Over the last few years I have visited Japan three times. I totally fell in love with Tokyo, and made some good friends along the way. As it comes time for me to explore other career opportunities, I cannot stop thinking about finding a way to work in Tokyo. Ideally, I would be able to make this work in around, or just over a year from now (though I would, of course, be open to something sooner if the opportunity arose).
I am 100% willing to accept that there will be a hit to my salary and benefits that I experience while working at a US startup, but the more I visit, the more I want to see if I can make something work there.
I have set a few goals to help me get there - though there are some caveats.
I do not speak Japanese (besides very, very basic things I use to get around). It is very difficult for me to visit for more than a week or so in the near future (6 months) and most of my connections are not directly related to development. I feel my 2 - 2.5 years of development and grad degree put me in a position of being a pretty standard developer, I feel I don’t offer something super specialized that would warrant me being hired a world away.
So I have set a few goals:
I will begin attending Japanese night classes in July. I know I cannot become fluent in a year, but I figure anything helps.
I will spend the next year saving some runway money for if I have to fend for myself (teaching English, or on a holiday visa or whatever).
I am going to start blogging a bit and try and raise my profile so I have more to point to when I am looking for a job.
So I have some questions:
Is it reasonable with these skills and qualifications to start looking for a job in Japan in the next year?
Are there skills or focuses other than Japanese and continuing to improve as a developer in my duties at my company that could improve my chances?
Is it unreasonable to come for two weeks during a time when there is an international developer meetup or something of the like and hope to expand my connections enough to get a job?
If yes, do most people find jobs efficiently enough that they could search on a tourist visa? I am a US citizen so I cannot get a working holiday visa.
If these are too difficult, I see the best option being to come as an English teacher and then look for work when my contract is up. I do have an undergraduate degree in English, not sure if that would help me at all in being placed in Tokyo and not on the outskirts or some other city. I am most interested in Tokyo because I already have friends there and I have been elsewhere, but Tokyo really calls to me.
I am sorry, this is a bit ramble-y but I suppose I am just looking for a gut check that I am setting realistic expectations for myself. Though I do not know Japanese, I am dedicated to the process of learning it, and I am 100% willing to make sacrifices to make this work.
Thank you so much,