TokyoDev forum

Taking a "Gap Year" by coming to Japan

I’m currently an IT student looking at getting into software and web development. I see a lot of great opportunities on your site, and it truly inspires me to keep going in my studies.

My question relates to whether or not taking a “gap year” would be detrimental to future job searches. I use quotation marks because, rather than just being idle, I had planned on, once finishing my degree in 2023, coming to Japan on a student visa and enrolling in a language school full time to get more familiar with Japanese and to take in the culture and customs and decide if the big city in Japan is right for me. My worries are that employers would look at this gap between university and job and see it as a negative, even though in my eyes I am using it to improve myself.

As an IT professional, what are your thoughts?

Also, something which I just thought of:

Assuming this isn’t a bad idea and is a path I take down the line, is it illegal to look for work while on a student visa? I know that while on a student visa it is illegal to take full time jobs, but assuming you get an offer, can you convert to a working visa while in the country, or do you have to leave and reapply? I would think that applying for full time jobs while actively in the country would be way easier since the companies wouldn’t have to worry about relocation.

I don’t think a Japanese employer will mind that you’re attending Japanese school after you graduate. It’s showing your dedication to living in the country, and the more Japanese abilities you have, the more opportunities become open to you.

One thing to consider is what you’ll do if you’re not able to secure a job in Japan, and have to return to your own country. Likewise, I’d personally think it wouldn’t have a big effect on your career long term.

There’s nothing illegal about looking for full time work while you’re attending a Japanese school. To maintain a Japanese language school visa, you need to maintain a certain level of attendance and performance, so you might run into issues if all you did was look for work, but if you incidentally apply for some jobs it should be fine. There’s no need to leave the country to go from a student to working visa.


Yeah, when I was talking about job hunting, I was thinking more long term as I’ve heard it can take up to 6 months from getting an offer to having a working visa approved. Although, that might be in the context of people who are not actively inside the country applying.

Normally a change in residency status is much quicker than a totally new visa. I know of developers who have been hired on a student visa, working the 32 hours, until the residency status can be changed. While some companies will prefer that you already have a working visa, even having a student visa opens up a lot of options.