Career Guide

Hotel and Ryokan jobs in Japan

Hotel and Ryokan jobs in Japan

The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan has been rising year by year because of the world-wide Japanese culture boom and the coming 2020 Olympics (postponed to 2021), which makes foreign workforces highly demanded by hotels and ryokans in Japan.

Actually the accommodation industry is said to be facing the most severe labor shortage that over 80% of companies report lack staff. However, in the case of full-time employment, only foreigners with relevant educational or work background were allowed to work as manager under Business Administration visa, or planner under Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services visa, or cook under skilled labor (permanent resident excluded).

While for simple labor work like bed making and cleaning, foreigners were only allowed to work part-timely. The newly created working visa, Specified skilled worker, which allows up to 5 years of stay regardless of one's academic background or work history, is going to cover this need.

Hotel and ryokan job descriptions

Hotel job contents and salary

Hotel, or the well-known western hotels, has different types like:

-Business hotel. Usually located in convenient locations such as station squares, with single rooms mostly for business trips and work.

-City hotel. Located mainly in urban areas with not only single rooms, but also double, twin and large rooms for businessmen, tourists, etc.

-Resort hotel. Located in a resort area such as a ski resort, with various types of rooms and facilities for the sightseeing of families and large groups.

Job types are usually divided into:

-Accommodation section, includes front, doorman, bell person, concierge, housekeeper.

-Cooking department, includes cooking staff like chef, pastry chef and bartender, waiter/waitress, room service.

-Event section, includes wedding planner, banquet charge, service development.

-Planning/Sales department, includes manager, sales.

-Managing section, includes accounting, general affairs, public relations, human resources, and facility management.

Hotel staff earn an average annual income of 3.28 million yen. The salary tends to rise as one's experience and age increase. Social insurance, retirement allowances, commuting allowances, and night shift allowances are usually provided. Housing allowances or employee dormitories are also equipped considering early and night shifts.

Ryokan job contents and salary

Ryokan, the traditional Japanese hotel, is usually located in onsen spots and visited by both Japanese and foreign tourists. It serves guests in Japanese hospitality such as traditionally designed rooms with tatami mats, shared bathing areas, Japanese cuisines. A ryokan usually has around 14 rooms. As a small-scale hotel, ryokan's staff may need to take part in all of the following duties:


-Futon set

-Kitchen assistance like dishwashing

-Preparation of tables and serving food

-Cleaning the onsen area

The salary differs depending on the ryokan owner, one's service years and skills and has a relatively wide range. Newly regular staff earn an average annual income of 3.3 million yen, while a part-time worker earns from 830 yen to 1,140 yen per hour. Bonus, special allowances for night shifts, housing allowances or free accommodation, and commuting allowances are also provided by most ryokans.

Visa required for hotel and ryokan jobs

According to Japanese immigration laws, foreigners should only engage in the activities allowed by their visa, for example a manager under Business Administration visa can't take part in front jobs even in his or her idle time. Currently visas with work permit are as follows:

・Gold visa (specified visa: Permanent Resident, Long-term Resident, etc)

Holders of those visas granted according to family status including Spouse or Child of Japanese national, Spouse or Child of permanent resident, Long-term resident, Working holiday under Designated activities, as well as Permanent resident, are allowed to work in any industry both full-timely or part-timely. So they can work in any position above at hotels and ryokans.

・White collar visa (working visa: Skilled labor, etc)

Only foreigners with relevant academic or work history, or specific skill sets can be granted these kind of visa, including Skilled labor, Business Administration and Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International Services, which is a catch-all visa for sales, marketing, concierge, etc.

・Blue collar visa (working visa: Specified skilled worker)

Aimed to migrate foreign labor forces into low skilled works at hotels and ryokans, currently holders of this visa are only allowed to work full-timely at the front desk, planning/public relations, hospitality and restaurant services.

As Specified skilled worker No.2, which may lead to a permanent residence in Japan without limitation on renewal count, isn't applicable to accommodation industry, staff under this visa No.1 can only work in Japan for a maximum of 5 years. After expiration, he or she has to leave Japan if not changing to another valid visa.

To be eligible for this visa, foreigners only have to meet the following 3 conditions:

-Over 18 years old

-Pass prescribed skill evaluation test and Japanese language proficiency test

-Sign an employment contract with a hotel or a ryokan

A JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) N4 or an equivalent level is required for application. You will be fine if you can speak basic Japanese.

The skill test, with the name of Accommodation Business Skill Measurement Examination, is expected to be held twice a year in both Japan and overseas, however until now it has been conducted only once in domestic in April, 2019. The test consists of two parts: paper test in mark sheet type and practical skills by speaking about 5 minutes in order to measure whether the examinee has the necessary knowledge for working at hotels and ryokans.

Note that holders of other general visa like Student, Dependent can also work paid part-timely in any position after obtaining permission from immigration office. However they can't work over 28 hours per week.

To find a job at hotels or ryokans

The quickest way to find job openings must be searching the internet. A lot of job search websites post job information of accommodation industry, and some large hotels put vacancies on their official websites.

If you want to find a part-time job, try Quick Jobs Japan. It has job openings only for foreigners displayed in both English and Japanese. And you will find it really helpful that jobs can be searched by Japanese language level beginning from no Japanese speaking.

Hello Work also serve foreigners in multiple languages. Register with a nearby office, and you will be able to browse work opportunities all over Japan.