Kim Youn A, who lived in Korea, longed for the Tokyo life like in dramas and decided to work for a Japanese hotel. However, the company informed her that her workplace would be Miyakojima, 1800 km from Tokyo.
In a sense, it is like a drama, one about chasing after one’s dreams. In half a year, Kim had decided to change jobs to pursue her ideal life. We spoke to Kim, who through WeXpats Jobs made a long-distance career change to a hotel in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Life Of My Dreams… Ended Up Being Miyakojima Island Life
― First of all, can you tell us how you got your previous job at a hotel on a remote island?
When looking for a job in Japan from Korea, I got a job at a company that operates hotels all over Japan. During the job interview, I told them clearly that I would refuse the job if it wasn’t in Tokyo or Osaka, but after my residence status was issued, I was told that my workplace would be on Miyakojima. Upon looking up the location of the island (far south of Okinawa main island), it turned out that it was closer to Taiwan than Tokyo (laugh)
But since I had already gotten a residence status, I could always change jobs later. I came to Japan lightheartedly and started life on the resort island without any preparations.
― Wow !? How should I put it… that’s spectacular. Was it not difficult living on a remote island?
Dorms were provided, and there was a Don Quijote (a large Japanese store that sells everything from groceries to household appliances) nearby, so simply living there wasn’t a problem. My Japanese was also good, I got used to the workplace quickly, and had no major complaints about the job. However, it was still my dream to live in Tokyo…
― In the first place, why did you want to live in Tokyo?
This is embarrassing to say during a serious interview, but it’s because I want to bump into “ikemen” actor Masaki Suda (菅田将暉) while in town.
I started studying Japanese because I was hooked on Japanese entertainment, but was setback by Kanji memorisation… But then, Masaki Suda appeared in a drama I was watching at that time, and I thought “I want to speak to this person in Japanese!” which motivated me to resume my studies.
― How passionate!
Also, I have many good friends living in Tokyo, so I was hoping to hang out with them as well.
― The “might as well while seeing Masaki Suda” way you said it (laughs)
They’re really dear friends of mine (laughs). The reason my Japanese was able to improve is because they taught me many things in place of a teacher.
― So that’s why your Japanese is so good. In terms of JLPT, you’re probably at N1 level, but you don’t have any Japanese language qualifications, do you?
That’s right. My previous Miyakojima hotel job hired me without a JLPT qualification, so I, thinking I didn’t need the test, didn't take it. However, because of that, I ended up struggling with changing jobs……
Before signing up with WeXpats Jobs, I used a different recruitment agency. They told me that it would be difficult to get a hotel job in Tokyo without a qualification (JLPT) to prove my Japanese language skills. I couldn’t even get a job interview. I was confident that I could show my Japanese language skills if I could only get an interview, so it was frustrating to be disqualified at the document screening stage.
1 Month After Signing-Up with WeXpats Jobs, I’m Off to Tokyo!
― That’s when you signed up with WeXpats Jobs, and found a hotel job in Tokyo right. How did the job change go?
Thinking there’s no harm in trying, I applied to a few hotel jobs in Tokyo and immediately got a phone call from a career advisor. I prepared myself to be told “it’ll be difficult without JLPT”... but after speaking with the career advisor who confirmed my Japanese language skills, was told “with how well you can speak Japanese, it is possible to get hired”. After which, the career advisor carefully selected job openings for me.
Just as the career advisor said, I was immediately hired by the first company applied to. It was about 1 month after I signed up.
Honestly, I got the job so fast that I was worried I couldn’t move in time. If anyone reading this is considering a long-distance job change, be careful because you will become crazy busy with apartment contracts and moving companies (laughs)
― Congratulations on the new job. How was your new workplace?
It is very easy to work! I had the impression that Tokyo people are cold, but that wasn’t the case at all. I’m surrounded by kind people at my job. Certainly, compared to the previous job, this one is more serious (business-like), but I’m the type of person who likes to keep my work and private life separate, so I rather like the sense of distance.
For example, in the previous job, senior staff spoke in a casual manner to junior staff. It made me wonder, “Is this how Japanese workplaces are?” But at my current workplace, we use honorific language (keigo) regardless of position, and I feel comfortable with the mutual respect we have for each other.
― You changed jobs from hotel to hotel, did your previous work experience come in useful?
In my previous job, I was entrusted with a leadership role overlooking the foreign national employees. I was responsible for their mistakes, dealt with guest complaints, and honestly a lot of difficult tasks, but from there, I acquired the ability to serve guests with a sense of responsibility in any situation.
If I were to feel hurt by every unreasonable occurrence, I’d be emotionally worn out. Therefore, I think it is sometimes necessary to protect yourself by treating it just as a job, even while offering sincere hospitality (omotenashi) with all your heart.
― I think that is important. Have you gotten used to Tokyo life?
Yes. On my days off, I often go drinking with my Japanese friends. I haven’t met Masaki Suda yet, but Tokyo is great because there are so many izakayas (laughs)
To continue living in Tokyo, I will continue working hard at my current workplace. My seniors have told me that they are sure I can become a full-time employee, so my goal for now is to be good enough to be promoted to full-time employee!
What is WeXpats Jobs?
WeXpats Jobs is a job site for foreign nationals who want to work in Japan. There are jobs in a variety of industries including hotel jobs mentioned in this interview.
You can search for jobs in 11 languages (English, Vietnamese, Korean, Indonesian, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Burmese, Thai, Spanish, Portuguese), including Japanese, so it’s fine even if you don't have confidence in your Japanese. There are 2 patterns for finding jobs !
① Search Jobs Yourself
Find jobs that suit you by specifying your Japanese language level, occupation, location, and etc.
② Receive Job Offers from Companies
Complete a short questionnaire to receive information about jobs you can apply to that match your work experience and desired work conditions. It’s completely free to use, so register as a member using the button below to find a job that suits you!
If you are particularly interested in hotel employment, you can check the list of hotel job openings available by clicking on the button below. These jobs are the embodiment of Japanese omotenashi. If you would like to take up the challenge, we look forward to hearing from you.
※ You can register from outside Japan, but only those living in Japan can apply for jobs.