“I’m a bit of a control freak. But for someone who needs to plan everything, I just went with the flow when I came to Japan. I was considering two options after finishing university back home in Spain: unpaid internships that may lead to an actual position or go abroad and learn languages. I remember thinking if I don’t go now, maybe I’ll never go. So here I am working in Japan. I’ve given guided tours to Japanese and foreigners alike, worked for a destination management company (planning corporate trips, tours, gala dinners, etc.), and organized events in the fashion industry. After five years in Japan, I feel like I’ve seen most of it. Although witnessing unreasonable clients demand a helicopter transport them from Sapporo to Niseko during a snowstorm definitely takes the cake. Even my experience working for a ‘black company’ pales in comparison.
“So what do I say when people ask me what it takes to have a long and fulfilling career in Japan? It sounds like a cliché but I tell them they need to have goals to stick to even when life gets confusing. Especially in Japan, where employers sometimes determine your career path or pigeonhole you, you need to think purposefully about your career advancement and not place your complete trust on companies. Focus on what you can learn even from the bad experiences, because trust me, nobody is going to come and make it easy for you. That’s why whenever I’m not happy anymore, I always check the job market, and surely enough, opportunities come.
“Of course, the other thing is you have to enjoy your life. All countries have their good and bad things. You just need to find the place where you’re willing to deal with the bad things. Because in Spain, people are friendly and I kind of miss that. Here, people are cold (although I’m sure it’s different when you go outside Tokyo). Also, I learned how to put on a kimono in 10 minutes at my first job and got to travel a lot. It’s very easy and safe to move around Japan. I’ve traveled solo many times. Anywhere you go, you’re not going to find a society like this where everyone follows the rules, and no one says anything. Nobody will steal your stuff because it’s not theirs.”
*A black company (ブラック企業 Burakku Kigyō) is a Japanese term that means demanding or even exploitative employers who expect you to work for extremely long hours.