Working & traveling in Japan


April, 1st. Cécile and I are taking off, to Japan. And no April's fool joke would have prevented us from going. I would have buried the jokers 6 feet down. Why? Because for more than 6 years, I had been dreaming about Japan. Reading every books there are, from geopolitics to social, through arts, culture and architecture books. And of course, all the mangas too ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ

All these expectations I built up converged into a rather strange and disturbing question though: what if Japan is far from being the country I've dreamed about for so long?

Let me reassure you right away: Japan did not let me down in the least. It shipped and delivered, fast and strong, every single day.

Long story short: it was INCREDIBLE.

Our trip was two-parts. First, 1 month in Tokyo, both of us teaching part-time at Le Wagon new bootcamp here, for their very first batch.
Second, 1 month traveling through the country, from Tokyo to the south, until reaching Okinawa.

What is this article's angle?

For the ones expecting a tale of our journey, I'll refer you to our journal, written by Cécile 💪. It's only in French but if you want to read it, simply shoot us a tweet. And if enough people want it, an English version could come to life. Show us your love people!

My focus here will be more on one particular aspect of our trip: the remote working side. Because we both had freelance commitments with French companies during our stay in Japan, we had to dedicate part of our time to work on these projects.

Hail your new god: the Almighty Pocket Wifi 🙇

One decision we did not regret one bit was to rent a Pocket Wifi. This little box cost us 3€ per day, for a total of 161€ over 44 days.

It was f… worth it. Prior to our trip to Japan, I would never have guessed how much I would come to enjoy the indirect benefits this little box would provide us with.

Pocket Wifi

In the Shinkansen, riding the bus to the beach in Okinawa, still in need to punch in some code, to reply to some emails, or just to check on random internet stuff? You can. Reliably. No sweat. No depending on some shitty mobile data provider, using buggy tethering procedures. It just works. And the digital freedom it allows you to enjoy my dear friends… Just amazing!

Picture this: anywhere we went we were able to settle down in a café of our choice, and get some work done. Without any second thoughts. Just choose the place you really want to spend time working from. No need to worry about wifi connection, or anything of the sort.

Speaking of cafés and places to work from…

Awesome cosy cafés and coworking spaces

To our westerners’ eyes, Japan can often be one of the most hipster country you can think of. The art of Zen, the craft mastery videos you can find on the Internet (Jiro dreams of Sushi, among many others), all in all, Japan can be looked on as a country of avant-garde in numbers of domains.

Sometimes it deserves its reputation, sometimes it does not. Fortunately for us and our digital nomad lifestyle, working around town in cafés and coworking spaces, when it comes to these places, Japan delivers.

Some stats first: during our month of traveling around, we went to work in 4 cafés and 3 coworking spaces.

One of this coworking space was in Himeji, the city of the Hakuro-jô castle, the White Heron. We were in the city only for the day, to visit the castle, on our way from Osaka to Hiroshima. We finished our visit early, had a couple of hours to kill before taking our next train, so we turned to our dear friend Google. Surprise 🎉 A coworking space in Himeji, mocco, who would have thought?! And a good one at that!

Here are one other coworking and one coffee place we went too, just to give you a quick preview of some of the cool places we went too:

Oinai Karasuma coworking in Kyoto Shared meal in Oinai Karasuma, Kyoto

Fresh drinks in Café Soeur, Takayama Café Soeur in Takayama

By the way, Cécile is currently working on a complete listing article, coming soon! ✍️

Fitting this in our shared and packed schedule

Obviously, our stay in Japan was not all about work. But still, we had some 😩

Cécile had some work for a French startup, helping as reenforcement in their developers team, while I had just started working for a big French corporation on an internal business intelligence application.

We also wanted to get a side-project started, working together on it while discovering new web technologies. This project is called HousingList 😎

As it’s also related to our nomad needs, maybe there will be an article about it soon…

Owl statue in Makino, lake Biwa

So, now you can understand why, as nomad workers, we really enjoyed Japan’s awesome benefits. When you know you’re at liberty to literally stop anywhere, and get some work done, then it becomes way easier to actually get the work done.

We only had to plan ahead a couple of days of visits, and then, quite naturally, we would end up spending some time in a café, or anywhere else, and get some work done. It could also be our Airbnb or hotel room (that’s how we got HousingList started actually 😂).

We did not actually get around any planning methodology or anything of the sort. Sorry about that letdown!

We just worked when we wanted to. Empowered by this really friendly japanese environment, made of reliable and portable Wifi, and cool places to work from, literally everywhere throughout the country.

In conclusion, I would say that being a remote / nomad worker is not that complex, at least on the actual working part. Just aim to foster this environment I just described for yourself: reliable and portable internet connection, and nice places to work from. Then the world will truly be your oyster.

But what about YOU?!

We'd love to meet you and go for a ride.

Join us