If you are currently working in Japan, you might be feeling the economic effects of COVID-19. Here are a few alternatives for part-time work that might help you through the slowdown.
With the spread of COVID-19 around the globe, world economies are dwindling. Japan was one of the first countries to report cases, and one of the first to feel the dire effects on its economy. The tourism industry has been hit hard by the sudden lack of Chinese travelers, which normally make up the biggest numbers of visitors to Japan. Hospitality and tourism industries in particular are feeling the effects of the social distancing campaign.
Reports of tourism-related businesses like rural ryokan or kimono rental places in Kyoto temporarily closing down are making the rounds. And the trickle-down effect through society has many freelancers, companies and entrepreneurs struggling with empty schedules.
But some industries are still unaffected or even in higher demand due to the social distancing efforts. Here are a few alternatives for part-time work to hopefully help you through the crisis.
Disclaimer: We aren’t recruiters or job market experts. The COVID-19 crisis is still evolving and things are changing quickly, on an ongoing basis. This article is written as an initial guide for those already in Japan and who might be in a bit of pickle job-wise. You need a valid visa to work in Japan.
Babysitting and cram schools
With schools closed until April, babysitters and nannies are in probably historically high demand now. Traditionally, the Japanese rely less on nannies than those in the West. However, with working moms bearing the brunt of the Japanese government’s decision to close schools, they are now looking for babysitters, nannies, and day cares to bridge the gap.
If you have experience working with children, this might be something you might want to look into. There are online platforms for babysitters, as well as private day cares that specialize in English-language child minding. Finally, Japanese cram schools also offer English classes and some are looking for more teachers to meet their increased demand now, as we saw on for example the Gaijinpot job board.
Online English lessons
Many English schools, known as eikaiwa in Japan, have canceled lessons during March to comply with social distancing. Part-time or contract English teachers have been hit especially hard, as they are usually the first to be let go or have their hours cut.
But the demand for English lessons has not completely waned; many students are now looking at Skype lessons as an alternative. There are a number of companies that hire teachers for online lessons only, as well as sites that match students and teachers after registering with a simple profile.
Giving lessons online also means that you aren’t limited to Japan: there are a lot of high school students in China currently at home that are looking for English tutors. This blog has a useful list of sites that connect students and online English tutors.
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Convenience stores and supermarkets
There are two main industries that hire foreigners for part-time work in Japan (besides the ubiquitous English teaching): tourism and hospitality–think ski resorts, hotels, and izakaya, which are suffering the most now—plus convenience stores and supermarkets.
People’s demand for daily goods is unchanged (toilet paper, anyone?). If you speak at least intermediate-advanced level Japanese, then working at a convenience store or supermarket is an option, especially for those who aren’t native English speakers. Hourly rates usually start somewhere around ¥1,200 and go up for late shifts and weekend work. My navi baito is a part-time job site for international students and has a whole section dedicated to convenience store and supermarket work. Yolo Japan also lists similar jobs.
Telecommuting had long been underutilized in Japan—until the COVID-19 crisis hit. Now, some companies struggle with IT systems and servers not quite in place yet to support most of their employees working from home. It’s unknown how long the social distancing campaign will last; however, it is thought that this newly introduced measure will equate to a long-term remote working trend in Japan. For those with experience in this industry, jobs and business opportunities are expected to increase. Daijob is a site that compiles jobs in the IT sector.
If all else fails
Sell your stuff online
Desperate times, desperate measures? If you find yourself with a bit more time on your hands, why not get into some Mari Kondo–style decluttering? There may be a few gems buried in your closet that you could be selling. There are a number of Facebook groups for this purpose, but we find you generally get better prices if you sell items on an online platform like Mercari. The process is actually quite fast and straightforward and can be done even without perfect Japanese knowledge.
Take a break and study
Or, if you can afford it, why not use your free time to go back to school? Upskilling could help your career in the long run, as could improved Japanese language skills. One option is Code Chrysalis, a three-month coding bootcamp course. Temple University Japan offers a whole spectrum of continuing education courses from business law to interior design. They have a number of discounts available too (e.g. for residents of Setagaya Ward). Japanese language schools also suffer from plummeting visitor numbers to Japan and might offer deals or discounts if you sign up now. It is definitely worth asking.