Japan is a unique island that attracts a lot of foreign intrigue. Sushi, futuristic metropolises and zen gardens fill our popular image of the culture here. How about the IT industry in Japan?
For young software developers or IT professionals, coming to live and work in Japan is an excellent option for personal and cultural enrichment. In this series, I will interview foreign IT professionals working in Tokyo. I hope it will inspire and inform- and maybe help lead you to making the big step here.
Today’s interview is with a young 26-year-old software engineer whom we will call AC. He will guide you through his journey, giving insight on the challenges and rewards of IT careers in Japan/Tokyo.
AC’s Background to IT Career In Japan
“These different experiences challenge me and bring new values to my life and development”
Q: Thanks AC, tell us a little bit about your life growing up and before Japan?
I completed my Master in Computer Science from one of the most reputed universities in India. I always found software development interesting, and a company invited me to move my Software Engineer career to Japan. It’s an amazing experience up till now being here. I am looking forward to learning many things from Japan.
Q: Why did you first come to Japan?
Ever since I was young, I have loved exploring new cultures and meeting different people. I feel that these different experiences challenge me and bring new values to my life and development. Also, Japan has a much lower crime rate compared to other Asian countries, so there is safety and security. Japan is highly developed in both technology and culture as well, so there are many things to learn from Japan and Japanese people.
Q: How was your first experience of Japan?
Man, Japanese people are so polite and kind. Japan is convenient; very convenient. I noticed that there was much less pollution here compared to other countries. Overall, it was a very good first experience.
Q: Did you have any worries or concerns before arriving here?
Actually, I did not know anything about Japanese culture. I thought it would be difficult to communicate as I did not know the Japanese Language except for some basic words. Also, the earthquakes sounded a bit scary!
Career and Life Situation
“I really love travelling and meeting people in Japan… it’s a really good place for foreigners”
Q: How are those concerns going now?
I was very concerned about Japanese language, but now it’s fun to talk in Japanese. I managed to pass the N4 grade quickly through self-study and I really enjoy learning more.
Q: What are some big problems you have faced?
Japanese, Japanese and only Japanese. As I mentioned before I did not know anything about Japanese except some basic words. As a result, communication and understanding things can be difficult, but those are great challenges for me.
Q: What are the best parts of life in Japan?
Aside from the convenience, security, safety, kindness and developed culture? I really love travelling and meeting people in Japan. Japan is a really good place for foreigners and I have not experienced any extreme racism with me up till now. I also like the weather, with four clear seasons.
About IT Careers in Japan
“There are many valuable lessons I want to carry with me forever that I could have only picked up here in Japan”
Q: What are the best parts about working in IT in Japan?
The money is quite good, especially compared with other countries and also the cost of living makes it very comfortable. Moreover, I really value the work experience in a different culture. I feel lucky to have learnt many things about Japanese work culture. There are many valuable lessons I want to carry with me forever that I could have only picked up here in Japan.
Q: How did you find your current job?
I first came to Japan through a college connection to a software development company. Now I am working in Rakuten as an API architect for a global team. Daniel Bamford from Robert Walters helped me to get here! We contacted each other for a while about the position. After an enjoyable and fast process, I got the job. It’s a renewing contract position, so the hiring was decided in only a few days.
Q: What is Rakuten like as a company? How is the environment?
Rakuten is a huge company on a big global scale. What that means is global opportunities, global growth, massive systems and a diverse Culture. There are so many different nationalities just in my team. The atmosphere is good, and the work is challenging. However, they are growing very fast so it does demand good quality work and attitude.
IT Contract Work In Japan
“You can easily create work life balance … there is no unpaid overtime”
Q: How is it being a contractor? Do you worry about job security?
No, I do not! I believe that if someone is willing to do required hard work, and have enough learning experiences then such feelings would not come to you easily. It does mean that every few months my contract renews, but that is motivating and the company is stable and growing.
Q: Are there any benefits of being a contractor at Rakuten?
You can easily create work life balance as you do not need to do over time unless it’s necessary, and there is no unpaid overtime. Permanent employees have to do a lot of unpaid overtime and something called “asakai” in mornings. The hiring was so fast and I met directly with the team managers so I could get to know my team for sure. Actually, it is better than a permanent job, and all the facilities are provided for all employees so I’m overall very happy.
“Be clear about your goals first. Get advice from experienced people”
Q: Any advice for people looking to come to live & work in IT in Japan?
Do it! You will not regret it and you will learn, develop and enjoy so much. However, get clear about your goals first. Get advice from experienced people and share your plans with them. Start to learn Japanese so your arrival will be smoother and you’ll have more job opportunities the more you can speak Japanese. Also, don’t be afraid of taking a risk if it fits your long-term goals and challenges you. I hope this will help you out!
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As a final note from me (Daniel), I’d like to thank AC for his openness and generosity. I hope it helps you learn more about coming to Japan. AC is a wonderful guy who is definitely going to achieve a lot in his future career. It was – and is – a pleasure working with him.
If you would like to learn more about coming to work in Japan, please contact me by email and I am happy to offer free consultation and advice. What are you waiting for? With 2020 coming up soon, now is as good a time as any to start your new life here in Japan.