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Show HN: Geek Bridge – Find dev work in Japan without knowing Japanese (geekbridge.co)
40 points by jamesknelson on Aug 2, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

I know wages for programmers are low in Japan, but 200,000¥ a month for automotive programming? That's about $25k/year.

Would a company really be willing to help with relocation or a visa for that?

Anyway, I'm not looking right now, but maybe someday.

Yes, this is normal in Japan and is one of the main reasons why I left.

I don't know all the reasons. A few I imagine are

(a) they don't value programming

(b) they've got a captive workforce because Japanese is only useful in Japan so you can't go somewhere else unless you get fluent in another language and few do

(c) they still have the "one company for life" attitude. It's slowly changing but is still prevalent

(d) their education system doesn't produce people with experience. Most of the programmers I met said they had zer programming experience when they started their jobs. Instead they got the job because they had crammed for the right college in high school. They are then trained on the job

(e) they consider programming a job for youth. Many programming jobs will have an upper age limit of 35.

When I was there the two companies I worked for had an upper limit set by HR on programmer's salaries. It was 1/3 what I came home to.

I think your question should be: Why would I relocate for a horrible salary? You can get more than that by teaching English -- even without a teaching degree.

If you are doing web development in Tokyo, your salary is probably between ¥400,000 and ¥800,000 per month.

Really? That's ... Causing me to rethink some things.

It's hard to come up with concrete numbers, but here's a unscientific survey I did: http://www.tokyodev.com/2014/02/13/japanese-developer-salary...

I think actually worked at that company 15 years ago. They're a more traditional company that pays based on your age, marital status, and number of dependents. Lots of companies in the Aichi/Gifu area are like that.

Does anyone know the cost of living in ¥ at those locations?

For Gifu/Nagoya, it really depends on what kind of lifestyle you want, but I'd say anywhere from about ¥120,000 to ¥200,000 a month if you're single, or ¥200,000+ for a couple.

Approximately correct to my experience. Note that foreigners will blow past the low end if they are not willing to live like Japanese people, particularly with regards to food budgets (with some exceptions, food like you're used to is systematically more expensive than Japanese food) and rents (middle-class Americans would often not tolerate the kinds of housing arrangements young Japanese people do).

Lifestyle choices are the main variable in cost of living...

Expatsian has some interesting data points.


If you are interested in working as a developer in Japan, it's a topic I've written about a bunch: http://www.tokyodev.com/jobs/

One thing you might be clear is whether the positions are for English speakers living in Japan, or if they are open to developers worldwide.

In my experience, most companies where Japanese isn't necessary still prefer people to already be in Japan, as bringing someone from abroad is seeing as more risky, as even if the candidate ends up liking the company, they still might not like life in Japan.

Thanks for the link. Looks like you've put together some useful stuff.

Hi everyone! This is something our Startup Weekend team from Nagoya, Japan is building. We'd love to hear any feedback!

I'll be back in Nagoya in late September to visit family. I'd be interested in checking out the startup scene there. Give me a shout. My email is in my profile.

Even though I'm not actively looking to move, thanks for making this. Love the Final Fantasy VII reference. :) Perhaps I can finally make use of all those semesters of Japanese.

$2500 for a mobile developer job in Tokyo? Does that even pay for taxes and rent and food? The going rate in the bay area (also expensive) is about 4x that. Why would anyone with mobility choose Japan then? (Other than as a language immersion class, perhaps?)

It's borderline if you live by yourself in the city, especially if they don't cover travel expenses. There's a chance your health insurance and pension will be deducted from that too, assuming they cover it.

If you're working for a Japanese company, you'll probably be working a lot more hours, and taking a lot less holidays than you would be in the US or UK. 4x is a low estimate for the actual amount of work you'll be doing.

the minor hue difference between the logotype and the header bothers me immensely https://i.imgur.com/U0DxLKt.png

Pretty cool. You should post this in /r/iwantoutjobs

ps, you should have an email subscription box. None of the jobs there seem right for me, but I like the concept

Thanks for the idea - I'll try and add this today

Does anybody have experience getting freelancing gigs in Japan? What does the supply/demand look like? Any ideas for finding prospects?

Technically this is illegal, as far as I know.

You're not allowed to work in Japan without a valid visa. If they find out that you're working in Japan on a tourist visa you might not be allowed back.

It'd be a grey area (also as far as I know) to say you're freelancing/working for a Japanese company while in Japan by coincidence, and I doubt that they're very forgiving if you're sidestepping a tourist visa's restrictions.

Where does it mention anything about a tourist visa?

Japan has a fairly relaxed visa system at least if you are from the western world. If you are under 30 - a working holiday visa may be good to start with:


Not available to USA folks.

We're aiming this at people who can get/already have a visa. I haven't specifically mentioned it on the front page, as I think most people who would consider applying for this would already understand the visa situation. I have mentioned the requirement on the actual "apply" page, however.

Any japanese company can get a visa for a programmer incredibly easily just by filling out a form and submitting some documentation. Very different situation from elsewhere.

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