There is something about Japan that makes people around the world weak in the knees at the mention of its name, and for good reason. Stunning cherry blossom trees. Crisis-inducing sushi. Rich history. Mind-bending culture. Endless discoveries. Japan without question delivers.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living in Japan, au pairing is one of the best ways to do so. It’s the perfect opportunity to soak in all of its magic and quirkiness while gaining a deeper insight and experience of the country through your host family. Not to mention, you can eat sushi for literally every meal.
Japan is a dream for many, and you will find that every single moment is filled with a new discovery, a cultural difference or an utter delight (you know, like the sushi?). Japan will wrap her arms around you and whisper, “never leave my side”. Creepy? Maybe. We can’t seem to figure out how to describe her beyond that, but one thing we do know is that it can almost always be discussed over a plate of fresh, delicious, exceptional sushi.
Where to Start Your Au Pair Job Search
The good thing about Au-pairing is that families are typically seeking help no matter what time of the year it is. You can apply year-round!
But how and where exactly do you apply?
Any experienced au pair will tell you to check out aupairworld.com, which known to be the number one website for finding jobs. And of course, there’s Facebook, filled with various groups like World Au Pair in Japan, where you can connect with seeking families and even contact and ask questions to the other group members/au pairs who are already in Japan. Some other popular websites for job hunting include, aupair.com and greataupair.com.
Choosing a Family
The key to a killer au pair experience, however, is finding the ultimate host family. This can make or break your entire stay. So be sure to check that the family lives in a safe area, maybe find out what their children’s ages are ahead of time, what the working hours are expected of you, and if you need any special certifications like CPR or a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language certification). Many parents hire English speaking au pairs so their child can learn English from you as well. You’ll also want to know if you will be living in their home or if they will be providing you with a separate living space. Write down every question you have and be sure to ask them so you’re not surprised when you arrive.
There is no au pair program founded in Japan specifically. To work and live in Japan as an au pair, you’ll need to apply for a “Working Holiday Visa”.
Japan accepts “Working Holiday Visas” for natives of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
When entering Japan, an initial stay of six months is granted. The Immigration Authorities in Japan will extend the visa for another six months after an overview. So as long as you’re not doing anything you shouldn’t be doing, you’ll be granted to reside and work in Japan for a duration of 12 months.
Au pairs aged 18-30 can apply for a single-entry visa, however it should be noted that when applying for a “Working Holiday Visa”, you will be asked to show proof of sufficient funds (up to $2,000) to support yourself during your beginning stages of your time in Japan as well as sufficient funds of an exit ticket out of Japan if and/or when necessary.
Au Pair Salary in Japan
Your salary and flight reimbursement vary will depend on what you and your host family agree upon. But typically, au pairs of Japan will work around 25-35 hours per week with a stipend of $400-$500 per week.
Of course, this information is generalized given that Japan does not have a core au pair program. Visas also vary for each country. Be sure to speak with the Japanese embassy in your country for detailed information.
Popular Cities to Au Pair in Japan
Tokyo is the most popular city in Japan to live and work given its extreme safety, convenience, status, and ability to meet other au pairs just like you! Like mentioned before, Facebook groups are the best way to reach out, connect, meet up, and explore with other expats around Tokyo.
There are endless things to see, do, eat, and try in Tokyo, as it is one of the most bustling, established, and attractive cities on the planet. You certainly will never find yourself feeling bored in this city.
If Tokyo seems like too much of an overwhelming place for you to live and work in, remember that Japan has yet to officially establish an au pair program, so other smaller cities around the country (such as Osaka) may be limited or difficult for finding au pair work. However, if you dig deep enough and do some research, you may be able to find something.
Cost of Living
Japan is known to have a higher cost of living, especially compared to its neighbors like China and South Korea. You can compare the prices to if you were to live in Chicago or Sydney.
One should expect to pay around $10-$12 for a basic lunchtime meal and around $75-$100 for a monthly transportation pass.
Typically, an au pair in Japan will not be required to pay rent, as their host family provides housing for them. But the ability to live within the means of your agreed upon monthly stipend is strongly suggested.
Something worth noting is that even though Japan is an incredibly high-tech country, cash is still considered to be king. Be prepared to pay with cash in most places (restaurants, convenient stores), as well as receive cash payments from your host family. Most au pairs tend to wire money into the bank account of their home country via a Western Union. Cash can be pulled from any ATM throughout the city.
Another thing to note is that in the Japanese culture, removing your shoes before entering a home is a must. It is a major sign of disrespect if you don’t. Some restaurants, temples, and stores require this as well. Be sure to take a good look around before you enter any of these places. Chances are if there is a pile of shoes at the door, yours are coming off as well or you will be denied entry.
If you really want to impress your host family in Japan, we recommend learning a few basic words and phrases before arriving, which is considered to be highly impressive in the Japanese culture. Simple things like “hello” “thank you” “please” “where’s the bathroom?” “excuse me” can make a world of a difference for you, and maybe even spark an interest to pick up on Japanese entirely.
But whether you’re able to perfect your pronunciation of “Konichiwa” or not, we guarantee you’re in for an experience of a lifetime.