Work and Travel in Japan with a Working Holiday Visa (2023)


I want to work and travel in Japan,” is what many people think. Did you know you can actually do that with Japan’s working holiday system? With a working holiday visa, you too can work and travel in Japan. 

With Japan opening its borders, the working holiday programme has restarted too! It’s too late for this year, but you can still aim for the working holiday visa in 2023! In this article, we will explain the visa type and requirements for working holidays in Japan you’ll need to know! If working whilst travelling in Japan is exactly what you are looking for, then check out this article.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Japan’s “working holiday” system?
    1. Working Holiday in Japan Eligible Countries and Regions 
    2. How many people do working holidays in Japan? (2022 Statistics)
    3. How long can I stay in Japan on a working holiday visa? 
  2. Working Holiday Visa Japan Requirements and Application
  3. Important Things to Know About Working Holiday in Japan
  4. Change from Working Holiday Visa to Work Visa
  5. Summary

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What is Japan’s “working holiday” programme?

Based on bilateral agreements with partner countries and regions, the working holiday programme’s primary objective is to allow youths from Japan and other countries to spend their holidays in a foreign country whilst engaged in employment to supplement funds for their travel and stay. The aim is to deepen mutual understanding by providing opportunities to understand the culture and lifestyle of the destination country or region. 

Working Holiday in Japan Eligible Countries and Regions 

As of November 2022, as published on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website, 26 countries/regions have been granted working holidays to Japan. Since the first working holiday agreement between Australia and Japan in 1980, Japan has continued making agreements with other countries over the years. 

Each country / region has a maximum number of working holiday visas issued per year, aka yearly issue quota, so check carefully and apply early if you want to make the cut. 


Yearly Issue Quota


Yearly Issue Quota


Japan to Argentina: 200

Argentina to Japan: 400




No Limit









New Zealand

No Limit




No Limit






No Limit


No Limit


Japan to Estonia: No Limit

Estonia to Japan: 100

Republic of Korea







No Limit



Hong Kong



No Limit







The United Kingdom


※ MOFA, “The Working Holiday Programmes in Japan” [June 18, 2020]

Working Holiday in Japan Statistics (2022 Updated)

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “2019 Visa Issuance Statistics (ビザ(査証)発給統計)”, a total of 18,955 people have obtained working holiday visas to Japan. South Korea, or the Republic of Korea, held the highest number at 5,903, followed by Taiwan with 4,707 people, indicative of its high popularity among neighbouring countries. More than 1,000 people from Australia, the United Kingdom and France have obtained working holiday visas to Japan. Although not as many as the top 2 countries, it seems that working holidays in Japan are relatively popular in English-speaking countries and Europe. 

Due to the pandemic that hit Japan and the rest of the world, the number of working holiday visas issued in 2020 and 2021 were low. In 2020, less by around 15,000, only 3,715 working holiday visas were issued. Whereas in 2021, the numbers dropped even lower to a mere 210 working holiday visas issued, 207 of which were to South Korea, 2 to Canada, and 1 to Australia. 

[Note] Statistics for 2022 will be made available in May, 2023. 

※ MOFA, “ ビザ(査証)発給統計 2019, 2020, 2021

Working Holiday Period in Japan

The maximum period of stay in Japan on a working holiday is one (1) year. The period of stay cannot be extended. Those who want to work and travel in Japan should check their schedule in advance to make adjustments so they can stay for the maximum period. Many people take a long break (months or a year) from work.

※ MOFA, “The Working Holiday Programmes in Japan” [June 18, 2020]

Working Holiday Visa Japan Requirements and Application

“Working Holiday” is a specific activity and categorised as a type of “designated activities (特定活動)” visa. A working holiday visa allows the visa holder to spend a certain period of time on vacation to learn about Japanese culture and lifestyles, or work to supplement living expenses. 

Here are the requirements for a working holiday visa in Japan: 

  • Be a citizen or resident of a country / region that has a working holiday agreement with Japan
  • Main intention is to spend a holiday in Japan for a certain period of time
  • Must be between 18 and 30 years old at the time of application (restrictions vary by country)
  • Cannot bring children or dependents
  • Have a valid passport and a return ticket (enough funds for ticket purchase is also acceptable)
  • Possession of funds necessary to maintain livelihood during the initial period of stay
  • Be in good health
  • Never been issued a Japanese working holiday visa before

Vist the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country to apply for a working holiday visa. Please note that the requirements differ slightly depending on the country / region, so inquire with your embassy or consulate beforehand. 

Important Things to Know About Working Holiday in Japan

As we mentioned above, the number of times you can use the working holiday system is limited to 1, and the procedure may vary depending on your country of origin, so it is necessary to check in advance. Here are some additional points to note when visiting Japan on a working holiday.

Occupation Prohibitions

Yes, you can work whilst on a working holiday, but not in the entertainment industries. Jobs related to entertainment business include snack bars, host/hostess clubs, and pachinko parlours

Since the main purpose of the working holiday visa is to travel in Japan and learn about Japanese culture and lifestyle, with working being an incidental activity to support that purpose, there are no restrictions on work type other than prohibition of entertainment industries. There is no restriction on working hours unlike international students with status of residence “student (留学)”, so you can freely choose working hours, employment type, occupation, etc. 

Only Once

Working holidays can only be done once per country. In other words, people who have come to Japan on a working holiday visa before cannot do so again. On their next visit to Japan, it must be on a different type of visa or status of residence. 

Working holidays are the only type of visa that allows you to stay in Japan for up to 1 year with almost no work restrictions. Therefore, schedule it carefully to make the most of it. After returning from Japan, it is possible to go to a different country on a working holiday visa, provided your home country has a bilateral agreement. 

Change from Working Holiday Visa to Work Visa

Did you know that depending on the country of origin, it is possible to change to a working visa after coming to Japan on a working holiday? Countries that are possible to do this include Australia, Canada, and South Korea. Applications need to be submitted 3 months before the working holiday visa expires, so prepare in advance and schedule properly.

As for Taiwan, France, the United Kingdom, etc. countries, working visa holders must return to their home countries after the period of stay ends. If you want to return to Japan to work, you will need to use the regular work visa route and seek visa sponsorship in which your employer will apply for a “Certificate of Eligibility” on your behalf. Or, if you simply want to come to Japan on vacation, then a Japan short-term stay tourist visa (unless you are from a visa-exempt country)


A working holiday visa is a great option for those interested to travel and work in Japan. Some important things to keep in mind about this programme is that you can only use it once per country, only 26 countries / regions have agreements with Japan, and there are age and other restrictions, so check the conditions beforehand and prepare accordingly. With Japan reopening and border measures loosening, take the opportunity to apply for a Japanese working holiday visa and come to Japan in 2023! 


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