How to Work in Japan in the Food and Drink Industry
With the Japanese labor force shrinking and tourism on the rise, Japan is hungry for more workers from abroad to help in the food and drink industry. Have you wondered how to work at a Japanese restaurant? Thanks to the new Specified Skills Visa, it is now much easier to get a Japanese work visa and live in Japan. All you need to do is pass a skills exam and learn some basic Japanese. If you love food and love Japan, this may be a good fit for you! Even if you have no experience, it is possible to study and work in Japan in the food and drink industry. This includes restaurant jobs or manufacturing for food and drink products. Whether you are a waiter, cook, food packager, etc. there are opportunities for you in Japan, if you are willing to learn.
The Food Service Industry Skills Proficiency Test
This test aims to measure the level of ability required to work in Japan under the Specified Skills Visa. The food and service industry skills proficiency test will evaluate if you are able to prepare food and drinks, serve customers, and manage shops in the Japanese food service industry. Some specific skills and knowledge are required to pass the exam and work in Japan. The exams are designed to ensure that only eligible workers will be hired. However, with some studying, you can pass with ease.
It is a computer based test provided by Prometric. You will have a total of 80 minutes to answer 45 questions. Currently the exam is available in English, Burmese, and Khmer. Applicants must be at least 17 years old to apply. For Indonesian workers, you must be at least 18 years old when you apply.
How can you apply for the skills exam? In order to participate in any exam by Prometric, a Prometric ID is needed. A valid email address is necessary to receive a Prometric ID. You can set up your ID at the Prometric official website.
Applicants may select from these three categories:
- Food Service Test: Standard
- Food Service Test: Cooking
- Food Service Test: Customer Service
Each test has two sections that are separated by the types of questions.
Hygiene control, Preparation of food and drink, Customer service, and Japanese Language ability will be evaluated in the section. To pass the evaluation, you will have to answer questions related to these categories.
- Hygiene control: 10 questions related to general hygiene, HACCP, food poisoning, and more….
- Preparation of Food a Drink: 10 questions related to knowledge about cooking, ingredients, and cook tools…
- Customer service: 10 questions related to serving customers, eating habits, handling complaints….
Practical Skill Test
There is also a practical skills section where you will be asked questions based on a variety of situations. The problems may come in the form of an illustration. You must answer 3 judgment questions and 2 planning questions for each category: hygiene, preparation of food and drink, and customer service.
That is basically what will be covered on the text, but don’t forget that you will also need some basic Japanese Language skills to work in Japan.
JWL offers courses for necessary Japanese to find a job in Japan.
Learn Japanese now and work in Japan!
For more details about our courses, click here.
Now, let’s look a little bit closer at what you will need to know for the Skills Exam to work in Japan in the Food and Drink Industry.
Customer Service is obviously a major part of the food and drink industry. As a foreigner in Japan, this section may need extra attention when studying for the exam, as customs in Japan may be different from what you are used to in your your home country.
You may have heard the phrase “omotenashi no kokoro“, which means “the spirit of hospitality”. This concept is very important in Japan and should guide all of your actions in the service industry. Anyone who has experience Japanese omotenashi knows knows it is truly special. It has become part of the Japanese identity and will be expected by customers in Japan.
To express omotenashi, there are certain motions or kata that you must memorize and practice to perform perfectly. These actions may include bowing, how to gesture towards something, welcoming guests with a smile, standing with a straight back, keeping your hands clasped in front of you (not in your pockets or crossing arms), and more….
It is important to perform these actions with sincerity, even when you are exhausted during a difficult shift. It is important for the business that each customer is treated with care. Your goal is to give the customers a greater experience than they expected. If you are successly, Customer Satisfaction (CS) will be high. High CS will lead to Repeat Customers, who are people who come back to the restaurant or establishment time and time again.
Here are some more factors that determine the satisfaction of customer: QSCA
- excellent taste, quantity, temperature, and speed
- serve with a smile and polite attitude
- properly clean the restaurant, organize, and maintain personal hygiene and professional appearance
- make sure the customers are comfortable. This factor may be influenced by hard aspects or soft aspects.
- Hard aspects: the restaurant’s exterior appearance, facilities, and interior look
- Soft aspects: The cuisine, customer service, and staff attitude
- make sure the customers are comfortable. This factor may be influenced by hard aspects or soft aspects.
Food and Drink Knowledge
As a worker in the Food and Drink Industry in Japan, you are expected to know a great deal about the products you are serving to your customer. This is highly important for a number of reasons that is beneficial for the business and also the wellbeing of the customer.
To avoid putting customers in a dangerous health situation, you should be familiar with various kinds of food allergies and know all of the ingredients that are included in each dish. The law in Japan states that it is mandatory to label all processed foods that contain allergens likely to cause a reaction. If you make a mistake, the consequences could be fatal. Here are 7 items that must be properly labeled and given special attention:
- buck wheat
In addition to having general knowledge about the different kinds of alcohol, there are a few key points to keep in mind when serving drinks.
It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 20 in Japan. You need to check the ID of someone to make sure they are of the legal drinking age. It is also prohibited to serve alcohol to anyone who will be driving a vehicle, such as a car, bicycle, etc. In a group, you should check who the designated driver is.
If someone under the influence of alcohol is acting aggressively or becomes hard to handle, alert the restaurant manager or someone of similar authority to take care of the situation.
Some customers may care about their diet and nutrition. You should be prepared to answer any questions they have about the food served at your restaurant. Please remember these 5 major nutrients and what foods commonly contain them.
On the topic of diet and nutrition, you should also know about food diversification. Halal is one of the major classifications. “Halal” means that something is allowed in Islam, and “haram” means the opposite. As the Islamic faith is one of the 3 major religions in the world, you should be familiar with the dietary requirements. Around 1.6 billion Muslims around the globe practice Islam. Please understand halal.
Vegetarian and similar diets are also quite popular. Either for health or other reasons, some customers may not be able to eat meat or other animal products. Vegan is much more strict and does not even allow eggs or dairy products. Please be aware of the customer’s requirements before serving them. You should also be careful when cooking not to use the same pans, knives, cutting boards, etc. that were used with meat, unless it has been cleaned.
How to Manage a Restaurant
Preparation for the day at a Japanese Restaurant
The restaurant environment is very fast paced. You may be asked to take on some more responsibilities, and perhaps even be asked to manage a restaurant if you perform well. In a typical day, preparation for business includes:
- Cleaning the parking lot and entrance
- Cleaning the toilets and making sure there is enough toilet paper and towels
- Making sure there is enough tableware, glasses, etc.
- Tables and chairs are in the correct place
- Check for reservations and prepare
- All staff are in place and ready to perform their roles
Cleaning the Restaurant
Cleaning is a major task for preparations at the beginning and the end of the day. A clean kitchen, especially, is important to ensure that the restaurant runs properly and gives customers a product they deserve. Cleaning should always be done from the top down. Also remember to be as thorough as possible and do not clean with dirty cloths and tools. Avoiding contamination is key.
Cleaning is an ongoing process. That means that you will be expected to be cleaning throughout the service. All staff members should be cleaning and being proactive to prevent the restaurant from becoming messy.
Taking Payment in Japanese
Recently Japan started a cashless craze. The country that is notoriously known for being a cash-based society is now using chargeable cards and smartphones to make payments. Please be prepared to take the customer’s payments in a variety of methods so that you do no back up the lines and cause frustration at the counter.
Emergency Response at Restaurants in Japan
You should be prepared for any emergency, whether it be a sick customer or natural disaster. Your quick and correct response is vital. Since it is such an important subject, expect it to be a large part of the evaluation.
If a customer becomes ill, provide some water and bring them to a quiet place to rest if available. Carefully lead them to the bathroom if they are able. To clean up vomit, you must use gloves, apron, mask, and other sanitary tools. Vomit may contain dangerous viruses that can spread easily. Disinfect everything after using it.
In a serious case where a customer is chocking, you should ask if they need assistance, then deliver 4 to 5 strong blows to the back, between the shoulder blades. If the food cannot be dislodged, call an ambulance immediately.
In Japan, there are many earthquakes, so you must be prepared. First ensure your own safety by protecting your head from falling objects by hiding under a table. Once you are safe, begin checking on the customers around you. Wait for a while and begin evacuating customers out of the building. Be very familiar with the proper protocol in case of a fire or earthquake.
Japan is known for its delicious food, and it is a great country to live and work in. If you have a passion for food and Japanese culture, consider working in the Japanese food and drink industry. Very little experience is needed, and it can open up some great opportunities in the future. To learn about the expected salary for the food industry and other jobs in Japan, check out this article here.