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Working Remotely From Japan: The Basics For Those Working On A Holiday

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So you’re finally ready to fly to Japan for that much-anticipated (and well-deserved!) holiday—hooray! But then your phone buzzes and you get a dreaded message from a colleague at work or, worse, your boss, telling you that you have to set aside some time during your holiday to attend to something urgent. It could be a meeting, a presentation, or a report that you have to write—whatever it is, it has to be done while you are on vacation. Boo-hoo. 

This is a situation that a good fraction of the workforce is a bit too familiar with, and as unfortunate as it is, you can’t always beg off from certain responsibilities that help you put food on the table and—well—fund your trips. So what do you do? You get work done, of course! And you do so smartly. 

In this post, we’ll talk about what you should know about working while on vacation in Japan, so you can work hard and play harder. 


Can you work remotely from Japan on a tourist visa?

It goes without saying that you can’t seek employment and work in Japan on a tourist visa. That is downright illegal and you could be detained and deported if you even so much as attempt it. Working remotely from Japan, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. 

With the advent of technology, more and more individuals have adopted the “digital nomad” lifestyle and work wherever they want, however long they want. And with Japan’s inviting atmosphere, many remote workers consider making the country their base for a few weeks or a couple of months. 

This is not usually an issue, especially if you are eligible for the specified visa type “Designated Activities (Long Stay for Sightseeing and Recreation),” which is available to nationals and citizens of visa waiver countries or regions. But, if your background does not qualify for this type of visa, you might run into some serious problems. 

From time to time, authorities may conduct random checks at co-working spaces and other areas frequented by people who work remotely to verify their immigration status through the visas that they carry. If they deem you as someone suspicious, they can take you in for questioning.

Do keep in mind that at the moment, Philippine nationals and citizens are not eligible for Japan’s visa waiver rule, and thus do not qualify for the “Designated Activities (Long Stay for Sightseeing and Recreation)” visa. This doesn’t mean Filipinos are completely prohibited from taking a few calls from work or writing a report during their holiday in Japan. Filipinos are just not encouraged to work remotely from Japan for an extended period. 


Choosing Your Workspace

If you need a good place to attend a virtual meeting or write an important report, you have a wide variety of options. 

You can easily turn your hotel room into a makeshift office for a few hours, or, if you prefer being “outside,” you can sit down at a coffee shop or pay for a small space at a PC shop or a manga kissa (a 24-hour manga cafe). You can also write and dine at a family restaurant or snag a workstation booth in the capital’s major train stations for less than 250 JPY. 

The most important thing is to find a place that you will find comfortable and conducive for working. 


The Aftermath

Once you’re done with the task that interrupted your supposedly ~healing~ holiday, it’s time to fully enjoy your vacation!

We understand that this may be easier said than done, but there are some measures you can take to limit your interaction with people at work and spare yourself from the guilt of being out of the office for leisure, which, by the way, is something you should never be sorry about!

After completing your deliverables, set up your automated email response if you haven’t yet, turn off your work devices, and don’t take calls for matters that don’t require your immediate attention. Those can definitely wait. Also, make sure that there is someone back in the office who can cover for you while you are away. 

For now, go and have fun on your hard-earned vacay!


Top 5 Travel Essentials For Those Who Have To Work On A Holiday

Your Laptop or Tablet

Let’s start with the most obvious: Your laptop or tablet—or even both, if you will! You won’t be able to function without your trusty gadgets that help you get the job done, so pack them first!

Powerbank and Chargers

The last thing you want to happen is for your electronic devices to run out of battery while you are working or participating in a meeting.

See to it that you carry with you a fully juiced power bank for backup as well as chargers compatible with your devices. You might also want to bring a universal adapter in case you have to plug your drained gadget directly into an outlet. 

Noise-cancelling Headphones

If you’re sensitive to external noise while working, having noise-canceling headphones will help you get rid of distractions and stay focused on your task, boosting your overall productivity. This type of headphones also offers you a sense of privacy when you have to take calls and join virtual meetings. 

A Smart-Casual Top

In the event that you have to meet someone important online and you have to look a bit more formal than usual, having a smart-casual top ready in your suitcase will save you from all the unnecessary stress of looking for a suitable outfit. 

Pocket Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi may be accessible in most cities in Japan, but having your own access to a safe and secure network is the best way to go online! 

Stay connected to high-speed internet with your very own travel Wi-Fi device from Big Sky Nation. For as low as 190 PHP, you get to rent a portable travel Wi-Fi device that can accommodate up to five (5) devices. Check out more options here!


Have you ever had to work while on holiday? What are the tips you can share with those faced with the same situation? Sound off in the comments below!


***Featured image by Linh Nguyen on Unsplash