​How can I Practice Architecture (as a Filipino Architect) in Japan?​


Hello, I am about to finish my studies in BS.arch this year, and I just wanted to know, how do I get to work in Japan?

Do I have to take the Licensure Examination first, then head out to Japan? (after becoming an RLA)

or do I have to take a masteral degree first in order to make it there?

(cause, some say that BS.arch is only equivalent to a draftsman in Japan)

Apr 15, 19 7:13 pm

I have a Filipino friend who received a scholarship to study at a technical/vocational school in Osaka. The program was about two-three years long (basically, he took up architecture there again to learn and adapt to Japan's principles and standards). He was also learning the language at the same time (he took the language exam and has a Level 2 level of proficiency in Japanese, second highest). He eventually found work but the toxicity of Japan's long hours, working culture and environment burned him out and he eventually came back to PH (where he took his licensure exam thereafter)

In summary: your BS Arch degree might not be academically and professionally reciprocal to the standards and career you're expecting to have in Japan. You will have to study again, both the program and the language, to gain the qualifications to at least get your resume noticed as most architecture firms there are strictly Japanese. There have been a few who've been lucky to get jobs there without having to go through with that but only because they've acquired substantial years of experience in PH or elsewhere. 

As a fresh graduate, my advise for you is to work or gain your experience in the PH first (find a company that has ties with Japan), take the boards for your license, then if when you still want it proceed to venture to Japan eventually.

Apr 16, 19 2:50 pm  · 

i cant say if it makes much difference if you are from the Philippines, but it may indeed be something that causes problems, simply because of the need for a visa.

Japan is opening up a bit. It is not hard to give a visa to people for instance. We have done it for our staff before and did not find it too costly altogether.

The main thing is that Japan is very insular. Work hours in normal offices are indeed extremely toxic, and finding a position from overseas is not likely without an introduction. This is not a country that really knows what to do with people applying for jobs from outside.

What you can expect to get most easily is an offer to work for free for 3 months and then a wave goodbye.

The best way to enter the system as an outsider is to go to a Japanese university and then use the network of the school or professors to get a job, and hopefully you are wanted enough that the office will sponsor your visa.

Not speaking and especially not writing and reading Japanese is problematic as well. If you dont want to invest the time to get to that level the best course is to find an office that is working overseas with projects in English, or especially with projects in the Philippines, in which case you are a real asset.

Apr 16, 19 7:50 pm  · 
Non Sequitur

working for free is not a job.  

Apr 16, 19 7:52 pm  · 

no it is an internship in the japanese context.

its bullshit without any doubt.

We pay interns, following the European model, and most of our interns are from that part of the world. But that is not a job either. Its an internship, with a start and end date and no intention on either side for continuation, and often for credit, or as a required part of education. Most interns go back to school after leaving our office.

Japanese offices do a similar thing but without pay, and they can say no to hundreds and still have dozens of the best of the lot working for free. We get easily 20-30 applications a month and our office is not that famous. I cant imagine what superstar places are like. From what I see, it is what they are set up for when it comes to foreign applicants. The easiest way to break through that barrier is to start as a student here. Things change slightly, although it is still not an easy place to be non-Japanese for anything but the short term.

To be fair to the famous Japanese offices, if you cant speak Japanese you arent going to be doing anything serious in any case. You will be flatly incompetent in everything. How can you check the building code or go to the site when you dont know what the hell anyone is saying? There is no English in the construction industry in Japan. So Model making is more likely. Someone has to make those thousands of paper chairs for Fujimoto's exhibit at MOMA after all. But that is not a job you will get a work visa for.

If you have exceptional skills you can try more professional offices, like Nikken Sekkei. They need people with high end BIM management chops, or they did. Not sure about now.

Apr 18, 19 9:03 pm  · 
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