For those interested in pursuing a career as a writer in Japan, it is important to have multiple clients. It’s also helpful to have one of them sponsor your visa.
Holly has written for a number of expat publications, and her work has appeared in The Mom Egg, Happy, Wingspan (All Nippon Airways’ inflight magazine), and the charity benefit anthology Tomo. She also teaches creative writing at a university in Yokohama.
Writers in Japan
Generally speaking, there are many English-language writing jobs for foreigners in Japan. But securing these writing jobs can be difficult and competitive. Moreover, writing as a steady career in any country requires a lot of self-motivation and content that can captivate readers.
One option is to work for English-language publications in Japan such as Tokyo Time Out, iNTOUCH and Weekender. These publications tend to be easier for new writers to break into and are great places to build a portfolio that can lead to full-time writing jobs elsewhere.
Travel writing is also a popular way to write for the English-speaking media in Japan. But be wary of low pay levels for this type of writing, especially when working with branded content and online publications. These types of publications often do not pay professional freelance rates and may exoticize or fetishize Japan or Japanese culture in their content.
Finding Writing Jobs in Japan
Writers in Japan can find work by submitting to English-language magazines and newspapers, such as Tokyo Time Out, The Japan Times, iNTOUCH, Weekender, or Tokyo Cheapo. These publications tend to be fairly easy for new writers to break into and are good opportunities to get clips that can be used to target other work.
More and more Japanese companies need engaging content written in English for their websites or social media. This type of writing is known as content writing and is an increasingly important area for freelance writers.
Holly Thompson, a fiction writer who writes for a range of print and online outlets, including the Tokyo Times and All Nippon Airways inflight magazine Wingspan, says that networking is key to finding writing jobs in Japan. She also recommends creating a portfolio of writing samples, even if this means writing for free on occasion. As the expat community grows, so too will the demand for English-language writing jobs in Japan.
Writing Jobs in Japan Online
Writing-related jobs in Japan can include freelance content writing, translation work and editing. The demand for English-language writers in Japan is growing due to an increasing number of visitors and a growing expat community.
However, if you plan to make your career in this field, you will need a lot of motivation and strong content to make it happen. It’s a good idea to build up your portfolio, even if it means occasionally writing for free.
Louise and Holly recommend that would-be expat writers join organizations in order to meet people and learn from them. They also suggest that writers find ways to help each other, such as by sharing resources or by co-publishing. Holly has written three books while living in Japan, including children’s picture books and a novel, and she says that her success is due to a lot of hard work and networking with other authors. She has also learned to be flexible, and she has taken on a variety of other jobs, including teaching.
Writing Jobs in Japan for Foreigners
For those wanting to make writing their full-time focus, there are English-language publications in Tokyo aimed at expats that offer regular work. This can be a good way to get experience, build a portfolio, and network.
However, these magazines tend to pay less than professional freelance rates and don’t always understand copyright and writers’ rights. They also tend to be prone to exoticizing and fetishizing Japan, which can be frustrating for a writer who wants to present a more accurate picture of the country.
Despite these challenges, several expats have launched multifaceted portable careers that include writing. The key to success, they say, is finding the right balance of work that suits your goals and demonstrating your ability to meet deadlines. With a bit of imagination, motivation, and the right content, it’s possible to turn your writing into a steady career in any country. Read on to learn how some of them did it. Then, check out our guide to freelance writing jobs in Japan for more information on what’s available and how to land them.