7 unbelievable jobs that actually exist in Japan

By Oona McGee

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you achieve your dream? If that’s got you thinking about a career change, you may want to look to the Land of the Rising Sun because in Japan there are some unusual employment opportunities available. From human dog food testers to bad smell specialists, we’ve found seven surprising jobs for you to consider.

1. Dog Food Tester

How far would you go to show your love for pooches? If you’d go as far as testing their food to ensure they’re eating right and getting a tasty meal at the same time, then this is the job for you.

Estimated income: 10,000 yen – 20,000 yen a day.

2. Vinegar Sommelier

Mitsuyasu Uchibori is Japan’s premier vinegar specialist, and he’s being touted as Japan’s first summelier (a pun on the Japanese word for vinegar, "su"). His qualifications for the job? Uchibori’s family has been making vinegar in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture for more than 130 years and his nose and palate have been trained to detect and distinguish various levels and notes of acidity.

Expected income: Unknown. Mr Uchibori is the first summelier in Japan and he’s keeping his cards close to his chest.

  1. International Hand Carrier

This is not the macabre job involving carrying human hands internationally, but rather the job of carrying things internationally by hand. From boxes to briefcases, secret documents and prized possessions can be delivered door-to-door anywhere in the world thanks to this special delivery service. The upside for workers? Free international travel! Although you may end up carrying a hand in a briefcase without knowing about it.

Expected income: 15,000 yen – 50,000 yen.

4. Insect breeder

Insect breeders are required for sales and research and can be expected to look after and rear all types of creepy-crawlies like cockroaches, flies, weevils, termites, and even blood-sucking bugs and dangerous beetles.

Expected income: 3 million yen – 5 million yen.

5. Bad Smell Specialist

Known officially as Olfactory Measurement Operators, this job actually requires national certification. As Japan is one of only a few countries to have a law applying to odours in the environment, known as the “Offensive Odor Control Law”, odour operators are required to find the source of bad odours and help ensure odour limits are maintained to safeguard residents. Currently, there are over 2,000 Olfactory Measurement Operators in Japan.

Expected Income: 2.5 million yen to 5 million yen.

6. Shoe Fitter

Shoe fitters are expected to be all-round experts when it comes to footwear, giving advice on a wide range of topics from choice of shoes to the walking style of adults and children. In Japan, shoe fitters are divided into three grades – Primary, Bachelor and Master, according to their level of qualification.

Expected annual income: 3.9 million yen – 10 million yen.

7. Wedding Ceremony Attendee

What do you do when you only have a few close friends but you want the church overflowing with guests on your wedding day? The answer is simple – you rent a guest! Companies offering this service are becoming more widespread throughout Japan, with “guests” available to give speeches, help out at the reception desk, and stand in as friends and co-workers.

Expected income: 5,000 yen per wedding, plus you’ll receive food and wedding gifts for free.

Source: CuRazy

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Should have made this list 9 and added elevator attendant and parking lot baton conductor.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Where do I sign up for the "Dog Food Tester" job ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm pretty sure most, if not all of these exist in a lot of other countries, not just Japan.

I know for a fact that 1, and 3 do.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What about "team of six men guiding pedestrians around a small hole in the pavement"?

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Okay, so regarding #5... How about the unbearable stench that comes out of the sewer manholes in summer? Has that ever been addressed or just accepted? Why does it even exist in the first place?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Family member: "So, which side of the family are you on?" Paid guest: "The left side."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What about "team of six men guiding pedestrians around a small hole in the pavement"?

yeah, that one for sure!

Anybody remember the halcyon days when pretty young ladies were paid to polish escalator hand rails, presumably to save us all from catching nasty hand infections?

Shoe fitter is definitely not a Japan-only thing. Heck, where I'm from, there is such a thing as professional bra fitter!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How about poo-van driver? Where I live there are people who drive around in vans extracting "waste" from the houses of people who are not connected to sewers. The drivers and vans have a very distinctive odour.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Isn't # 3 just a courier? In any event, #s 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 certainly exist outside Japan. As for #2, it's a job pretty much because Mr. Uchibori says it is. While I don't know what his qualifications are, there are other "vinegar experts" out there. So much for another "Oh! Isn't Japan just so crazy and unique?" column.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

How about poo-van driver?

They did have an equivalent, in days gone by: night soil collector.

A few more:

tissue distributor host/hostess (in bar or club) sweet potato van man (slight similarity to ice cream man in other countries) fake minister for wedding ceremonies
3 ( +4 / -1 )

Some interesting jobs but if it keeps someone employed with a decent wage then i'm all for it. There are also fake ministers for wedding ceremonies in Australia. They are called marriage celebrants

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The guy who reviews all the adult videos for censorship or the guy who has to censor the videos (this is a real job that was advertised!).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How about office toilet cleaner (no candidates over 5 feet tall should apply)?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'm wondering if any other country has people driving around in vans selling bamboo washing lines. I've never understood how this could be commercially viable, but it must be. Is this uniquely Japanese?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

just saw a similar list of 10 unique part-time jobs in Japan this morning:

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about Government Office Bucho (Section Manager)?

High salary, bonuses, strictly 9-5 (though the rest of the office does overtime until 11PM), duties include shuffling pens on desk, drinking tea and staring blankly into space.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

No. 3 is just a courier, a completely normal job. Loads of people do it with important documents.

I was on a flight into Japan one time with a person doing exactly that, and he was simply going to take a taxi from the airport straight to Kashiwa, then back to the airport and on the next flight out.

He said that the tough part was that most of the time he didn't even know what was in the package/envelope, and customs could often be a pain when he told them he didn't know what was in it.

I guess he had some kind of licence to do what he did though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

5 and 7 are not Japan only. 3 is kind of dangerous as the person could be carrying drugs into countries that make drug trafficking a capital punishment offense. For no.1, does a human taste pallets same as a dog's. Do not know it is an upgrade for dogs or an insult to the tester.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I know a girl who, during her student days, was hired by a TV company to go to a recording studio and say "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhh?" in a variety of intonations and lengths and degrees of astonishment for three hours.

The resulting material was then dubbed over various TV shows which required a sound effect of disbelief to tell the viewers that what they were seeing was entertainment, no matter how dull it might appear at first glance.

She was paid 17,000 yen for the afternoon's work.

I bet that isn't a job you find in every country.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Many years ago, one of my students had the job of obliterating the public (misspelling) hair in the photos they used in Playboy and similar magazines. She would go into a special room, the door was locked and she would paint over the offending areas with nail varnish.

That's probably the most unbelievable job I've heard of in Japan.

I wonder what the job title was - I wish I had asked her now!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anyone familiar with Japan may consider it so normal as to forget it is unique to Japan-- Hostesses, and then Hosts, are just way weird and way common for what they are- compensated companionship of a sexy (but not sexual (usually (but it's vague…))) kind. Never mind kyaba, snack, etc variations.

My complaint with this list is only a couple have "per", so we don't know if it's the monthly or yearly or what salary.

Also, if the fake wedding guests are getting 5 thou, the fake priests are being totally cheated-- their jobs are now down to about 8 thou (from 2 mahnn ave back int the day), and they have to get up and run the show!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I guess I'm lucky then, still getting ten thousand per wedding. And I get about 15 weddings a month!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nice to see sign twirling hasn't made it's way across the Pacific yet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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