eligible) is that it offers more flexibility. You can get a full-time job along the way, learn Japanese, or stick to traveling around the country when you want. While this isn’t for everyone — particularly those who want to come to Japan with more stability and support — it’s certainly the perfect option if you’re looking for an adventure!

If you want to take Japanese language lessons on your working holiday schedule, check out the courses at Coto Academy! You do not need a student visa to study Japanese with us on a short-term basis – and we can accommodate a start date that fits your schedule. We also offer a free course consultation.

Head to this page to view our booking calendar. Good luck!

What is a working holiday visa?

A working holiday visa is a special visa for young people between the age of 18 and 30 (25 in the case of some countries), to stay in Japan for up to one year.

Can you work part-time or full time in Japan under a working holiday visa?

There is no limit on how many hours or days per week or how many months you can work on a Working Holiday Visa in Japan, so you can technically work full-time in Japan.

Can you extend your working holiday visa?

The Working Holiday visa is not intended for long-term stays and is only designed for a stay up to one year. However, you can continue living in Japan after your visa expires by changing your visa status. Converting to a working visa (such as a humanities visa) is a possible and very common case among foreigners.

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