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10 Side Jobs for Foreigners in Japan

Looking to make some extra money outside your day job? Here are some possible side jobs you can consider.

By 6 min read

Having a side job in Japan can help you make some extra money and help you transition into a career in IT or translation. Pursuing a side job will also let you gain experience and get your foot in the door. If you’re looking at what industries to dive into, here are some of the most common side jobs for foreigners in Japan.

Before submitting your application, double-check with your current employer to see whether they will allow you to work a second job. Some companies, including exchange programs such as JET, may still contractually prohibit this. In addition, be mindful of your visa requirements. Suppose your visa only permits one main job. In that case, you may have to apply for an “Application for Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted.” For more information, check out our Visas and Status of Residence page.

1. Language Instructor

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Teach English from your home, in the evenings or on weekends.

Though this is one of the most common full-time professions for foreigners in Japan, it can also be a great side job. English instructor or tutor positions are often flexible and may allow you to work from home, in the evenings or on weekends. It is also possible to teach as an independent freelancer via online platforms. Eikaiwa (English conversation) cafes are another option, where English speakers converse with locals who want to practice their English.

Though demand is highest for English language instruction, native speakers of Korean, Spanish and other languages can also find opportunities to teach their language. Among our list of side jobs for foreigners in Japan, this might be the easiest to get into.

2. Game Localization Tester

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The best of both worlds.

If “extensive experience playing video games” sounds like you, this may be your ideal side job. Video game companies are often hunting for native speakers of various languages to translate and test video games in the fast-growing field of game localization. If you’d rather choose to play games on your terms but still want to work in the gaming sector, consider working as a game player support staff. Many of these positions can also be held remotely, as long as you have a computer and an internet connection.

3. Freelance Translator

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Test your Japanese fluency while getting paid.

If you have advanced Japanese skills and top-notch writing skills in English (or your native language), you may already be interested in translation work. Japanese companies often look for a native speaker to translate Japanese documents, websites, press releases and more into other languages. If you have language skills, it’s worth updating your LinkedIn page with information in Japanese and creating a profile on a freelancer marketplace.

4. Freelance Writer

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Write for us!

Do you have dreams of becoming a writer? Perhaps you’d like to start by writing articles like this one. If so, freelance writing is the side job you should consider. Websites like GaijinPot are often looking for unique editorial pieces from contributing writers. Some companies hire freelance writers to write website content about their products or services. You could also start your own blog. It may not be profitable initially, but you can monetize it if you keep writing and posting.

5. J-Blogging and Vlogging

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Make content about your life in Japan.

Speaking of blogging, have you considered monetizing your own day-to-day Japanese experiences by starting a blog or vlog about your journey in Japan? Many others do this, but this can become very lucrative if you believe you have something unique to offer. It’s not uncommon for social media influencers to make significant income using the power of the internet. Make money by creating sponsored content, placing ads, offering services or using affiliate links to hotels and tours.

GaijnPot Blog always seeks creative people to contribute content across its media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. If interested, check the GaijinPot job board and submit your application.

6. Freelance IT

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Grow your IT skills on the side.

The demand for IT jobs, including freelance jobs, is growing. If you have IT skills you’d like to practice, this is an excellent choice for a side job. This is also a good option if you’re interested in eventually pursuing a career in IT but don’t yet have work experience. By doing freelance work, you can further develop your skills and gain knowledge that could lead to a full-time job. A wide range of freelance IT jobs are available, from Web and App Developers to Graphic Designers.

7. Tour Guide

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Guide tourists around your favorite spots in Japan.

Japan is the place to travel right now. Shortly after the borders were reopened after COVID-19, everyone suddenly wanted to come to Japan. This means there is much more demand for positions in the tourism industry. If you enjoy traveling, love the place you live, and like meeting new people, working a side job as a tour guide could be an enjoyable option. As a start, you could sign up to be a guide with a local agency or international company. If you enjoy it enough, you could even start independently advertising yourself as a local tour guide.

8. Uber Eats Delivery Driver

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Stay fit and make money at the same time.

As Uber Eats gains traction in Japan, more delivery drivers and cyclists must transport food around Japan’s big cities. The hours are flexible, you are your own boss, and if you choose to cycle, you can also get a lot of exercise. Pay is based on how many deliveries you make, and you’ll need to sort yourself out with the proper bicycle insurance.

Uber Eats is available in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka, and it’s easy to get started as a delivery driver. If you want to go directly with a company, delivery jobs with Domino’s Pizza, KFC and McDonald’s are also open to foreign workers.

9. Wedding Officiant

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Strange? Yes. Lucrative? Also yes.

One of the more unique gigs for foreigners in Japan, specifically foreign-looking men, is to officiate weddings while dressed like a Catholic priest. For a while, it has been popular for Japanese people who want a Western-style wedding to hire foreign “priests” to officiate their wedding. Your job is to dress in priestly garb and officiate the wedding ceremony. The scripts typically mix English and Japanese, so you must have decent Japanese skills. It’s bizarre, but if you don’t mind being the token foreigner at a wedding, you can make some pretty decent cash on the side.

10. One-time Gigs

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Walk away with a fresh haircut and some great photos.

If you’re not particularly keen on starting a regular side job but wouldn’t mind earning extra cash, perhaps a one-time or short-term opportunity would spark your interest. Some companies regularly ask for people to participate in various studies, which can be easy cash and an interesting experience for participants.

Other companies sometimes need to record the voices of native speakers of different languages for various projects. Some Japanese salons are also looking to market to more foreign customers and will pay foreigners to have their hair done and take photos for their website. Various opportunities like this are always coming up on GaijinPot Jobs, so check them out.

Have you tried any of these side jobs for foreigners in Japan? Share your experience in the comments below!

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