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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, tis my first post here, please be nice.

A brief self-intro; I'm an Australian who has previously lived in Japan for about 1 year, about 13 years ago. My Japanese is at N2 level, and my wife is Japanese. I run my own business here in Sydney in the print and graphics industry. I am 32 years old.

Wifey and I have recently been discussing a permanent move to Japan. For the last few weeks I have been doing quite a bit of research, and stumbled upon this forum, and thought I might start a thread to see what some more experienced people think, and I have to say in advance, I really appreciate what I've seen so far here, and what anyone can offer.

I have given consideration to a few major aspects which such a move would entail. The culture, the lifestyle etc etc. I am quite happy with the information I have gathered on these generic topics so far, and feel I have enough to go on to help me reach a final decision.

The aspect I am struggling with, is career. I've worked hard for the last few years to build what I have - albeit, a very small business, however it is what I really enjoy doing, and as such, I feel very fortunate and blessed. The thought of giving it all up is daunting, to say the least. I am also convinced that it's not something I'd be able to roll over to Japan right away, so I do accept that I won't be running my own business there anytime soon (although it may be something I'd look into after a few years).

The biggest question bothering me, is whether or not I'm capable of finding work in a similar field. I realise I wouldn't be manager or anything to start off with, or maybe even ever, but I really don't want to go there, and end up doing something I don't want to or is completely unrelated to what I do.

How do I even go about finding out if a Japanese company would consider me? I've thought about just 'cold e-mailing' companies, but am quite uncomfortable with the idea. Another thought I had, was to register with some 'haken gaisha' and see if they could help out. What do you think? What is the best way to find out if you're able to find work in your field in Japan?

I've tried some Japanese job sites, but they are mostly all for English teaching work, and there is Daijob, and most if not all the graphics industry jobs are in the digital/CG/animation sector, which I have no knowledge of whatsoever. I know that there must be a bunch of companies in Japan who do what I do here, but I have no idea on how to approach them or if they'd just laugh in my face if I were to ask to work there.

Thanking you all in advance for any info and tips,
John
 

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If you're work is awesome then I don't see why you couldn't find a job even with your language skills, but if you're just a drop in the bucket of graphic designers then I can't imagine anybody hiring you for just those skills unless they really like gaijins.
I used to work in film and TV and and would see huge rooms with dozens of graphic artists churning and burning out work. There wasn't a lack of people with the skills needed.

My gut feeling is saying try to find some company that could use your Australian aesthetics to market their stuff over there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply.

Although I am fluent in the use of the main adobe apps, I am not a graphic designer. Many of my clients are designers however. I'm more on the production/manufacturing side of things.

Wide format print and cut, laser etching and cutting, sign installation for shopfronts and windows, vehicle fleet graphics, exhibition graphics and promotional type stuff etc.

I'd be looking at employment in a workshop, operating the production equipment, setting up the output files, planning job processes etc.

In this type of work much of it is very b2b, and in any country it's not as easily googled, which is where I'm getting stuck I think.
 

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I've actually seen some shows on that subject believe it or not and a lot of that work is still done by hand here because of the chinese characters, I guess they want to have some flavor or spirit in their strokes that they feel is lacking from computers. The company they were filming were a family business though and it seemed like a tight-nit circle of people who do it. These were all one off signs though and not what you are talking about as far as fleets of vehicles.

A quick search of "Store signs" in Japanese at yahoo gave me endless pages of companies that do that kind of work though and as you know, Japan loves signs.

If it's a speciliazed skill I'd have your wife take a look at the list of places that do that and cold call them to ask if there's any work for you. Even if they only give her a few minutes of their time she might learn something.
 

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I gather that most of the signs for exhibits and even many billboard-sized signs are done on computer and printed on enormous injet printers. There used to be a couple of showrooms for those sign-sized printers in Shinjuku but both of them have closed already.

On the plus side, if your wife is a Japanese citizen, you can get a spousal visa which has no restrictions on the kind of work you can do. So, unlike most who want to work in Japan, you don't have to worry about having a job first -- you could work freelance, cold-calling businesses for work they might need done... though I wouldn't even know where to start. I also agree that signs are a big business here. But whether or not the market is saturated with existing sign companies, I couldn't say.

Does your current business have a website? I know a few people in similar businesses and if I knew more about the field I could ask around and see if any company names pop out as good leads. But I suspect a lot of that work is done by small companies who probably don't need to do much public advertising.

Good luck...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks again guys,

You're right about them not advertising - there is usually little need once you get the pendulum swinging, there is also the whole confidentiality thing with certain jobs/clients.

Rube, the handmade stuff, is real fun if you get into it... sadly, alot of that died out here, but still does really well in Japan I think. The States also still has quite a few traditional sign makers around. I was in Japan at last nenmatsu and loved how so many shops use handmade, handcarved signs. My father was originally a hand engraver/die casting craftsman, and although I remember him teaching me some basics when I was as little as 10, things soon changed with all the computerised equipment and I ended up learning to use all that all of a sudden, and I stopped learning the hand made stuff.

I just spent an hour or two googling and found some interesting companies in Aichi (we would prefer to go there if at all possible). Again, it just comes down to "how do I approach them?" I guess.

I'm also looking at getting an N1 qualification eventually, looking at around end of 2013, as it seems a good way to prove your proficiency in Japan? (correct me if I'm wrong). I also had the impression that it opened a few more doors, again, no proof of that, just assuming... I guess it can't hurt. Am open to opinions/feedback on this too if you have anything to say :)

I have a website but prefer not to put it up here - if you like you can PM me? I tried looking for a way to PM you but couldn't find the button... maybe I'm still too new to the forum.

For the last 2 years, we've been able to go back to Japan for nenmatsu, am hoping I can go again at the end of this year, and if we do, I hope I can approach at least one of the companies I found online to at least just have a chat with a boss/owner of one of these places. Luckily my spoken Japanese is quite good, and am pretty comfortable talking to someone, so it's just a matter of figuring out an 'angle'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Oh... in addition, wifey just suggested something the other day which had never crossed my mind... and that is 'sales'. She said with all the 'specialist' knowledge I have about the materials and processes in my industry, that there may be something in it for me. The advantage I have, is that both the equipment and software I use, is also used in Japan, and the materials used, are universal around the world, and after working with them for so long, I have gathered some disturbingly vast amounts of knowledge about them lol.

Ever seen any corporate sales gaijin guys around? Do they let us speak to Japanese corporate accounts?
 

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"how do I approach them?" I guess.
Have your wife do it for you. She can call and ask if there is work for her husband who has whatever rank you mentioned in Japanese and that you thought it would be easier for her to call. Have her make the initial contact.

I could go on about the reasons but it's all boring crap but based on 20 years of living here. It's a totally acceptable way to go about things here. Plenty of people still have arranged marriages here. There's a lot of practicality behind choices and people are not looked down on for being practical. Whoops, almost got started. I'll leave it at that. :p
 
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