Working a ski season in Japan is an unforgettable experience. Kick-start your Japanese adventure by following these steps.

Interested in experiencing some of the deepest and lightest powder in the world? Dream of getting paid to do what you love? Keen to experience a new culture and way of life? Here is how you go about preparing your dream ski season in Japan.

Securing a Visa

The first step you will need to take before your Japanese adventure can begin is ensuring that your presence in Japan is legal. You will need a Working Holiday Visa, which allows you to live and work in Japan for up to a year.

If you are under the age of 30 and your home country has entered into the Working Holiday Visa scheme with Japan then you will be eligible for this visa. For a complete list of countries that are involved in this scheme check here.

Niseko Japan powder skiing

Japan is blessed with some of the deepest and lightest powder in the world.

You will need the following in order to apply for the visa:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of reasonable funds
    It is important to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to purchase a return flight to Japan as well as to maintain yourself while in Japan. A letter or statement from your bank should be sufficient.
  • Working Holiday Visa application form
  • A CV typed on a single A4 sheet
    As you are intending to get a job in Japan, you must show that you are capable and qualified enough to get offered one. A simple CV that clearly shows a number of qualifications and/or past job experience will suffice.
  • A proposed Itinerary for your stay in Japan typed on a single A4 sheet
    A concise but detailed description of your planned stay in Japan. It doesn’t need to be accurate, but it does need to reflect a balance between work and holiday.
  • Written reason for applying for the visa (single A4 sheet)
    It is important to show your enthusiasm for visiting Japan in this writing. Describe what has intrigued you about Japan and what you want to gain from spending a year living in the country.
  • A passport photograph (35mm by 45mm) taken with the last 6 months

Once you have gathered all of the above, make your way to the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate. Each Embassy or Consulate will have its own website. It’s worth checking these out prior to visiting, as opening times and requirements may vary depending upon location.

At the Embassy you will have to pay a small Visa processing fee, this will rarely be over £20 (US $25). It is recommended that you pay in cash. Once they have the fee and all of your papers, it shouldn’t take long for them to confirm that you will receive the visa. They’ll instruct you to come back in around 5 working days to collect your passport with the visa inside. Make sure you don’t need your passport for the week that you apply!

ski instructor Japan

As the number of international visitors to Japan’s ski resorts rises, so does the demand for international instruction.

Ski Asia Tips

The Japan Association for Working Holiday Makers is a great starting point for any further information on securing your visa.

As you are only entitled to one Working Holiday Visa, it may be wise to reverse these steps and secure your winter season job before applying for the visa. However…

It is important to note that, for some countries, the number of Working Holiday Visas is limited and that they are released on a first come first served basis. In the past this has rarely been an issue, but as the popularity of the Japanese winter grows, it is hard to tell how the demand for visas will respond.

Finding a Job

With your visa secured you are ready to start applying for jobs. In Japanese-run ski resorts, it is very difficult to find jobs working directly for the resort, for example as a lift operator. These types of jobs tend to go to locals or applicants with fluency in Japanese. Instead, you have two main options if you want to live and work in a ski resort in Japan:

1. Ski Instructor

As the number of international visitors to Japan’s ski resorts rises, so does the demand for international instruction. As ski schools seek to satisfy this rising demand every season greater numbers of Working Holiday Visa-equipped instructors are hired. With a good qualification and any experience at all you will likely be able to pick from several job offers. Don’t despair if you are a lower level instructor either, many resorts will use large numbers of level one instructors to bolster their school during peak times.

A skier at Yakebitaiyama Shiga Kogen

There are plenty of jobs going in the ski resorts of Japan. If you try hard enough your dream season can be yours!

To apply for a ski instructor job in Japan you should check out the individual ski schools as they will go about it differently. Here is a list of some of the ski schools in Japan with international staff and a dedicated English-language program.

Niseko United:

Gondola Snowsports
Niseko Base Snowsports
Niseko International Ski School
Niseko Village


Rusutsu Ski School


Kiroro Ski School


Evergreen International Ski School

2. Hospitality/Service

In the major Japanese ski resorts there is a great demand for international staff for the growing number of hotels, restaurants and bars that look to cater for international guests.

There are many websites out there that will help you find the ideal job for you. You can check out the Ski Asia jobs page which provides listings for jobs throughout Japan.

Looking for a job? Send out as many applications as possible. There are plenty of jobs going in the ski resorts of Japan. If you try hard enough your dream season can be yours!

What to bring

Living in Japan you will enjoy the convenience stores and supermarkets that are full of things you might not easily find in your home country. Being able to purchase an enormous octopus tentacle on a whim is certainly different. You will however be a world away from some products that could be deemed essential to life.

For starters you will find it difficult to come by any health related items that you may need. This makes it crucial that you bring any prescription medication with you.

Living in Japan you will enjoy the convenience stores and supermarkets that are full of things you might not easily find in your home country.

Dental hygiene is another common complaint of working holidayers. It may not be true that all of the Japanese toothpastes lack fluoride or the generalisation that the Japanese have poor dental hygiene may lack in substance. But, it is hard, with little or no Japanese, to interpret the various tubes of toothpaste on offer. It is recommended to bring your own supply of Colgate with you, otherwise this wonderful article might help you to navigate through the complex world of Japanese dentistry.

When looking to spend a year travelling through Japan you may at some point be contemplating driving. If this is the case then you will need an international driving licence. This document, essentially a translation of your drivers licence, is the only way that you will be allowed behind the wheel of rental car. It isn’t possible to acquire one of these in Japan so you must pick this up before you depart your home country.

There are many other things that you’ll want to bring and there will definitely be things that you will eventually wish you brought with you. So long as you remember to bring you skis or snowboard the rest will pale into insignificance!


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