Working Holiday in Japan: Experience and Starting tips!

Working Holiday in Japan: Experience and Starting tips!

That day finally came.
I was dreaming to experience life abroad since a long time, and it took me about 7 years to make up my mind…
But here I am in the plane, leaving my country for an unknown period of time, and a crazy funky destination.

Before the big day, I carefully prepared and organised many things like every person moving abroad.
I won’t make a guide about the administrative hassle to get the Working Holiday Visa because there are already many useful guides around there. But I would like to talk about the first things you will need at your arrival in Japan:

Find an accomodation in Tokyo

Some people choose to stay at a hostel first or Airbnb and then look for some nice place to visit when they arrive. But for my part, I booked it from France.
I was thinking that, if I could find a nice place directly, I won’t have to move my giant suitcase so much! And I did find a pretty nice place that I can now recommend you:

Bamboo house

Bamboo house offer weekly~monthly rooms and have several share-houses or private apartments in Tokyo. I find the prices more interesting than some famous share-houses like Sakura hostel.
Besides, the rooms seem bigger/brighter to me, but please note that most of them are quite old. If you’re allergic to old mansions and prefer some brand new all-comfort place, maybe that won’t be for you.
Still, there is heater & air conditioner in every room and it was a very comfortable stay for me. (the air conditioner really SAVE you in summer!)

The thing I liked the most was probably the location:
Right in the heart of Yanaka ginza, an authentic and historic area in Nippori (North of Tokyo).
Trains and subway lines like Yamanote line are also just 5 minutes walk away, so it’s a perfect spot!
Ahh Yanaka ♥ I really loved living here and I wrote all about this magic place here : Yanaka Ginza

Anyway, I chose this tiny but cosy, light, cheap room in Sharehouse.

Room in share-house at Yanaka, Tokyo.

It was my first time living in an official share-house with many people, so I was a little bit worried about some practical aspects, like
“What if  the bathroom is busy the morning when I need it”
“What about the kitchen if we all queue to cook?”

Finally, I almost never had any problems.
Of course, there are some days you have to wait a little bit to use the common areas. But generally, the place was calm and the residents seemed rarely at home so we didn’t bother each others.
Besides, I still happened to meet some nice travellers like me and spend some nice time with them. That was for sure a very good part of the community lifestyle!

If you have a larger budget, you can go for your own private apartment or a more fancy place.
They also offer some around 120 000yen monthly rent. Not so bad.
These websites also offer many options :

Oak house
Tokyo share house
Tokyo rooms
Once you’re cosily settled, you can now go through with two things you will necessarily want to have:

Open a bank account and subscribe a phone plan

Bank account : Shinsei Bank

After reading some blogs and recommendations about banks in Japan, I chose to go with Shinsei bank, like almost every foreigner. Why?

⇒ The website dispose of  an english interface and is very easy to use.
⇒ The account is totally free!

But I had a funny misadventure with this…

When I tried to open an account they asked me for a phone number, and when I tried to subscribe a phone account somewhere they asked me for a japanese bank account! Never-ending story.
(There were actually some offers that don’t require you to provide a bank account, but they were so expensive! Be careful!)
So, after some investigation, I finally found a phone plan not asking for a japanese bank account.

Phone plan: Akihabara Kingdom

There is an important thing to know about phone business in Japan:
The offers are pretty much unlimited, and differ according to the store you go.

I went to a Yodobashi store in Shinjuku and asked for advices to a seller. He reviewed me all the phone plans available here.
Then I went to the Yodobashi in Akihabara, where I was surprised to learn they have some different offers you can only find in this store.

It’s here, in Akihabara, that I found the perfect and cheap plan for me, with Docomo. 2GB Data plan + 1 hour phone call for about 1400yen, AND the possibility to link a foreign bank account to pay. Hurray!
I went to many different Yodobashi and other shops like Big camera to compare their offers, and I strongly recommend you to head off in Akihabara. They obviously has a larger amount of different offers, that you can specifically find there.

Now that you finally have a bank account and a life-saving data connection on your phone, you are ready to travel and move around easily!


Note that the biggest advantage to get a phone at your arrival in Japan, is the possibility to use maps and transports applications.
I’m one of these persons with absolutely no sense of directions, totally lost without Google maps!

In Tokyo, the subway stations’s Enter and Exit are even marked on the map, that will save your time tremendously.
No kidding but, Shinjuku station has about 200 exits.


If you to know more about how to find a job in Japan check my post here:
Working in Japan
Or here for some good reasons to join the adventure of Working Holiday travelers:
5 reasons to do a Working Holiday in Japan

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