Internship in Japan as a foreigner


Hello everyone, I am an undergraduate student from India having an internship offer from one of the starchitects in Japan. However, having read the reviews, (mostly negative) I'm a bit sceptical. I would be grateful if somebody could give me any advice on this!

Oct 7, 18 6:09 pm

i worked for one of the above.  my 2c:

-set clear expectations and boundaries on the hours you're going to work.  you aren't being paid, its not unreasonable to say "i have to leave at 12PM to catch last train".  

-its your internship.  feel free to ask to be involved in a specific project that interests you.  

-you won't get to know the 'starchitect' unless you get time with them out of the office.  this is very, very, very rare.

-tokyo has a lot of share houses with reasonable rent, where you can get your own room and share shower/kitchen areas.  this is common in japan for young working professionals, it isn't like an american flop house.  i lived in a share house and it was great

-you're indian--are you vegetarian or vegan?  virtually every japanese dish has dashi, which is made from fish.  consider relaxing your dietary restrictions while abroad.

-japanese people can be racist towards indians, as you have a reputation (fair or not) of being loud and smelly with no manners.  

-long hours are real.  the conditions can suck.  for me, it was worth it, because i got to work on the design phase of interesting projects, and i got to help do CA on some others.  if you treat it like a studio, where you're paying money to learn a specific technique or method of practice, it'll be much more rewarding, imho

Oct 7, 18 6:36 pm

Thank you so, so much. This sure was helpful. Since the duration of my internship is short (3 months), I thought that this might be a great opportunity since:                                                                  1.  I really look upto Japanese architects and their philosophy        2. Will look great on my CV                                                              3. I was considering  Tokyo University/ Seoul University for my postgrad, so working with this firm might prove very helpful            I don't mind doing an unpaid internship, as long as it's worth the experience. 


I think it also depends on the office you are at. Interns in Japanese offices mostly do models. If they stay for more than 3 months there may be a chance to design depending on the firm. A reason why internships are unpaid in Japan is because the local students usually join as "open-desks," where they join for 2 weeks or a month to just experience how working in an office is like. For overseas students though, we expect to work for more than 3 months, but this same open-desk system applies to us.                                                                                                                  Another factor that you should consider how many firms are very traditional in their tool use-most of them use Vectorworks, and the design process is highly based on model making. Personally, I didn't find their ways of making models very efficient and they  focus too much on little things like furniture. I was also more interested in learning how to use common software in the industry, like Revit, so the high focus on model making was not what I am interested in. So before you go, do ask the firm about what exactly do they expect interns to work on and how much do you get to contribute to the design process. It is very long hours and they expect models to be perfect, so I don't think it's right that they aren't even paying you to produce something they expect a lot out of. Therefore it is definitely important to know what you can get out of it!


Thank you for an insight into the work culture. I will definitely take this into consideration.

Non Sequitur

People who take unpaid gigs are worth exactly that: zero.


get reborn as a japanese and re-apply

Oct 8, 18 10:12 pm
Non Sequitur
Don’t take unpaid gigs, ever, regardless of the statchitects.
Oct 8, 18 10:31 pm

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