Japan Bound: Preparing for a Summer Internship in Tokyo

Internship In Japan

Japan Bound: Preparing for a Summer Internship in Tokyo

If you’re gearing up for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Tokyo, Japan, for a summer internship, you’re in for an incredible ride. 

Tokyo is a place where ancient traditions meet futuristic technology. It’s a city that buzzes with energy, innovation, and endless opportunities – just like you!

So how do you make the most of it? We’ll tell you what you need to do to get ready in this post.

Preparing for a Summer Internship in Tokyo: Your Checklist

If you want to be successful during your summer internship in Tokyo, you’ve got to be prepared! Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll want to keep in mind and get done before you head out on the experience of a lifetime.

1. Figure Out Your Passport and Visa

Here’s the best news you’ll hear all day – there’s a good chance you won’t need to get a visa for your internship in Japan. In most cases, you’ll be able to qualify for a cultural activities visa, which is for an unpaid internship that lasts less than 90 days. Alternatively, you could qualify for interning without a visa depending on your passport and where you are from. 

Even if you plan to stay a bit longer, the process isn’t that elaborate. For an internship that’s longer –  up to two years – you can get by with a general visa, which is free and just needs a passport, application form, photograph, and certificate of eligibility to apply for. 

Leave yourself plenty of time to apply for your passport. Depending on the time of year, it can take several months for the application to go through. If you already have a passport, make sure it’s eligible until after you’re supposed to get back  – that way, you don’t have to worry about any issues once you’re already in the country.

2. Purchase Travel Insurance

Nobody likes to think about the worst-case scenario, but it’s important to be prepared. Any time you travel, even for an internship, you should have travel insurance. Look into a basic plan that covers medical expenses, lost luggage, and emergency evacuation.

Similarly, take the time to square away your finances – notify your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans. 

3. Figure Out Your Accommodations

While many internship companies will help you figure this out, it’s a good idea to start researching potential accommodations ahead of time. You’ll need a comfortable place to stay that’s convenient for your work location and for getting to your other daily needs. 

4. Get a Local SIM Card

Stay connected! Buying a local SIM card will help you save, since you won’t have to pay hefty roaming charges.

5. Familiarize Yourself with Transportation

In Tokyo, being on time means arriving early. If your work starts at 9 AM, aim to be there by 8:45 AM. This shows respect and that you’re serious about your internship.

To get places on time, be sure to familiarize yourself with the transportation system before you even get there. Tokyo’s trains, in particular, are awesome – they can get you almost anywhere extremely fast. However, they can also be busy. Familiarize yourself with routes and timetables ahead of time. 

6. Brush Up on Your Language Skills

A few Japanese phrases will go an incredibly long way! Learn some basic greetings and common expressions to show respect and an eagerness to engage – and also, to make your day to day life just a little bit easier while you’re in Japan.

7. Research Japanese Cultural Norms and Etiquette

Get ready to say “konnichiwa” to a brand new culture. Tokyo will dazzle you with its sights and sounds, from the towering skyscrapers to the serene temples, but it’s the culture that’s sure to leave the longest-lasting impression.

Japanese culture is one that’s built on respect and kindness. Learning a few basic words in Japanese, like “hello” (konnichiwa), “thank you” (arigatou), and “excuse me” (sumimasen), goes a long way. It shows you care about their culture!

You’ll see people in Tokyo bowing when they say hello and thank you. It’s a big part of saying “nice to meet you” and “thanks!” You don’t have to be a bowing pro, but a little bow shows you understand and respect Japanese ways.

8. Pack Your Business Attire

In the summer, Tokyo is known for being hot and humid. Bring light clothes that breathe, but also clothes that will work well in the office. Though it does vary some among different companies, for the most part, business attire in Tokyo is neat and professional.

Don’t forget an umbrella, either – rain is common during Tokyo summers, and showers tend to encroach quickly out of nowhere.

9. Prepare Networking Tools

Bring your business cards – and pack way more than you think you might need. You’ll want to prepare an elevator pitch and master the business card hand-off that’s so integral to Japanese business culture.

10. Confirm Your Schedule

Get in touch with your employer before arriving in Japan to confirm your schedule and any other details of your work arrangement.

11. Research Popular Attractions


Internship In Japan

While you’ll be going to Tokyo to work, take the time to research some location attractions you might want to check out. In general, Tokyo is a safe city, but you’ll want to take precautions and do some research into safe neighborhoods ahead of time. 

12. Save Emergency Contacts

Similarly, get ahead of the game by plugging some emergency contacts into your phone. Provide your emergency contacts with phone numbers and addresses for your accommodations and workplace, as well as a copy of your passport. 

Also find out the number for local emergency services and your company’s emergency contact.

13. Take Health Precautions

Talk to your doctor about any vaccinations you might need before you go. If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, look up how to communicate those in Japanese – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

14. Exchange Your Currency

In Tokyo, cash is king. While some places take cards, lots of smaller shops and restaurants only take yen (Japan’s money). Before you hop on the plane, make sure you have some yen with you to start.

15. Set Some Goals

Don’t go into your internship blind. Before you board the plane, take the time to set some realistic goals for yourself.

What do you hope to achieve from your internship? What kind of connections do you want to make? How will your internship help you meet your long-term goals? Write a list of both short- and long-term goals, and revisit this list often during your time in Tokyo.

How to Get a Summer Internship in Japan

Are you ready to secure your dream internship in Japan? Absolute Internship is here to help you handle all the logistics so you can focus on what matters – making your mark in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

We pair students just like you up every day with exciting internships abroad. Japan is waiting for you – are you ready to see what it has to offer?



Can foreigners intern in Japan?

Yes, foreigners can intern in Japan, often under a cultural activities visa for short-term, unpaid internships.

Is an internship in Japan worth it?

Absolutely! It’s a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, gain international work experience, and expand your professional network.

Do interns get paid in Japan?

This depends on the internship. While some internships are unpaid, others may offer stipends or allowances.

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