*As of June 2020, the number of job vacancies at restaurants in Japan is temporarily decreasing due to the coronavirus. Please note that this article was written in December 2019.
As of 2018, over 167,000 foreigners were working in Japan with legal work visas.
Some have Skilled Labor Visas, this is for chefs with 10 years of experience cooking cuisine other than Japanese cuisine, some have Student Visas which allow them to work up to 28 hours / week, some have Working Holiday Visas so they can work full-time in Japan for a year, and others have Spouse Visas so they can chose a job / work place without any restrictions.
If you are curious about what kind of work visa you could get, please check out this article.
How Much Can I Earn in Japan?
For a full-time worker in Japan, the average salary is 4.3 million JPY (39,000USD) before tax.
Some jobs available offer between 2.5 – 5 million JPY / year (23,000USD to 46,000USD / year) before tax. For very experienced chefs, there are jobs out there offering between 6 and 10 million JPY (55,000USD to 91,000USD) before tax. Although the average number of days off per month is 6-8 days, working conditions have improved over the past 5 years and most shops allow two days off a week.
For part-time work, the hourly wage varies by prefecture, but in Tokyo it averages between 1,050 – 1,300 JPY / hour (9 USD to 12 USD). Restaurant workers in Japan do not receive tips, so if you work part-time your salary will be fixed according to how many hours you work.
If you would like to know more about salary rates in Japan, please see this article.
How Much Japanese is Needed to Work in Japan?
Of the 4 million people working in the Japanese food and beverage industry, about 167,000, or 4%, are foreigners. Therefore, communications are mainly in Japanese.
Only 10 – 20% of restaurants in Japan have English-speaking staff.
If you plan to work in a normal restaurant, you need at least daily-conversation level Japanese (N-4 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test). To gain this level of Japanese, it takes 300 – 600 hours of studying.
However, as the number of foreign tourists has been increasing rapidly in recent years (32 million tourists visited Japan in 2019), the number of shops using English to communicate is also gradually increasing. In places like Niseko in Hokkaido, Hakuba in Nagano, or Kyoto, Okinawa, etc.
where there are many foreign tourists, some people are able to find jobs without being able to speak Japanese.
In addition, head chefs at authentic Italian, French, Thai, Chinese, and Indian restaurants are often foreign chefs with more than 10 years of experience, and they are hired even though they don’t speak Japanese.
When you can speak / read / write Japanese fluently
If you can write your resume in Japanese and are confident that you can speak fluently in Japanese during an interview, you can search for a job the same way as a Japanese person.
Search via Google and Apply on Your Own
If there’s a shop you want to work at, search using the shop’s name and keywords like “job offer” (求人) or “recruitment” (募集).
Sometimes job postings are listed on the business website or it’s Facebook or Instagram page.
Check Job Ads in Magazines / Websites in Japan
Recruitment sites and magazines specializing in the food and beverage industry, such as Gourmet Caree (グルメキャリー) and Cookbiz (クックビズ ) etc. offer information on jobs in high-class sushi restaurants or Japanese restaurants, French, Italian, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Indian etc.
There are also job opening in shops that are mainly drinking establishments, such as Izakayas, Irish pubs, bars, etc.
Register with a Recruitment Agency
Let the consultant know what kind of job you are looking for and what kind of salary you need and they will search for a good match.
Going to job fairs to meet with hiring managers directly is another way to find a job.
There are also job fairs for international students (those who are fluent in Japanese) who are attending culinary schools and universities.
When your Japanese is not fluent
Most job listings in Japan are in Japanese, therefore, the resume submitted should also be in Japanese.
If you are not fluent in Japanese, we recommend that you search for a job in the foreign community in Japan, where you can apply in English and other languages.
Job websites for English speakers in Japan
Popular English language websites such as Gaijinpot, Metropolis etc., have job listing for foreigners in Japan.
There are also websites like Food Job Japan that specializes in jobs for foreigners in the food and beverage industry. We at Chefs Wonderland, also have a Job Listing section for foreigners, so please take a look.
Register with a recruitment agency
Rather than a domestic agency, it might be better to register with an agency that focuses on bilingual personnel, such as Daijob, Hays Japan, or Robert Walters. Many of their clients are foreign-affiliated hotels, so you may be able to get a job in a hotel restaurant or bar.
Also, by getting started in the food and beverage industry you may be able to switch to another field (i.e.: food and beverage related IT companies). The career consultants of such agencies can also speak English so you can gain more information on job trends for foreigners in Japan.
Job boards for Working Holiday Visa holders
If you have a working holiday visa in Japan, you can try the job boards provided by the Japan Working Holiday Association. Besides jobs in local restaurants and the like, they have a variety of postings like farm jobs and winter sports rental shops etc.
For those who are interested in working holiday visa in Japan, please refer this article.
Go to the place you want to work and talk with them
If there’s a place you really want to work, just go there and talk to them directly, tell them honestly your desire to learn about the food and services they offer, and see if there is space for you to work one or two days a week, as a part-time worker.
This is not just a suggestion for foreigners, this is how Japanese people often seek a job, going repeatedly to a shop that they love until they get a chance to work there.
Whether foreigner or Japanese, if the owner sympathizes with how you feel, you may get an opportunity to work.
Keep in mind, if you get a chance to work and also be paid, you will need a legal working visa.
Please check in advance what kind of work you can legally do with your status of residence.
Culinary Schools in Japan
Chefs Wonderland is a website for food lovers who want to work or take cooking classes in Japan. If you are interested in taking cooking classes, we recommend the following schools.
At Aman we are on a mission to create the world’s ultimate luxury lifestyle brand; hotels, resorts, experiences and products which transform our guests’ perspectives and daily lives. To achieve our ambitions, we capitalise on our unique combination of world-class and diverse talent, unmatched design, and access to locations, cultures and experiences few are privy to. We live by the ‘Aman way of life’ – a mindset shared by our guests and employees which creates a lifelong sense of belonging driven by our values of:
Invest in individuality – fostering an environment where each person can push boundaries, take risks and challenge norms.
Nurture pathfinder spirit – exploring experiences, opportunities and locations which transform into new exciting ventures.
Act like owners – taking the charge, leading by example and an immense sense of pride in their work.
Celebrate communities – ensuring that every member of our community is looked after and nurtured in a compassionate, respectful and collaborative manner.
This position is located at our property Aman Tokyo, in Japan.
The Chef de Cuisine – The Cafe by Aman the overall administration and operation of the The Cafe by Aman section to ensure maintenance of quality standards, financial performance and profitability, staff performance and guests satisfaction.
- Ensures that the departmental operating budget is strictly adhered to and that all costs are strictly controlled.
- Monitors food costs while maintaining quality control.
- Attends meetings and briefings with other department heads as determined by the Executive Chef.
- Ensures that all reports and correspondences are completed punctually and accurately.
- Reviews existing policies in his department and initiates new ones as required.
- Submits monthly report to Executive Chef detailing department’s activities for the past month and plan activities in the ensuing month.
- Ensures that all employees report for work punctually wearing the correct uniform and name tag at all times.
- Assists in the building of an efficient team of employees by taking an active interest in their welfare, safety, training and development.
- Ensures that employees have a complete understanding of and adhere to company’s Code of Conduct.
- Interviews and subsequently selects potential employees in liaison with the HR Department.
- Conducts employees’ performance appraisal and reviews their general performance, discuss result with the employee concerned regularly.
- Conducts department orientation program for new employees to ensure they understand the policies and operations of the hotel.
- Ensures that all staff provides a courteous and professional serve at all times.
- Counsels staff members for any breaches of conduct and observe policies when issuing formal disciplinary notice.
- Constantly reviews and appraises the procedures within the department to ensure quality of service and product all the time.
- Monitors the staff skills within the department and plans training programs to rectify any service deficiencies.
- Conducts regular briefings with the department staff ensuring good communication at all times.
- Ensures that overtime within the department is minimized and authorized.
- Ensures that all areas within the department are in the roster and corrects staffing levels in accordance with expected business demands.
- Maintains an up-to-date knowledge of any market/industry trends and implements to the operation as necessary.
- Orders stocks efficiently and minimizes any wastage of excessive expense.
- Liaises with F&B Manager with respect to menu composition and daily specials.
- Ensures that all equipment is maintained in good working condition at all times.
- Ensures that all kitchen and store areas are maintained in a clean and hygienic condition and in accordance with local regulation.
- Ensures stock take of all equipment, recording any loss or breakage thereof.
- Ensures that perishables supplied are fresh and quality is to the specified standard.
- Liaises with Front Office / F&B / Aman Club with regards to any dietary or special guest request.
- Keeps abreast of all company policies, HACCP rules and code of conduct by reading and understanding all guidelines issued pertaining to such matters; and performing such duties and functions as specified in the guidelines
- 5+ years’ experience as Sous Chef or 2+ year’s as Head Chef or Chef de Cuisine of French or Italian
- Experience in luxury hotel or fine dining is an advantage
- Ability to develop unique and creative recipes and menus
- Ability to manage multiple kitchens
- P&L & Budgeting skills
- Collaborates effectively and has strong interpersonal skills.
- Deep knowledge of the food industry and trends
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills