8 Side Jobs for Foreigners to Make Extra Money in Japan

Japan is reeling from COVID-19. To help you find extra work while we wait for this to blow over, here are the best side jobs for foreign workers.

By 6 min read

The coronavirus is taking a toll on businesses around the world—Japan included. Many foreigners in the country are suddenly faced with reduced work and income for the unforeseeable future. For those looking for side gigs to get by, this list offers good suggestions.

Since we shouldn’t really be going outside given the current state of emergency, remote work is a good option. Thankfully, you can search for jobs that allow you to work from home on GaijinPot Jobs in our new “Remote Work Ok” section.

In 2015, 5.3 million Japanese worked two jobs. In 2018, this number swelled to 7.4 million […]

Shinzo Abe’s Work Style Reform policy has also provided a small but viable safety net during these scary times. Originally implemented to curb dangerously long work hours and remove unequal pay gaps, the policy promoted labor flexibility by encouraging workers to take secondary jobs.

In 2015, 5.3 million Japanese worked two jobs. In 2018, this number swelled to 7.4 million, or about 11% of the total workforce, according to Lancers Inc, one of Japan’s largest online freelancer job platforms.

While Japanese companies have traditionally demanded 100% loyalty and monogamous commitment from their employees, more and more are changing their outlook to help current staff broaden their skillset, as well as attract new workers amid a labor shortage.

Here are some of the most common, accessible, and flexible side jobs for foreigners in Japan.

1. English Instructor

This may be one of the most popular side-jobs taken by foreigners living in Japan. English instructor or tutor positions are often flexible and may allow you to work from home, after regular work/school hours, or on weekends. Instructor job requirements may range from English play-time with nursery-school age children, to teaching primary or secondary school children, up to teaching business-level courses.

There’s also the private English lessons route where you teach as an independent freelancer via platforms like Hello Sensei or Eigo Pass. An eikaiwa cafe is another option, where English speakers will usually sit at a table at a designated café, then be joined by locals who engage in different interesting topics of conversation. Examples in Tokyo include Easy Eikaiwa or LeafCup English Café.

Potential earnings: ¥1000 – ¥6000 per hour

2. Social Media

Are you tired of people telling you you’re wasting too much time on Instagram? Well, now you can turn your social media addiction into a part-time job! Companies are always looking for social media managers. This type of job will typically have you providing feedback from Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds, deploying specific advertisements for targeted users, and putting your Google detective skills to good use.

This is also a great opportunity to work from home, and you can apply directly via GaijinPot Jobs. Keep in mind a lot of these jobs are not always run by English-speaking companies.

Potential earnings: Varies

3. Game Localization Testers

If you have a passion for video games, this might be the perfect side gig for you. Video game companies are often on the hunt for native speakers of a variety of different languages, to translate and test video games in the fast-growing field of game localization. If that doesn’t float your boat, but you 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. Another of the job requirements? “Extensive experience playing video games.” Check!

Potential earnings: ¥1200 per hour

4. Freelance Translator

If you’ve been in Japan for a while and want to put your language skills to the test, translation work may be the gig for you. Japanese companies often look for a native speaker to translate Japanese documents, websites, press releases, and more into other languages. Translators may often be the liaison between foreign customers or vendors and the local Japanese company as well. If you’ve got the language skills, it’s worth updating your LinkedIn page with information in Japanese and creating a profile on a freelancer marketplace such as Gengo or CrowdWorks.

Potential earnings: Depends on project/work

5. Konbini Staff

Another popular side hustle in Japan is to work at konbini (convenience stores), which are found in every corner of the country. Konbini are in the midst of a foreign recruitment drive, with the four largest brands employing more than 50,000 foreign staff in total. Often, you can work as little or as much as you want during a week, and in some cases, you can bring home the leftover food!

It’s possible to take a part-time position at a konbini for their graveyard shifts or after regular work hours, too. You’ll need decent enough Japanese to be able to interact with managers and customers. Take a look at the recruitment pages for Lawson and 7-Eleven for an idea of what it’s all about.

Potential earnings: ¥800+ per hour (varies by store and by region)

6. Uber Eats Delivery Rider

As Uber Eats gains traction in Japan (while Uber itself can’t get a foothold) more delivery drivers and cyclists are needed to transport food around Japan’s big cities. The hours are flexible, you are your own boss, and if you choose to cycle, you can get a lot of exercise in too. 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 open to foreign workers as well.

Potential earnings: ¥700 to ¥1800 per hour


7. J-Blogger or Vlogger

Monetize your own day-to-day Japanese experiences and adventures by starting a blog or vlog about your journey in Japan! It’s not uncommon for social media influencers to be able to make significant income using the power of the internet. Make money from creating sponsored content, placing ads, offering services, or using affiliate links to hotels and tours.

Our very own GaijnPot Blog is always looking for creative people to help contribute content across its media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Get in touch with the team via the contact form.

Potential earnings: Varies

8. Part-Time Work

There’s a ton of interesting part-time jobs listed on GaijinPot right now, especially if you have experience teaching English. The list is always being updated with positions from different fields, though, so make sure to take a look here to see all of the offerings.

Potential earnings: Varies

Before you jump into a side gig

jumping in GIF by America's Funniest Home Videos

  • Do be cautious of the risks around karoshi, meaning “death by overwork.” Some argue that encouraging people to take second jobs will only undermine government efforts to cap overtime working hours. Always prioritize your health and make sure your weekly hours are manageable for you.
  • Check with your current employer whether they allow you to work a second job. Some companies may still contractually not allow this, including exchange programs such as JET.
  • Be mindful of your visa requirements. For example, how many hours you are permitted to work, and how many jobs you are allowed to hold. If your visa only permits one main job, 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 on visas in Japan, check out our page on Visas and Status of Residence in Japan 101 section.

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