You just flicked through your 1000th John Smith’s Guide to Real Japan, which, to your great disappointment, read like a high-school geography/history book, it’s pages filled with nothing more the same dated information about Japan since the beginning of time, about where in Japan you can soak your ass in or climb a mountain – in short, nothing relevant to you, a young guy or girl out there looking to party, maybe see some sights actually worth seeing while you’re at it and hey, maybe meet some cool people.  You were getting sick of the search engine bringing up Asian porno sites every time you typed in Japanese girls, and were wondering why the hell couldn't you just find a guide that would tell you about real Japan. Not where the Hilton is, you can’t afford to stay there, not a ten-page article about how noodles are made, but rather just where the nearest Kentucky is from the station,  not the greatest view-points for Mount Fuji, not what the biggest bloody temple is in Japan - fuck all that, we're talking about about the PEOPLE; the BABES; the BOOZE; the CLUBS; the VIDEO-ARCADES; getting laid without knowing Japanese; surviving with 10 bucks in your back pocket; what natto looks like so you can avoid it when your host-mother tries to get you to eat it; essays about every little quirky aspect of living life in Japan that you saw on TV and had ever wondered about. What’s it like trying to be the Karate Kid in Japan.  Buy that dream plane ticket - but read YD first. This guide we bring to you is the result of over six years of guys and girls sitting round the proverbial camp-fire and talking about what they love and hate about this country.  What places are really worth seeing, not simply beaten path tourist traps that are their to rape you of your savings, other places too.  Young Dudes Guide to Japan is a culmination of effort from a variety of folks ranging from those who've only visited for a few weeks, to those who are full on ex-pats, to those who are bi-lingual Japanese themselves. Sure, the guide isn't quite PC in places and probably wont settle well with those Westerners who memorise haiku poetry for fun or those who would like to preserve the image of Japan as .  This guide is here exposing nothing but the truth.  And if one is true that can be said about the YD collaboration it’ is that we all share a common love for this country, despite its quirks and oddities.

Those out there might feel like you want to bitch a little after reading it, but just reeeelllaaax, take this guide for what it is - a bit of fun, a laugh, nothing meant to harm - and not too seriously, and maybe, just maybe, you'll have an enjoyable read. After all, Japan is what you make it. Check out the personal tales of guys and girls from all over on the front page. Then scoot over to the forum to converse with everyone from subjects that range from Chinese vs Japanese babes to - Do I need to bring Condoms when I go to Japan? - to Being Black in Japan - to Gaijin chicks in Japan.

Young Dudes, for anything else, you can buy Lonely Planet (you will anyway for the shiny cover)....





Temporary visitor (Tourist visa)


If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries listed here with which Japan has concluded a "general visa exemption arrangement", you need only a valid passport in order to enter Japan as a "temporary visitor", otherwise, you need to apply for a visa before coming to Japan. Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay in Japan for up to 90 days.

If you are a citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you have the possibility to extend your stay in Japan to a total of up to six months. You still initially enter Japan for 90 days, but can then apply for an extension at an immigration office in Japan before your visa has finished. Those not from the above countries who wish to stay for longer can chance a visa run – a hop across the ocean to Korea or China for a weekend in order to come back to Japan and renew their temporary visitor status for another period of time. In most cases with enough funds in the bank for immigration to look at this will work once, maybe twice.  Any more than that would be pushing it.   

This is the meat & potatoes visa most people will be on when they visit Japan for the first time. It doesn’t allow for any legal work whatsoever. You are allowed a maximum of 3 months in the country, after which, you will have to leave, change your visa status, or apply for an extension.  The stipulations;

  • Passport must be Valid 3 months Beyond Intended Stay
  • Tickets and Documents for Return or Onward Travel
  • No Visa Required for Stay up to 3 Months
  • Vaccinations - None Required


If you are a tourist and are from a country (e.g. the UK, Liechtenstein, Mexico) whose tourists are granted a maximum six month stay in Japan, your initial landing permission will only be for three months and you must go to an Immigration office to extend it another three. This is not 100% guaranteed but is usually granted. If you are from a country whose citizens are normally only given 90 day (e.g. Andorra, Monaco, the USA) or three month (e.g. San Marino, Barbados, Denmark) 'tourist visas', then you can still extend your stay by a few days or weeks but you do need to prove your case. Take as much back-up documentation to the Immigration Bureau as possible. Typical reasons are a course of study whose final date is a few days after the visa expires, ill-health requiring recuperation etc. Unlike for lucky Liechtensteiners this process is not nearly such a formality and can be rejected. Making a habit of coming to Japan regularly and for long periods as a 'tourist', will reduce the likelihood for approval for extension, as will coming from countries Immigration aren't so fond of.


Student visa
If you are a university student then you can't pretend that your course finishes after the final date on the visa because all Japanese universities finish at the same time (before the standard student visa expiry date). If you have changed your course you might now require an extension however, in which case your university can help you.If you are a pre-college student, the visa duration depends on the type of school you're attending (Japanese schools begin the new school year in April, many 'international' ones in September) and how the school sponsored you. Up to one more year's extension can be granted, but since the reason you might need to extend is that you didn't graduate because you didn't attend school enough - grounds for refusing extension - this is not necessarily easy. Sometimes Immigration will accept a letter of apology for being such a slacker, but they need not. Either way, the school must provide academic records, records of attendance and proof that you are still at the school.

Work visa
If you are on a work visa and are still employed, extending the visa should not be difficult and most companies will take care of the paperwork. They need to provide documentation giving details of the job, including current salary.


Japan initiated its Working Holiday Programmes, first with Australia in December 1980, then with New Zealand in July 1985, and with Canada in March 1986 respectively. In April 1999, the Republic of Korea joined the three preceding countries to start the Programme with Japan followed by France in December that year. The programme with Germany started in December 2000, and with the United Kingdom in April 2001. Working Holiday Programmes are designed to foster young people with global perspective and enhance friendly relationship between Japan and partner countries by providing opportunities for the young people to deepen their understanding about partner countries.
   The working holiday makers are allowed to engage themselves in part-time or full-time work to supplement their funds to travel and stay in partner countries.
   The following is the detailed information on the Working Holiday Programmes in Japan


First, are you Canadian, Australian, British, German or Kiwi? If so, then you can count your lucky stars, because being from any of the above qualifies you for a working holiday visa which lasts for 6 months but can usually be extended for up to a year, meaning you can work legally in Japan for that period of time, with no need for qualifications of any sort. BUT, you must have a certain amount of cash in the bank first (usually $2000/£1500) to show, you must be under 30, you need to have good health and no criminal record, and you can only apply for it once. Another big hitch is that you can't work in places which are regulated by the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business, such as clubs and pubs. But just because you're not supposed to do it, doesn't mean it's not possible, that's all I'm saying. Probably the scariest news about getting working holiday visas is that they're limited in number, and especially now with the football going on in Japan/Korea, you can expect quite a few Brits are probably hoping to work their way through the whole tournament in Japan using working holiday, so it's a good idea to get your applications in as soon as the Japanese fiscal year begins in April. Here is a list of the visas that apply to other countries.Visa. Americans cannot obtain this visa but they can get a tourist visa or a working visa for the skilled.

Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday visa is a special visa for young people that has the following features.

Validity of Visa:

Visa recipients must enter Japan within six months (one year for U.K.) after the date of issue.

Period of Stay:

An initial stay of up to six months is granted (one year for U.K. cannot be extended.) This may be extended up to another six months by the immigration authorities. Details are available from the Immigration Bureau.

Limits on Issue:

Working Holiday visas will be issued only to persons who have never obtained one before.

Re-entry Permits:

The Working Holiday visa is a single-entry visa. If the visa holder needs to leave Japan temporarily, it is necessary to obtain a re-entry permit from the immigration authorities before leaving Japan.

Remunerative Activities:

Working Holiday visa holders can engage in any kind of job as long as their stay is deemed to be primarily a holiday in Japan. They may not, however, work in places where business is being regulated by the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business, such as nightclubs and dance halls.

Visa Fees:

There is no charge for a Working Holiday visa. (7 pounds for U.K.)

Conditions of the Working Holiday Programme

Since the Working Holiday programme is intended to promote greater mutual understanding, the applicant's primary aim should be to holiday in Japan. The programme is not designed for persons who mainly intend to work or study in Japan (for which purposes the appropriate visa should be sought). To ensure that the programme's objectives are met, the following requirements are to be satisfied.

The applicant

must be a citizen/national of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom currently residing in his or her country of citizenship.

must intend primarily to holiday in Japan for a specific length of time.

must be between 18 and 30 years of age (25 years in principal for the U.K. at the time of application.)

must possess a valid passport and a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket.

must possess reasonable funds for living expenses, including medical expenses, during the period of the initial stay in Japan. For a single person, the minimum is US$2000, for a married couple, US$3000 or equivalent amount of the national currency.

must be in good health and not have a criminal record.

Application for Working Holiday Visa (Requirements and Procedure)

I. Requirements

The documents required for application include the following.

Application form in duplicate.


Two identical photographs (45mm x 45mm), to be glued to the application form.

Curriculum vitae:

Curriculum vitae in duplicate on A4 paper, including educational background, work experience, hobbies, and other relevant information.

Outline of planned activities in Japan, in duplicate.

Statement of the reason:

Statement of the reason for applying for Working Holiday visa in duplicate on A4 paper.

Proof of travel funds:

Proof of adequate travel funds (a return ticket, proof of possession of a bank account, traveller's cheques, etc.).

Proof of sufficient funds to support the initial stay in Japan:

At least US$2000 for a single person, US$3000 for a married couple.

II. Procedure

The applicant must apply for a visa in person.

Applications submitted by agents or group will not be accepted.


All application documents must be submitted to the nearest Embassy or Consulate-General of Japan in the applicant's country of residence.

Processing time for visa application:

Application must be made at least three weeks before the anticipated departure date. Applications submitted on short notice will not be accepted.

Other documents:

Alternative and/or additional documents may be required. Particulars can be obtained from the nearest Embassy or Consulate-General of Japan.


An interview with the visa officer by appointment may be required.

Further information on visa application procedures can be obtained from Embassies or Consulates-General of Japan.



New Zealand





Republic of Korea






the United Kingdom

Some views on the programme

Male from New Zealand, 21, professional skateboarder, arrived Feb. 1996

"The working holiday has been a great scheme for me. It has given me the chance to travel, work, and enjoy a different culture over my stay in Japan. I have met many interesting people and made many good friends. I have also learnt more about myself as a person. I think the working holiday programme is perfect for young people wishing to travel."

Female from Canada, 28, teacher, arrived Apr. 1996

"The Working Holiday Program is an exceptional opportunity that has enabled me to work and travel in Japan. The program opens the door of possibilities in Japan. It allows you to meet and work with the Japanese people, to participate and experience their culture. Having been here already four months, I could not imagine being here without the Working Holiday Program, because it has enabled me to do so many things that I would have not been allowed to do. Finally, since I have been in Japan, I have gained much experience both on a professional and personal level. In fact, now I begin to adjust to Japan, I am so glad that I can stay for one year, thanks to the Working Holiday Program and to all the personnel at the Working Holiday Office in Tokyo."

Male from Australia, 23, English teacher, arrived Feb. 1995

"Since I have been in Japan I have found the Japanese people to be friendly and the working holiday program to be a very worthwhile programme that gives foreigners the opportunity to experience the real Japan (e.g., its culture, hobbies, and way of life)."

Support Services in Japan

If Working Holiday visa holders need any help after entering Japan, they are advised to contact the Japan Association for Working Holiday Makers (JAWHM). This is a nonprofitorganization and is the only organization in Japan authorized by the Government to help Working Holiday visa holders. The association provides free job referral services, accommodation information, and opportunities for counseling.

For more information of JAWHM, please click

The association has three offices:

Tokyo Head Office

Sunplaza 7F, 4-1-1 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164
tel: 03-3389-0181
fax: 03-3389-1563

Osaka Branch

L-Osaka 4F
3-14 Kitahama Higashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fu 541-0031
tel: 06-6946-7010
fax: 06-6946-7021

Kyushu Branch

P-Face, 3F, 1-3-20 Arato, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka 810
tel: 092-713-0854
fax: 092-752-2415

Other Information

Alien Registration:

Working Holiday visa holders are required to apply for alien registration at the nearest local government office within 90 days of arrival.

Life and Health Insurance:

Working Holiday visa holders are advised to make arrangements to see that they are fully insured for all medical expenses that may be incurred in connection with illness, injury, or accident during their stay in Japan.

Ability to Speak Japanese:

Ability to speak Japanese to some degree is desirable but not required.


Lastly there's the working visa , the reserve of the skilled and qualified. To get this sort of visa you really need to have a degree or have skillz. Those outside Tokyo who can't speak fluent Japanese are pretty much limited to teaching English, which is really the only 'regular' job a non-Japanese speaking foreigner can get in Japan. It’s like you say to most foreigners you meet working and living here, not “What do you do?”, but “Where do you teach English?”.

Like any country in the world, if you're independantly wealthy it's possible to sponsor yourself in Japan indefinitely.

Where there's a will, there's a way. One big hurdle might be getting an apartment though, as it's rather expensive and hard to do in the bigger cities.

A word of warning, it seemed to me that the only foreigners I knew who were living in Japan without a degree were those who'd married a Japanese, and they were working some pretty shitty jobs although some were doing okay with their own restaurants and businesses. Obviously if you can speak Japanese with some fluency, the doors are opened wider, but it probably takes around 4-5 years for the average person to gain that kind of fluency in reading and writing, so the only kind of work you'll find until then is likely to be custodial. Speaking Japanese is not an exceptionally difficult task, and Japanese grammar is nearly childlike in it's simplicity. However, learning to read and write in Japanese is a task that requires years of dedication and constant practice, so don't kid yourself if you're thinking "Hell, I'll go on a working holiday visa for a year and when I come back I'll be chatting to the Yamaguchis like a native and writing letters to my old host-family in perfect Japanese". Learning Japanese takes the kind of exceptional dedication that only comes through a true love of the subject, but if you can do it, you will reap the rewards. I would hate for some of you people out there to try to attempt it, and waste 3 years in college before they decide you were never into Japan in the first place, and have to go back to the drawing board. Think long and hard about taking up the challenge guys.



Japan has entered into visa-waiver agreements with the following countries. If you hold a passport of one of the country mentioned below, you may be entitled to enter Japan without a visa. The activities that you engage in while here in Japan must be limited to those allowed under the “Temporary visitor” category (these include sightseeing, participating in business meetings, or other non-commercial or non-academic activities). Generally speaking, you must have a return ticket, and you must be able to demonstrate that you can pay for your expenses while in Japan. This can be done by bringing adequate cash or a credit card. You should also be prepared to provide your Japanese Customs Officer with a detailed description of your plans while in Japan, i.e.: where you will be going, what activities you will be engaging in and whom you will be visiting.


Term of Residence


Term of Residence




3 months or less


6 months or less


14 days or less


6 months or less

KOREA(School Trips only)

90 days or less 


6 months or less


90 days or less 


6 months or less

North America


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


90 days or less


3 months or less

Latin America and Caribbean


3 months or less


6 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


90 days or less


3 months or less

Middle East


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less


3 months or less



90 days or less


90 days or less


90 days or less


90 days or less


90 days or less



90 days or less


3 months or less


90 days or less


3 months or less


90 days or less


3 months or less


90 days or less



90 days or less


6 months or less


90 days or less


6 months or less




description of your plans


Japan does not have a bilateral agreement with Australia, however, Australian-passport holders are allowed to participate in Japan’s visa-waiver program.

The visa-waiver agreements between Japan and Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran, have been temporarily suspended.

Although the visa-waiver agreements between Japan and Malaysia, Peru and Colombia are still in effect, at this time it is recommended that passport holders from those countries obtain visas.

If the country which issued your passport has a visa-waiver agreement which allows for a 3-month or 90-day stay, you will be granted temporary visitor status for a period of 90 days upon arrival (Except for Brunei passport holders).

If the country which issued your passport has a visa-waiver agreement which allows for a 6-month stay, you will be granted temporary visitor status for 90 days upon arrival. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you must apply for an extension at the nearest Japanese Immigration Service Office in Japan after arrival.







A "Certificate of Eligibility" is issued before a visa application by a regional immigration authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice as evidence that the applicant fulfils various conditions of the Immigration Control Act, including those certifying that the activity in which the foreigner wishes to engage in Japan is valid and comes under a status of residence ( excluding Temporary Visitor Status ).


The Certificate of Eligibility has the advantage of reducing the time required to obtain a visa and complete immigration procedures, since a foreigner in possession of such a certificate can probably acquire a visa at an embassy or consulate without any inquiries being made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, by showing the certificate to the immigration officer, obtain landing permission more easily.

[However, there are some exceptional cases where work, specified & general type visas are granted by the Japanese embassy or consulate without certificate of eligibility and/or without any inquiries being made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]


Please note, however, that even if a foreigner possesses a "Certificate of Eligibility", an embassy or consulate may not issue a visa in certain circumstances -for example, if there has been a change in the situation since the issue of the certificate (such as the company that was planning to hire the foreigner deciding not to do so because of business difficulties) or if it becomes evident that the documents submitted to obtain the certificate were false.


Validity of Certificate of Eligibility


The certificate of eligibility is valid for 3 months from the date of issue and within the validity a visa should be obtained and landing in Japan should be done.


Entering Japan with Certificate of Eligibility


At the time of entering Japan on the working visa granted overseas on the basis of the Certificate of Eligibility, the visa is regarded as cancelled upon entry to Japan. [However, in the case of multiple entry work visa it is not so.] The immigration official at Narita or another port of entry will replace it by stamping residence status and the expiry date of stay on passport. With that stamp in place, permission for an extended stay in Japan is given.


After obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility in Japan, applicant can apply for visa at a Japanese embassy or consulate overseas. Recently, however, changing visa status from short term with a certificate of eligibility in Japan is possible.

The minimum documentation required when applying for visa overseas at a Japanese embassy or consulate is Certificate of Eligibility and two photographs (45 mm x 45 mm). Depending on nationality and the embassy or consulate abroad other documents may be required as well. Thus, checking in advance with the embassy or consulate is recommended.

The number of days the embassy or consulate will take between accepting application and granting the visa differs somewhat from county to country. Visa may be issued on the same day or after several business days.

Applying for Change of Status with a "Certificate of Eligibility" in Japan (when the applicant is in Japan)

At the time when the CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY is obtained from the Immigration office if the applicant is visiting Japan with Short-Term Visa then change of status can be applied.

First-time registration:
A foreigner registering for the first time should visit the local ward or municipal office in the district in which he or she is now living with his / her passport along with two recent photographs of 45 mm x 35 mm. Application form can be obtained at the ward or municipal office. When a foreigner applies for alien registration, he or she is designated a scheduled date by which the alien registration card will be issued and the card should be picked up by this date. In case of foreigners aged 15 years or less, the card is issued immediately after application.
The alien registration card gives the foreigner's name, date of birth, sex, nationality, address, status of residence, place of work and other details.


Visa Category

Residence Status

Length of Stay

Diplomatic Visa


Length of posting

Official Visa


Length of posting

Working Visa

Depends on work undertaken

3 months - 3 years

Temporary Visitor's Visa

Temporary Visitor*

15 - 90 days

Transit Visa

Temporary Visitor*

15 days

General Visa

Cultural Activities*
College Student*
Precollege Student*

6 months - 1 year
1 - 2 years
6 months - 1 year
6 months - 1 year
3 months - 3 years

Specified Visa

Designated Activities#
Spouse/Child of Japanese National
Spouse/Child of Permanent Resident
Long-Term Resident

1 - 3 years
1 - 3 years
1 - 3 years
6 months - 3 years

No Visa Required

Permanent Resident