Having worked many ski seasons in Canada it had always been in my plans that I wanted to do a Winter in Japan. I knew I already loved Japan from my previous trip here in 2009 and I really wanted to ski Japan's famous deep and dry powder.
The first thing we needed to do was get a Working Holiday Visa, which we needed to travel back to Australia to get from our local Japanese consulate. Getting the Visa itself was pretty easy, you just need to do some research into Japan and design an itinerary as well as write a letter of intention. The visa is free for Australians which is a bonus when you compare the costs of the same visa to say Canada which is currently CA $250 plus the cost of Police checks etc which you don't need for the Japanese Visa. To find out more about Working Holiday Visas visit the Japan Association for Working Holiday Makers to see if you are eligible. Not all countries are. If you are not eligible you would need to get a sponsored visa from an employer in Japan.
Once we got our visas we immediately started applying for jobs. Jobs started appearing online by around June so it's important to keep an eye on the links that I mention below as many companies only have applications open for a limited time. We applied for every job that we could and after some Skype interviews we took jobs with the same company, my partner as a Cook and me as a Lodge Assistant.
My job as a Lodge Assistant was perfect for me as the job varies everyday- we cook breakfast for the guests, clean the rooms and common areas, pick up and drop off guests as well as just be around if the guests have any questions. The good thing about this job is that I would get some time free almost everyday to go skiing which really helps when Night Skiing goes until 8.30pm everyday.
Niseko is also a great place to live as it's relatively compact so you can easily get around on the free shuttle or walk to the lifts. The food is amazing and I would eat out everyday if I could. And one of the great things about Japan is the Onsen, nothing beats soaking your weary muscles in a hot spring with snow falling on your head. The snow here is phenomenal too, even though this year hasn't been the best year for snow it still keeps snowing a lot of the time.
If you do come to Japan to work you do need to be prepared that your wage could be 1000 yen or less and that tax is 20.5% so you do need to have quite a bit of savings to survive at least to begin with. Also most companies only pay monthly so if you start work in Dec you might not get paid till mid January. Depending on where you work your rent could also be over 50,000 yen per month so after all those deductions you don't end up with much to spend on luxuries.
After doing six ski seasons in Canada, New Zealand and Japan, I still think Niseko is one of the best and it definitely had the best snow. If you love Winter and want to ski or ride all the time then Japan is an amazing place to come.
These are some of the websites I used to find a job