Working a ski season is a life-changing experience, whether you’re fresh out of university or looking for a break from the traditional nine-to-five. Next winter prospective seasonaires have the opportunity to make it even more special with the chance to work in one of the world’s most sought-after ski destinations: Japan.
BUNAC, experts in gap year and working abroad placements, has launched a new programme offering the chance to spend the winter in this world-famous powder paradise.
The company is currently holding interviews for the upcoming 2019/20 winter to fill the newly increased quota of Japan working holiday visas. In April, 1,000 visas were made available and acceptance of applications closes once the maximum number of visas have been granted.
“Last year’s quota of Japan working holiday visas for UK passport holders ran out for the first time ever, which proves that the demand for Japanese gap years is definitely on the rise,” said Emma Beynon, marketing manager at BUNAC.
British and Irish applicants, aged 20 to 30 years old, have the opportunity to bag a job in Japan’s top resort Niseko, on the northern island of Hokkaido, and also in three smaller ski resorts just a short bullet train ride from Tokyo – Nozawa Onsen, Yuzawa and Minakami.
Unlike traditional seasonaire jobs in the Alps where placements for British staff often start in November/December and end in April/May, the Japan working visa covers 12 months, starting in November – meaning the successful candidates could be in the country when 12 different cities help host the 2019 Rugby World Cup in September to November and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games kick off in July and August.
With uncertainties around Brexit causing British companies to tighten up their operations and change the way they staff hotels and chalets in Europe the chance to venture further afield will be appealing to some seasonaires.
“The year ahead represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for ski gappers in Japan: arrive in time for the Rugby World Cup which kicks off in September; work an unforgettable ski season; then stay on to see the cherry blossom next spring and catch the Olympics during summer 2020,” said Beynon.
Skiing in Japan is on the bucket list of most diehard snow-sport fans. Winter Olympian Jenny Jones states it as her favourite place on the planet to go snowboarding, so much so she now hosts training camps there. First-time visitors are often surprised by the culture that welcomes them in the land of the rising sun, a quirky alternative to traditional ski holidays in the Alps.
Jobs on offer on the BUNAC programme include hospitality and customer service roles, such as ski concierge, chef and spa attendant, as well as ski and snowboard instructors. The level of pay seasonaires can expect differs depending on the job and skill level, but BUNAC suggests applicants can expect to earn roughly £9 per hour. Additional perks can also include lift passes, lessons, training courses and end-of-season bonuses.
Prospective applicants shouldn’t be worried about being able to speak Japanese as it isn’t required – most jobs will be English-speaking and language lessons are available.
And it’s not just keen powder hounds who can apply: “You don’t need experience of skiing in Japan, or even of skiing at all, for non-instructor positions. In fact many jobs include free ski lessons and ski passes, so it’s a great opportunity to learn,” said Beynon.
The opportunity to work in one of the most desirable ski destinations on the planet has seen a lot of interest. “Our main tip for the application process is to apply early, due to the competitiveness of the programme,” said Beynon.
“We can schedule mock interviews with candidates who don’t have a lot of interview experience, so they can practise their skills and become comfortable in an interview situation before the real thing,” advises Beynon.
“The selection process consists of two Skype interviews with the employer. The first interview is more focused on the soft skills of the applicant, and the second interview will go more in-depth into the specific job role applied for. The overall recruitment timeline is around two to three weeks.”
While it is possible to arrange your own ski season or gap year, BUNAC’s Work Japan Ultimate Ski programme costs from £899 and includes a pre-arranged job, accommodation, visa application support, airport meet and greet, transfers, one week’s arrival accommodation, assistance with tax, insurance and banking and an in-country mentor for the length of the placement. In some cases a season-long lift pass is also included.