How to work and stay in Japan for a long period of time

If you are going to stay in Japan for a year, it is normal to want to move to different areas once every month or two to enjoy the local specialities. Each region of Japan is a little different in terms of food, people, culture, history, dialect, etc., and there is a wide variety of characteristics even within the same country. Few people stay in one place for a year.

So it is also natural to want to stay as cheaply as possible for a one-year working holiday visa stay. However, if you try to live in a flat in Japan, the lease is usually for two years and most real estate agents in Japan do not speak English. In urban areas such as Tokyo, there are real estate agents who can speak English, but in rural areas there are almost no real estate agents who can speak English.
Above all, to start living in a rented flat, you will have to pay a deposit, a broker’s commission and a large initial cost to buy furniture such as household appliances and beds.

So, the next option would be a shared house. In a shared house, most of the operators speak English, and the contract period is shorter than that of a normal flat. (one to three months is customary).

Market prices for share houses in Tokyo : Rent 40,000 ~ 80,000JPY (including the management fee)
Market rates for share houses in Osaka : Rent 40,000 ~ 70,000JPY (including the management fee)

As living in such a share house for a year can be very expensive, many people end up living in guesthouses or hostels for free accommodation.

Work as a work exchange staff (free accommodation staff) in Guesthouse or Hostel of Japan

Stay in dormitory as a free accommodation staff

Why do guesthouses/hostels hire a foreigner with a working holiday visa?

Not hesitant to hire foreigners

Working foreigner in JapanIn the first place, the guesthouse employs English-speaking staff because of the large number of foreign guests. Therefore, they have no qualms about employing foreigners who cannot speak Japanese.

It does not take any formalities to employ them.

Interview to work in JapanIn order to employ a foreigner, the foreigner must of course have a visa that allows them to work, but the type of work and hours they can work are restricted by their visa and the procedures differ.

In this sense, the working holiday visa is less restrictive and does not require complicated paperwork.

No labor costs

Salary of guesthouse, hostel in JapanGuesthouses or Hotels  have relatively many beds in the dormitory, and they’re not always full.
If the beds can not be occupied for a certain amount of period, it’s more profitable to have someone else use it.  Then they get to work in exchange for free housing. 
This would be cheaper than hiring part-time cleaning staff.

Friendly customer service  is important

Warm hospitality customer service in JapanThe reputation of how hospitable a guesthouse is is very important when running a guesthouse.
If a guesthouse or hostel has foreign staff, it is worth staying there because they are friendly to guests.

Able to make use of their mother tongue

Bilingual staff in hostelIf the guesthouse has a native English speaker, Japanese staff can be asked to write or read English. In guesthouses, it is very helpful if they can just check English, as they have to make and update notices on the walls.
There are some guests who do not speak English, such as Koreans and Chinese, so if there are native Korean or Chinese speaking staff in the guest house, they can interpret for them, which is also very helpful.

Ability to make use of a variety of skills other than language

DIY work in hostel by a free accommodation staffIn running a guesthouse, it is not possible to spend a large amount of money, so DIY work such as repairs and renovations have to be done on a daily basis. On the other hand, the staff working in guesthouses and hostels are relatively mostly women, so freelance staff who can do DIY tasks such as painting, repairs and carpentry are valued.
Some backpackers travelling the world do freelance work. If you are a social networker, such as a youtuber, blogger or Instagrammer, one of your jobs may be to get publicity for your guesthouse.

Why can’t foreigners with a working holiday visa work in a HOTEL as a live-in worker?

Work hotel in JapanOf course, hotels are not always full, but the work of front desk staff and cleaning staff is completely separated.

Therefore, even if there are English-speaking front desk staff, they do not carry out cleaning tasks.
On the other hand, many of the people who organise the cleaning staff do not speak English. Therefore, they hesitate to hire foreigners who do not speak Japanese. Besides, it is overwhelmingly older women who work as cleaners in hotels. As you can imagine, older people cannot speak English at all.