Lazy Gaijin in Japan

Life in Japan is different for every foreigner. We all have different jobs, family situations, life situations, financial situations, etc. No two Gaijin are equal.

In this post I want to address the “lazy foreigners.” More specifically I want to briefly talk about the lazy foreigners who constantly complain about their place in life here in Japan. I want to discuss the lazy foreigners who complain about their employers, their salaries and their lot in life.

Now of course, there are those who find themselves in difficult predicaments here in Japan through no fault of their own. The whole NOVA collapse so many years ago (2007) was bad news for thousands of teachers in Japan and none of it was their fault. They worked for a company with ruthless and illegal business practices and they got screwed!

I’m not talking about folks who get caught in bad luck life situations.

I’m talking about those who complain about low salaries, but do nothing to work for higher ones.

I’m talking about those folks who hate their jobs, constantly complain about them to anyone who will listen, but won’t try to get a different one.

During my nine years in Japan I have met more than a few people like this. They tend to be very negative.

I have met folks who have positions such as eikaiwa (English language school) teachers or Assistant Language Teachers in public schools. Some of their jobs honestly don’t require a lot of work or effort. The jobs are quite easy which may be good for some personalities, but the pay is lousy.

I’ve met folks in these positions and when they ask me about my job and responsibilities they say, “Screw that! That’s way too much work.” I say to them, “…but I make a lot more money then you.” They reply, “I would rather have the lower salary than do that much work!” Then they continue to complain on social media about their lot in life here in Japan.

In the past 9 years here I have even arranged about a dozen interviews (I stopped doing this 2 years ago out of frustartion) for acquaintances at my school. The work is very hard, but the salary is higher than an English teacher (I’m at an international school) and we get a lot of paid holiday time. I arranged interviews for these folks (some positions don’t require a teaching degree, but just a standard 4 year degree) and once they heard about the work expectations, either declined the interview or once they had the interview bowed out or declined a job position.

These folks could have made a much bigger salary and had more holidays (paid), but because the day-to-day schedule is quite rigorous, said, “No!”

What irritates me is that later on, I would see the same people bitch and complain that the salary at their ALT dispatch company sucks and they don’t get paid for holidays!

They could have had a much better job, but chose not to! Then complain about it.

Many people here in Japan have big dreams and don’t do anything to make those dreams a reality.


My thoughts flip back to about 2010-11 when I wrote a book about teaching in Japan and Korea. I wrote and self-published a book on Amazon. I got a LOT of support from the expat crowd in Japan, but there were those who threw negativity at me!

My first book was by no means perfect. There were some typos and other flaws, but it was a great first-time experience. I learned a lot from the process. I also sold more than 1000 copies, which I think was pretty good!

The interesting part was that there was a small contingent of foreigners who loudly said, “I am a writer. I haven’t written a book, but I could write one better than yours!” (came across a lot of this type)

I had a successful blog at the time, a very popular YouTube channel and I DID write and publish a book. I talked the talk and I walked the walk.

My few detractors were these lazy and negative foreigners.

They talked a talk, but that was it.

There IS opportunity for you in Japan. You can be successful, but nothing comes easy. You have to work VERY hard to achieve your dreams.

I have met a lot of foreigners in Japan who make a lot of money and do well, but they work their butts of to do so. They transitioned from teacher to business owners. They started schools of their own and they opened restaurants. They learned Japanese well enough to become translators.

In my case, I was an English teacher in Korea with a 4-year B.A. I loved teaching so much that I decided to go back to university n Canada and get my teaching degree. Once I made that decision I worked 6 days a week for 3 years saving for that goal. I lived frugally and saved! I then went back to university as a 31 year-old student, got my Bachelor of Education and came to Japan.

I finally built my resume to a point where a big opportunity was presented to me earlier this year.

My family is leaving Japan to pursue this opportunity, but it was the hard work I did in Japan that has offered my family so much.

If you want to succeed in life you have to work for it. Opportunities are there for you. Roll up our sleeves, stop complaining and get to work!




The writer:

Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast and the Just Japan News Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.

Follow him on Twitter: @madformaple




One comment

  1. This is something I’ve been guilty of. But, a quick scan of the teacher’s office and seeing the other teachers doing 10 times the work I do usually fixes that. Now, I just stick to complaining about unfair business practices and dispatch companies that treat their employees like crap. That’s something to complain about! Great article and great reminder.


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