Nov 20, 2018

Vacation days in Japan

If you have worked in your home country before you came to Japan you might be surprised how little vacation days workers in Japan get. Unless you have a generous expat contract that grants you more vacation days. 

In general when working for a Japanese company full-time you will start with 10 vacation days per year and you get an additional day per year you keep working at the company until a maximum of 20. Usually, you first get vacation days after having worked for 6 months. That means that if you want to take a day off during your first 6 months it will be unpaid. Depending on the company you work for these regulations can be different though.

Most of my friends and relatives in Germany get something between 20 to 30 vacation days per year, so compared to that it is quite hard to make do with the little vacation days you get in Japan. However do not forget that Japan has a lot of national holidays and there also is the nice regulation that if a national holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday will be a holiday. This, of course, is only relevant if you work in a job where holidays are off, depending on the industry or company regulations you might have to work on holidays.

Vacation days in Japan photo

When you look at a Japanese calendar you will find a lot of national holidays 

In most companies, you will also get additional holidays to your vacation days. Most companies are closed for a few days over New Year’s and employees get these days off without having to use their vacation days. Also, there are summer holidays in many companies. Depending on the company there either is a fixed time when the whole company is closed or you get a certain number of extra holidays that you can take during summer timer. My husband gets a whole week off in August and I get 3 days for summer vacation that I can take anywhere from July to September.

Now Japan does not sound as bad, you might think. But do not forget that in most companies you do not get sick days. So that means you should always have a few vacation days to spare in case you catch a cold and want to stay home. Otherwise, you will either have to go to work even though you’re sick or take unpaid leave.

Also for us foreigners that might want to visit our relatives once in a while, vacation days need to be used very carefully. When I visit my family in Germany I usually go there for at least two weeks, because the flight is long and expensive. With only a few vacation days I usually would use the majority of my annual vacation for my trip to Germany and had only a little left for vacation while I am in Japan. Now I luckily work at a company that offers extra vacations days for foreign employees when they visit their home country so that I do not have to stress out about vacation days anymore. However, companies that offer such extra benefits for foreign employees are quite rare.

Have you had trouble managing your vacation days in Japan?



Hi, I’m Eli. I’m from Germany and moved to Japan a few years ago. I am a typical nerd and like collecting Pokémon merchandise.Follow me on twitter (@hannari_eri) for the latest nerd News from Tokyo. I also write a blog in German over here. https://lifeinjapanisstrange.wordpress.com/