Finding a job in Fukuoka

Updated 2022-12-21 15:42

Fukuoka is the capital of its eponymous prefecture, located on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan, and is the largest city in the region. Its location near the Asian mainland makes it a major port city. It is a dynamic city that is becoming increasingly popular among foreigners. How to find a job in Fukuoka? What are the most promising economic sectors?

Fukuoka, two names, one history

Modern Fukuoka is in fact, the fusion of two historical cities, Hakata and Fukuoka, between which flows the Nakagawa River. The discussions about the name of the new city took a long time, and even today, there is still a lot of confusion. 

The destiny of Hataka and Fukuoka during the Meiji era (1868-1912)

Everything started with the Meiji revolution (or restoration) in 1868. The Tokugawa shogunate (military government) was overthrown, and the emperor regained full power. This was the first step towards the foundation of modern Japan, which became more inclined towards the West.

Japan's modernization and change of name

The Meiji era was one of great political, economic, and social transformations in Japan. Changes significantly affected the country's administration, with a new territory partitioning system that produced prefectures, cities, and villages, established by law in 1888. This is how the government decided to merge Fukuoka and Hakata, but at that time, not everyone was happy about it. As a matter of fact, this merger was seen as forcing at least one loser, and for long, Hakata refused to be the one that would drop its name. The debate fascinated the Japanese at that time, and in 1889, a decision was made! The newly merged cities were to be called Fukuoka from then on, and ever since, Hakata, at least as a city name, does not exist anymore. The confusion lasted through ages, though, and even today, the name "Hakata" still resounds, namely with its train station, its local gastronomy, the dialect, and more. 

Mapping Fukuoka

Before embarking on the difficult (but not impossible) job search in Fukuoka, some background information is in order. Fukuoka Prefecture is located on the island of Kyushu, real spelling of which is Kyûshû. It is located south of Japan and has a population of 5.1 million (2020 figures). Fukuoka City, its capital, boasts 1.6 million souls and sits in the west of the prefecture as the economic heart of the region.

Major cities of Fukuoka

Nine other big cities contribute to the dynamism of the prefecture. There's Kitakyûshû, in the extreme north ("kita" meaning "north"), which is the second most populated city, with almost 940,000 inhabitants. Then, there is Kurume in the south with slightly more than 300,000 inhabitants, followed by Iizuka in the northern half with 126,364 souls, and Omuta in the extreme south with a population of 111,281. Other cities like Kasuga, Chikushino and Onojô in the center have a population ranging between 111,000 and 103,000 inhabitants, while Itoshima, located in the west not far from Fukuoka, counts 98,877 inhabitants and north-western Munakata with a population of 97,095. 

 (Source: Statistics Bureau of Japan)

Foreigners in Fukuoka

You will come across very few foreigners in Fukuoka. The prefecture counted 81,072 foreigners in 2020 (out of 5.1 million), most of whom live in the capital city. However, the number of new immigrants is steadily increasing. Fukuoka has been gaining popularity in recent years, its geographical position being at a strategic crossroads for international trade.

Reasons why you should work in Fukuoka?

It is always better to relocate with an unbiased understanding of the local context of your host country. Finding a job in Japan is difficult. Moreover, COVID and the resulting economic crisis have not made things any easier. Nevertheless, the Fukuoka prefecture has kept on investing in attracting foreign engineers, start-ups, investors, financiers and creative people (especially in the video game industry), and thanks mainly to its airport, the prefecture is still very dynamic and open to international markets. 

Immigrant communities in Fukuoka city

Being new in Fukuoka, you will surely be looking to expand your network. Check with immigrant and expatriate associations when settling in Fukuoka or looking for a job. With their offices based in the capital, the Japan America Society of Fukuoka, the Fukuoka Japan Australia Society, or the Fukuoka Japan British Society can help you in many ways.

Networking in Fukuoka

Obviously, you should avoid sticking only to the expat community. Assuming that you intend to stay in Japan for a long time, the best thing would be to mix the best of both worlds. You would not wish to live exclusively in a foreigners-only club. 
Ideally, you should have a good command of the language before you arrive, or learn it on the spot. Thus, you will have greater chances of finding the right job and will integrate more easily. At the same time, while going abroad may seem daunting, especially when it is your first move, a community of foreigners can be reassuring and put you on the right track.

Getting integrated into Fukuoka 

Founded in 2014, the Fukuoka City International Foundation promotes togetherness. It also aims at facilitating the integration of foreigners with activities like discovering the city and the prefecture, meeting with cultural associations, helping with administrative matters, etc. You can also adopt this approach for your job search in Fukuoka. Professional networks are far from being the only ones that will open the doors to the job market. Informal networks are just as strong. Sports, reading, music, gardening and drawing clubs, amongst others, will allow you to socialize with Japanese people, to make friends, and to build your own little "home" in Fukuoka. 

Of course, you will not join a club only to show your CV to every person you meet. Your peers might feel like they're being used, and rightfully so. Make sure to distinguish between formal, active networks, such as professional networks, where everyone is there for a specific purpose, and informal, passive networks, where sharing and conviviality are the keys to making friends.

Kyushu's economy

The strategical importance of Kyushu

Kyushu Island is Japan's 4th economy, behind Kanto (propelled by Tokyo), Kansai (Osaka) and Chûbu (Nagoya). It accounts for about 10% of the country's total wealth. It is a dynamic region, which benefits from the Kyushu Shinkansen, a high-speed train operated by three train companies, namely: 

  • Tsubame, which connects Hakata station, north of Kyushu to Kagoshima, in the extreme south, 
  • Sakura that goes to Shin-Osaka station and, 
  • Mizuho that runs from Shin-Osaka to Kagoshima. 

Thanks to the Shinkansen and its Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Kyushu Saga, Kumamoto airports, Kyushu is directly connected to the rest of Japan and to Southeast Asia, which favors economic exchanges with South Korea, China, and the countries of Southwest Asia.

Kyushu's main economic sectors

Kyushu's economy is based on three main sectors: agriculture, industry (shipbuilding, coal, steel, chemicals, and so on) and services (health, tourism, retail). Agriculture alone is worth 1.8 trillion yen, the equivalent of 20% of Japan's total production. The region also invests in health and research. Aware of the climate emergency, Kyushu is also investing in sustainable development to limit its consumption of fossil fuels. Kyushu relies on renewable energies, with solar energy and hydrogen in the lead. Fukuoka and Kitakyushu are known as "national strategic special zones".

The economy of Fukuoka Prefecture

Thanks to the port of Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture plays a major role in import-export in Japan. In 2021, it was the country's 7th largest exporter and importer, with over 5 trillion yen in exports and nearly 3 trillion yen in imports. Fukuoka mainly exported electronic circuits, cars and chemical compounds. It mostly imported electronic processors, non-agglomerated coal (bituminous coal), wiring for ships, aircraft, cars, and liquefied natural gas. 

Fukuoka Prefecture's strong position in the Southwest Asian economic market is demonstrated by its exports to China (154 billion yen), South Korea, the United States, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (20.3 billion yen). It mainly imports from China (71 billion yen), Taiwan, Australia, the United States, and South Korea (15.9 billion yen).

The economy of Fukuoka City

The city of Fukuoka aims at attracting more and more IT, engineering and human resources companies. Its objective is to develop its "Engineer Friendly City Fukuoka" ecosystem.

Fukuoka is also ahead of its time. It has been supporting startups since 2012 and is establishing itself as an innovation powerhouse. In 2020, it was the only city to be selected by the Japanese government to be a "global core city" and is accelerating support for startup creation and development.

Fukuoka city: A new Eldorado for startups?

The year 2017 saw the launch of Fukuoka Growth Next (FGN), whose motto is in line with the city's pro-startup policy: "From Fukuoka to the World To the next future". The FGN program is betting on the future by establishing public-private partnerships to encourage the creation of start-ups with premises, infrastructure, and more. It also promotes meetings among professionals thanks to the creation of the STARTUP CAFE, a place for exchange and counseling with international exposure. Business creation, job creation, visas, Fukuoka's economy, the global market are among the topics discussed by experts there.  

Recruitment of highly skilled foreigners

One of the most difficult visas to obtain is the "highly skilled professional" visa. It is also the one that offers the most benefits. Fukuoka City is committed to attracting foreign talent and making it easier for them to obtain residency. As such, it awards extra points to all talent who work at a company it subsidizes.

Jobs in video games

Fukuoka is also a great city for creation and animation through the Fukuoka Game Promotion Industry Agency and CreativeLab Fukuoka. It is particularly active in video game production. Fukuoka is home to two world-class Japanese companies: CyberConnect2 and LEVEL-5. The latter has established its worldwide reputation thanks to the adaptation of licenses such as Inazuma Eleven, Yokai Watch, Professor Layton or Dragon Quest.

CyberConnect2 is recruiting

CyberConnect2 is known worldwide for its adaptations of successful licenses like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dragon Ball, Naruto, Demon Slayer, amongst many. The studio recently returned to its roots by creating the game Fuga, Melodies of Steel and as such, is currently in the midst of a recruitment campaign. Its founder, Hiroshi Matsuyama, was in Paris in July 2022 to pitch his campaign on the occasion of the Japan Expo, the first festival in France dedicated to Japanese pop culture and arts. 

CyberConnect2 is recruiting game designers, level designers, model artists and character animators (the complete list is in the useful links at the end of the article). It is possible to apply even if you don't speak Japanese. Language training is planned on the spot. Many foreigners work in their Fukuoka or Tokyo offices, and for those who are not yet in Japan, interviews are possible via Skype. Committed to the fight against discrimination, CyberConnect2 offers to expatriate recruits a training program that goes beyond the Japanese language courses. It helps them with their administrative formalities and to settle in, etc.

Engineering, creation, development, consulting, IT...

Fukuoka wants to become the reference for engineers. Several startups and companies, such as Vibrant, a consulting and software creation company, KOALA Tech Japan, an innovative startup, and Chaintope, a company that specializes in blockchain for cryptocurrencies, have chosen to set up there, just like retail giant Rakuten.

Large companies in Fukuoka prefecture

Other large companies have set up shops in Fukuoka Prefecture. The likes of Nissan, Line, Japan's number one instant messaging app and Dell Technologies have chosen Hakata Prefecture as their base. Nissan has another plant in the city of Kanda and the same goes for Toyota. It has settled somewhere else around Kiyakyushu, and Apple has established itself in Chûô district.

How to find a job in Fukuoka?

Job search and personal situation

If you are a student or a Japanese Working Holiday Visa holder and are looking for a small job, you won't need an extensive CV, but it will still be very important. As such, you will be able to get jobs in restaurants, hotels, entertainment (amusement parks, etc.), sharehouses, sales (work in minimarkets), for example.

The work visa

This type of visa is sponsored by employers and corresponds to a long-term position. Unlike a standard job, which is rather easy to find (even if offers have become scarcer with the Covid), the "fixed-term" job is more difficult. If you're an engineer, researcher, startup, video game or healthcare professional, you'll have a better chance of finding a job. You will have even more chances if you speak Japanese. Don't skip out on learning the language.

Where to look for job offers in Fukuoka

General job websites in Japanese and English, specialized websites according to sectors, Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Japanese and international professional networks, word of mouth, informal circles of acquaintance, universities and language schools, newspapers specialized in job search (available in train and subway stations), are all very good ways of looking for jobs in Fukuoka. Here again, speaking Japanese will give you access to more job offers.

Tips for working in Fukuoka 

The city of Fukuoka is a dynamic and continuously evolving city. Be curious, open-minded, and prepared to challenge yourself. You won't be 100% functional during the first months of your stay. Don't panic; take the time to rediscover yourself in this particular context, and always keep in mind that living in a new country is an ongoing learning process.

Take the time to gather all the necessary information about Japan and your relocation to Fukuoka. What are the labor laws? Do you need specific diplomas to work in Japan? Is there a union? 

If you obtained the job in your own country, congratulations! Try, however, to be in Japan a few weeks before you start working for the company, especially if it is your first move abroad.

In case of personal issues like culture shock or homesickness, for example, do not hesitate to seek help. Talk with other people who have also been looking for a job in Fukuoka and/or go out and talk with friends. Engage in different activities, release the pressure and if the problem persists, see a doctor.

If you are already in Fukuoka, go and explore the city and its surroundings. Get acquainted with your new neighborhood, learn about the city's history. Take interest in its cultural associations. Practice your hobbies and discover new activities. This will help you to integrate better.

Useful links:

Engineer Friendly City Fukuoka

Fukuoka Growth Next


Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Discover life in Fukuoka

Béné no Fukuoka

Fukuoka Now

Immigrant communities in Fukuoka city

The Japan America Society of Fukuoka

Fukuoka City International Foundation

Fukuoka Japan Australia Society

Fukuoka Japan British Society

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.