5 Ways to be Engaged and Make Extra Money in Japan Apart from Teaching English

Like many other African students in Japan who have the opportunity to do a part-time job of 28 hours a week, it is not hard to soon find out that there are not many options for part-time jobs apart from teaching English. And coupled with odds such as (i) Not being considered a native speaker or more preference for native-speaking applicants (ii) Little or no Japanese language proficiency, and (iii) not much opportunities for foreigners in general (depending on which city you live in), there is little or non-existent options for such openings.

I have been in this situation and it has made me think of alternatives to the  ‘traditional’ part-time jobs suitable for African students, or anyone living in Japan at all.

The following are the options I have considered, tried or trying, which I think anyone can also venture into. Note that each option has varying degrees of starting or getting into so I will start from the simplest to the hardest in my opinion. Overall, it depends on whoever is going into any of these. One more thing is that they are all internet based, so it is not limited by language, or country or region. Once again, internet to the rescue!


Most people dismiss this simple, yet effective channel because they think it is just about writing things on the internet. But as simple as it is, people make a ton out of this. This simply works by providing interesting contents (could be anything) on a web page and monetizing through advertisements and other various means. This article breaks it down easily.  And you do not even need to know how a website works to thrive in this. In my opinion, if you already have a Facebook page, then you already have enough skills to get started, even at little or no cost. Additional skills needed could include Photography, Graphic Design, Web design.


This is by far the easiest I think, and through which you can make a decent amount of money. It is as easy as having an email address. If you have a google account, then you are already a potential YouTuber. Good thing is, you do not need any specialization to get started. If you have a smartphone made after 2015,  you like public speaking, and can engage an audience then you are ready to go. See this list of richest YouTubers of 2017 to understand the potential. Combine this with blogging and you have a winning formula. Additional skills needed could include Photography, Video Editing.

Cryptocurrency Trading.

Japan is one of the few countries in the world who has legalized cryptocurrency. In the simplest non-technical terms, cryptocurrency is the money you cannot see but can still use for transactions. You can see more details here, but frankly, that is all you need to know to get started. Imagine if you can easily trade company stocks, except that, it is not stocks but virtual money. And this is totally legal in Japan. All you need is to be legitimately living in Japan, create a cryptocurrency trading account (can complete within a week), then you are good to go. And since this is trading, you will need some startup cash, but you can start with as low as 5000 yen.

Web/App/Software developer/designer.

This one is maybe on the farther end of the spectrum, but with the internet, this is very worthwhile, and would even be still relevant if or after you leave Japan. While here in Japan, I have contracted software engineers from outside Japan with no hassle. Yes, it requires a learning curve and some considerable effort but it is totally worth it in my opinion (much more than the best opportunity in a convenience store or elementary school). There are tons of free courses online to learn the necessary skills and you can start putting your skill to use immediately as there are many opportunities over the internet for this skills. You just need to find them out. With this skill, no one cares where you are from, but what you can do. I know this because I have experienced it. This website offers good resource if you are interested. You need an inspiration, check out this Japanese Grandma who taught herself to code and make apps from scratch.

Freelance Everything (On the Internet).

This is coming last because it fits into all the categories. I mean there are a ton of websites on the internet where you can offer a skill or service for someone who needs it, at a price. Once again, no limitations. It is all about solving someone’s problem. So if you have a skill or can offer a service that has not been mentioned above, chances are there is a freelance website for you already. A simple “XXXXXXX freelance” on any search engine will help here. I personally like; Fiverr and Upwork, but there are more. So go ahead, search away.

Honourable Mention – Social Media.

Social Media is a great tool, but less 5% of people use it for business purpose. I have seen very interesting and inspiring stories of people making a living out of social media. If they can, you also can. This 89-year-old Japanese Grandma took Instagram to whole new, hilarious level. This Japanese man paints in Excel and sells on social media. These are carefully chosen examples to let you know that there is really no limitation to what you can do, even with all the odds in Japan. Nuf Said!


Written by Joshua Owoyemi

Joshua Owoyemi is a Robotics and Machine Learning PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Japan. He is also the first Nigerian self-driving car engineer from Udacity.
He loves sharing technology insights through writing and has a passion for development in Africa. See his other articles on Medium. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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