Modeling in Japan FAQ: Tourist Visas

I get email from girls everywhere asking questions about modeling in Tokyo. Here’s one I get almost every week- the modeling in Japan visa question. It’s a good question and it’s important you come over to work the right way.

I will arrive in Japan with a tourist visa because most agencies want to meet me at first, before I can sign a contract. Or get a working visa.

Is it usual that agencies are doing it? And is it possible to change a tourist visa into a working visa, while I am in Japan?


Japan is strict… they don’t let illegal workers slide by. There is no “working under the table” in the modeling world (at least not in the professional, commercial modeling world). So unfortunately, you can’t legally work on a tourist visa, and most agencies won’t sign you unless you have a proper foreign residence card. As a tourist, you’re not legally allowed to make money in Japan doing any kind of work. And because a tourist visa is only good for 90 days, you’d be hard pressed to get settled, get registered with the agencies, and scramble to auditions (provided you’re invited!) and book real work. I booked a job about three weeks after coming to Japan, but I think that was a case of beginner’s luck.


My advice: If you’re a native English speaker (or fluent in English) come over on a teaching visa: the work is plentiful and the hours are usually audition-friendly. Check here for job listings. Find a teaching job that requires only 20-30 hours of teaching a week and will sponsor your visa, so you have time to pursue your modeling and acting career. You can model on a teaching visa, and if you get a contract and model or act full-time, you can switch to and artist visa, but it’s tricker to get. Teach part-time, and even when you’re not booking or auditioning, you should be networking, getting photos, and learning as much about the industry here as you possibly can.

For a complete guide to visas in Japan, check out the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website:Β

One of my readers is coming over next month on a teaching visa to pursue modeling. I can’t wait to hear about her progress and share her story with you. Ganbatte!


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