tokyodev forum

Finding jobs and moving in, in your 30s


I’ve been wondering about moving to Japan for a couple of years now. There’s a lot of stuff I have to think about, so I’ll try to write some of it here to get your opinion :slight_smile:

I speak 0 Japanese (besides basic phrases). I’m a software engineer (most of my career has been building mobile apps on Android). Every now and then there’s a couple of job listings pop up that look like a real possibility for myself, the main issue however, would be, with my girlfriend. She’s a UI/UX designer (with experience in other design jobs/positions) and from the few searches I’ve done, it looks way harder to find a position for a non-Japanese speaking person for this kind of role. Are there any job boards that you’d recommend?

We’re both in our early 30s and we plan on having a child in the next couple of years. I’m mentioning this because I can imagine it can make things harder.

Does this make sense or should I just forget about it? Anything I should have in mind? I know this sound a bit all over the place but I want to get as much practical advice/input as possible.

Thanks in advance!

1 Like

Good design inherently requires an understanding of language and culture, and so without Japanese ability, it is hard to work on any product for the domestic Japanese market. While Japanese tech companies tend to be most successful domestically, there are some that are international. These are the ones that I’d focus the search on. I’m not aware of any specific job board for non-Japanese speaking designers, but the companies I’m listing might be a good place to start.

Japan does offer a Dependent visa for the spouse of a foreigner working in Japan. With this visa, you can apply for permission to work 28 hours per week. My understanding is that this need not be for a company in Japan, and so working remotely for an international company for instance would be permitted.

1 Like

There are definitely companies looking for English speaking developers. Android is actually in high demand in Japan so I wouldn’t let that the language barrier stop you. Do expect a pay cut though compared to what you’ve been making in the west (if that is where you are coming from).

I can’t say much about the spouse visa program since I’ve never used it. A design job will be more difficult to land, but being in Japan on any kind of visa that is not a tourist visa improves your chances of finding something.

Taking an interest in learning a bit more Japanese will help make finding jobs easier but I would focus on technical interview questions. Larger companies that would consider an overseas hire tend to rely on a lot of take home tests, sample codes and whiteboad (digital or otherwise) interviews and expect top talent in that respect.

I came over in my late 30’s so don’t let age hold you back. if anything, 31~35 is the prime target age for recruiters looking for seasoned talent.

I even managed to find positons from overseas using LinkedIn so that angle even works.

Keep an eye on the Corona/Covid19 situation though, because not being to come into the country in the first place might be a significant obstacle to start.

Hi there,

Language is definitely not a stopper for you to come to Japan. I also came here with zero Japanese and managed to get around pretty ok.

As mentioned above, do take the opportunity that Android is in very high demand here, especially in Tokyo, and many companies are dying to get their hands on skilled Android devs. I’m an Android dev myself and during the week I get contact multiple times on LinkedIn. Sometimes you can even find a company that will offer a relocation package.

As for your girlfriend, I recommend looking into Tigerspike. They have offices all over the world and the one in Tokyo seems to focus on UX and UI. Their work environment also seems pretty cool and relaxed with some nice perks.
Unfortunately the same can not be said for all companies where most see UX/UI as a secondary thing. Some people will argue that UX is just different here but as the UX Design Lead at LINE mentioned, his daily work was a struggle. And this is LINE, the biggest communication platform in Japan.

Regarding your age, in Japan, your salary will be based on past work experience, age and skill (sometimes by this order) so don’t think you’re too old to come because I’m sure you will be accepted regardless of age.

Abraços :wink: