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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in the Far East - Japan

Where to Go - Far East

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China | South Korea | Taiwan| Thailand | Japan


Population : 126,549,976

Literacy rate : 99%

Life expectancy at birth : male – 77.51 yrs, female – 84.05 yrs

Infant mortality rate : 3.91 deaths/1,000 live births

Population growth rate : 0.18%

GDP growth rate : 0.3%

GDP per capita : £15,700

Unemployment : 4.7%

Inflation : -0.8%

TI index: 6.4

Climate : varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north

Time : GMT + 9.

Electricity : 100 volts AC, 60Hz in the west (Osaka). 100 volts AC, 50Hz in eastern Japan and Tokyo. Plugs are flat 2-pin and light bulbs are screw-type.


The Japan National Tourist organization is at

The implicit promise of a lifelong job has now faded. Japanese are tending to become the job-hoppers that Europeans and Americans are, but this is happening slowly. On the technology front, the next thing would appear to be robotics – Japan has 410,000 of the world’s 720,000 functioning robots. Living here is quite liable to lead to some degree of culture shock – Japan is only superficially westernised. Expect deep traditionalism coupled with WAP phones and very hi-tech life-styles. Tokyo night-life is strange and wonderful – explore with a Japanese-speaking guide.The culture is ancient and strong. It will take some time for the fundamental and subtle differences to sink in. Do not expect to be welcome everywhere – the wonderfully civilized custom of the ofuro – the soak in a hot tub ( after washing with soap) will not be open to you in public bath-houses all over the country. In some out-of-the-way places, westerners can be a little of a novelty – seen on TV, but not in the flesh. The word for foreigner is gaijin – barbarian. There is a more politically correct term, but that is the one most often used. That said, the wonderfully intricate and subtle social interactions are far more civilized than western ones. One teacher called it, “….the nearest I could get to working on another planet…”.

There are many places to work besides Tokyo, so look around a little. Tourism here is a delight – don’t miss Kyoto and its wonderful temples; go to Sapporo and see possibly the most un-Japanese Japanese city. See the Inland Sea (between Shikoku and Honshu); Mount Fuji is an obvious place to visit, but see if you can make it to the top (there are tours and excursions). Go to Akihabara market in Tokyo for cut-price electronics. Up-market Japanese restaurants are a gourmet’s paradise. Japan also produces excellent beers and some very good whiskeys – representatives of the breweries toured Scotland, taking copious notes and numerous samples of water etc. before setting up the breweries and distilleries. Their thoroughness paid off.

Definitely an experience not to be missed.

Entry requirements

Australian, Canadian and New Zealand citizens can work on a working holiday visa obtainable in their respective countries. Everybody else needs a work visa.


Nothing special here. Although investigate if you are to be in very remote places.

Tax and Insurance

Around 10% income tax. Health insurance, it is a good idea to have your own.

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Japan

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China | South Korea | Taiwan| Thailand | Japan

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