We would like to share some tips on where and how to find work for your Working Holiday in Japan, especially if you are interested in working in mountainous areas.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we spent a winter season in Niseko on Hokkaido Island. We worked for Rhythm, a company specializing in ski equipment sales and rentals. While most of the information will be focused on ski areas in Hokkaido, we will also mention other ski regions in Japan.
The winter ski season in Japan typically starts in December and lasts until March or April, depending on snow conditions. Due to COVID-related restrictions during the 20/21 and 21/22 seasons, the 22/23 season was be the first opportunity for international skiers to enjoy the slopes in Japan and for foreign workers to seek employment there.
What kind of work can you do in ski resorts?
To work in Japan, you’ll need a work visa or a Working Holiday visa. If you’re interested in learning more about Working Holiday visas, check out our article.
Foreigners often seek jobs in hotels, rental shops, retail stores, hospitality, and related fields. Ski and snowboarding instructors are a special category. We won’t go into detail about instructors here, as those with the necessary qualifications can find work relatively easily anywhere.
What positions can you hold in Japan?
Accommodation and Hotels – Receptionist, Housekeeping, Guest Services, Ski Valet, Driver, Snow Cleaner (e.g., from building roofs, etc.)…
Hospitality – Waiter/Waitress, Chef, Barista…
Equipment Rentals and Shops – Rental Shop Worker/Technician, Retail Staff, Equipment Service Personnel, Driver, Administrative Assistant, Guest Services, Reservations Sales Agent…
Managerial positions, jobs in marketing, and human resources are also available, and these depend more on your experience.
For regular positions, you can expect to be paid around 1100 – 1700 ¥.
Where to look for work?
For foreigners, the most job opportunities can be found in areas frequented by tourists. On the island of Hokkaido, these areas primarily include Niseko, and to a lesser extent, Rusutsu, Furano, Tomamu, and Kiroro.
On the main island of Honshu, skiing is mainly concentrated in two regions, Nagano and Niigata. In Nagano, popular areas are Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen, and Shigakogen, while Myoko is a prominent destination in Niigata.
The Niseko region offers the most slopes on Hokkaido Island and is also the most popular destination for foreign visitors. Consequently, it’s the prime spot to find work. The area boasts numerous hotels, rental shops, stores, and various businesses.
Job opportunities are frequently posted on websites like this one, or you can check Kutchan, which is right next to Niseko, for listings here. Additionally, you can join The Niseko Staff Page on Facebook for updates. Of course, you can find job listings directly on employers’ websites. Simply search for different employers in the area and explore their web pages.
Here are a few examples of employers in the area:
Rusutsu, Tomamu, Kiroro, Furano
While you won’t find as many job opportunities in these areas as in Niseko, if you’re interested in working at any of these resorts, check specific company websites, such as Nisade, or go directly to the resorts’ websites:
Among foreigners seeking work, Hakuba is the most welcoming destination. You can search for job offers on the Facebook group “2022/23 Hakuba Crew.” Alternatively, explore various employers in the area, such as:
In Nozawa Onsen, consider checking websites like https://www.nozawaholidays.com/jobs/ or https://www.nozawahospitality.com/about/careers . In Myoko: https://myokosnowsports.com/employment/ or https://www.mountainhutmyoko.com/join-the-crew/
SkiJapan operates in several resorts.
As a general recommendation, we advise monitoring job offers well in advance and gradually applying for positions that interest you. The next step usually involves an online interview.
If you don’t have a job arranged in advance, it’s still possible to find work on-site, particularly in places like Niseko, but only for specific positions. However, keep in mind that it can be significantly more challenging and stressful. It’s better to have something arranged beforehand and then, if needed, consider changing jobs or finding additional work once you’re there.