Working in Japan: Getting Started as a Freelance Translator on Gengo

Although I still get some work with oDesk, it hasn’t been nearly enough to make ends meet.  On top of that, I’m finding that for quite a few companies that advertise, outsourcing to freelancers = way to get away with paying less than minimum wage for work.

Seriously, I just did a timely estimate of website translation job (privacy policy, user agreements, the whole shebang) for a company that originally approved my character rate, only to be met with the response that they were looking for something more in the range of $0.01 – $0.015 a character.  What a time waster!  (For reference, a $0.02 – $0.03 character rate is pretty much minimum wage for Japanese > English translation work.)

So in light of that, I started branching out more.  In March I registered with Gengo, one of the bigger translation sites, and it’s currently one of the places I’ve been receiving steady work from.

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Culture Day and School Culture Festivals

November 3rd is Culture Day (Bunka no Hi) in Japan, and around this time most schools will put on some kind of cultural festival or event for a day or weekend to showcase students’ artistic abilities and/or raise money for the school and it’s various clubs and programs.

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Making the Big Move: Let’s Talk Visas

There are many ways to move to Japan, but pretty much all of them require getting your hands on a visa.  With the exception of a few special countries, you’ll need a visa if you plan on staying longer than 90 days or 3 months in Japan.

Requirements for applying and being granted a visa depend on what kind of agreement Japan has with the country your passport is issued from.  Requirements also depend on what kind of visa you’re seeking.  The following sites are very useful reading:

During my stay I’ve had three different kinds of visas and all of them required jumping through different hoops to get my hands on. Continue reading