Hello All. My husband I are interested in living in Japan for a little while. We are both Black Americans and I want to know if it...

...will be difficult for us to find work there, as ESL/EFL teachers or any job? Any suggestions? We are both trained ESL teachers, but I prefer dance and theatre (acting/directing) and my husband is a Pianist, Producer, Composer. Thanks = )


Country: Japan


hi there, welcome to Japan, i assume that you are coming to tokyo? i wish we could meet up but i am leaving on june 12 for some travelling. hmm...
to be honest the market for teachers has gone about 60% since the beginning of the crisis, the consequences are that the pay is less sometimes or there are not enough jobs, one company i would recommend is they find you private students and my experience with them is great, you can mention my name if you want.

black americans i love them and we need more, unfortunately many japanese people are very biased and simply ignorant of other countries. every caucasian person is mistaken for an american and the older generations still have not forgotten what happened during the war. for black people is tougher. but since you have lots of other talents except teaching i would suggest to start contacting acting agencies and the likes. maybe even Talent Agencies as they call them over here. or PR agencies. be prepared for the culture shock.
on the surface japan is a rich, well organised country in reality they attitude is quite provincial and simplistic. i dont want to be negative just want to give you my point of view then of course you can decide by yourselves.
generally speaking out of tokyo, saitama, chiba and hachioji is cheaper but it takes longer to commute. i live near Mitaka and i love it.

take care and all the best
there are a lot of great things over here simply it takes some time to adapt.
If you are looking for a place to come to, you can't go past the Kansai - Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara - as it is a very beautiful & historical area of Japan. The people are great, including yours-truly. I have some websites for you to peruse - & Check them out, they are self explanatory. I can also connect you with some agencies may help you with your dancing & theatre, plus I may be of use for your husbands musical talents (what genre does he play?). Are you on Facebook? If you are, I can connect you with some local & overseas musicians. Just type-in my name in the search box and send invitation. I hope your dream comes true.
Good advice. Even the Tokyo people say that they themselves are a cold bunch compared to the Kansai folks. I'm from NY, So Tokyo fits me just fine. But even I shake my head sometimes. I've never been to Kansai -- but I plan on it soon!
You shouldn't have much of a problem getting a teaching job if you have TEFL or equivalent qualifications. It would be difficult to do dance or theatre unless you have some Japanese language ability though there might be some possibilities if you live in Tokyo. You should check the website to start with. Good luck.
As a few have mentioned, the market for ESL teachers has gotten smaller in the last few years. Many teachers have left because salaries have gone down dramatically. On average, you are looking at a starting salary of 250,000 yen per month (about $2700). Tokyo or Osaka are your two best bets to get started. There are many bigger schools that have websites. Here are a few of them:

As the others have said, you can check out for other options.
I think one of those three would provide you the best chance to come to Japan. Remember that the working laws are fairly strict in Japan. My advice is to get hired by a Japanese school in the US and come to Japan under their sponsorship. Once you are here and understand the work environment, you can look elsewhere.

Best of luck and let me know if you need any advice. I know people who work for all three companies.
Hello, Blair

I've been in Tokyo for about six years. I used to go to university here and now I work as a software engineer. During college however I worked many, many ESL jobs at different locations.

You absolutely CAN get an ESL job here. It should be relatively easy. The pay may or may not suit you (most are between $20~$30USD per hour, but usually you work about 30 hours per week. Depends on the location. I would recommend ECC or some other large chain school. I have some friends that work there and they seem to like it. They've been there for about 4 years now, I think.

Being Black will present some interesting challenges no matter where you go. It's not so much that you're Black, it's that you're not Japanese (and neither am I) so sometimes the dynamic here will be a bit difficult. Of course, discrimination appears many places around the world and although you'll never really have to fear about violence or anything like that, you may get passed over for jobs that are not traditionally filled by Westerners (ELS, recruiting).

As mentioned before, you're going to have a difficult time in the arts department, I believe. Of course there's always work for driven individuals. If you do decide to go outside of the predetermined jobs for Westerners then you will absolutely need really decent Japanese skills (reading, writing and conversation -- about business level) and you will have to have a Japanese work ethic (pretty much giving 120% every day -- my job in the states was considerably easier -- same field)

What I recommend for you is this:
Take any ESL job you can find near Tokyo, Osaka, someplace big. Work your 30 hours per week and get some cash. On your off time start making contacts in the entertainment/performance industry. Without contacts, you're going to have a very difficult time. Being in a large metropolitan area you will have more success at this.

Living and working in Japan has been an amazing adventure for me. It has shown me the best and worst days of my life. It's a roller-coaster of success and missed chances like anywhere else, but magnified. If you feel you want to dive in and take the challenge than I recommend that you start down the ESL path and work from that safe base, slowly stretching out as you get the grips of this VERY different culture. Remember too that the real Japan will only start to show itself after you get past the candy coating (tatemae) and have native Japanese speak to you frankly.

I hope this helped you get on the right track. If you need some names for ESL then maybe I can dig something up for you. Good luck and I hope to see you around the big TKO.
Seems like others have already answered most of your questions. Like everyone said, you can surely find a teaching position, but the pay may or may not suit your expectations. The market is much smaller now than it was ten or twenty years back. But there are still good jobs out there if you look hard and have the right qualifications.
As for life in Japan, some people love it and some people don't. It is not the easiest place to live but with effort, it is certainly one of the interesting and exciting places on earth. I have lived in Japan for a total of about 27 years now and it is home to me. I can't imagine living anywhere else. But many people never get used to it and end up leaving, or worse yet, staying for many years and being bitter.
In any case, I wish you luck, if you do decide to try it out in Japan. It will be an experience and hopefully you will fall in love with the place like I have! Cheers.

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