I get asked a lot about how to get involved with Japanese startups, how to connect with other founders in Japan, and for advice on how to start a startup in Japan. I enjoy answering questions and talking about startups, but I am a fundamentally lazy person, so I put this together to save some time and hopefully provide some value.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. In fact, we are barely scratching there surface here, but the following resources will plug you directly intro the heart of the Japan startup scene and connect with Japanese startups even if you don’t speak much (or any) Japanese.

This is a very personal list. These are events I attend, the services I use, the websites I read, and people I trust.

Japanese Startup Events

HackerNews

There are dozens of startup events in Tokyo, but this is the best place to start networking with Japanese and foreign startup founders. HackerNews is held monthly, and there is usually a good mix of Japanese and foreigners, and programers and business types. If I’m in town, I usually show up.

Startup Weekend

A weekend-long startup simulator, and a great first step if you have never run a startup and want to understand how to create a good business plan and also gain some insight into the stressful team dynamics involved in starting a company. Startup Weekend is non-profit, run by volunteers, and laughably inexpensive for the experience you get. I volunteer as a coach or a judge occasionally. They run a lot of events and the quality varies considerably, but the “International” events are done in English and tend to be quite good.

Doorkeeper

Run by a couple of foreign entrepreneurs in Tokyo. This is a great way to discover bilingual startup events  in Japan. I monitor this site closely.

Tokyo Startups United(ツ)

Tokyo Startups United only hosts a few events per year, but they are worth attending. Most of them are large, casual drink-ups that attract a good mix of founders, investors, press, engineers, and people who just want to drink and talk about startups in Tokyo.

Startup Jobs in Japan

 Wantedly

Wantedly has an English interface, but most of the content is still in Japanese. If you speak Japanese this is the place to find out which Japanese startups are hiring and to arrange to visit their offices. Wantedly is a hotbed for startups looking for employes and for aspiring founders looking for each other.

Justa

An English-language jobs board catering exclusively to the Japanese startup community. They are relatively new, but they are serious about serving Japan’s startup community. No English teaching or modeling jobs to be found here.

Jobs In Japan

One of Japan’s first and best job sites for people looking for work in Japan. Jobs In Japan is not particularly start-up focused, but lists a huge variety of open positions available to those without strong Japanese-language skills.

Japan Startup News

I know there are more famous sites that cover Japanese startups. There are certainly better funded and more prolific sites, but these are the two sites I read every day. They have people on the ground. They are smart, well connected and seem to be working together a lot these days.

Other Resources

Japan Entry 101

This great resource is maintained by a group of Japanese founders who are now in San Francisco working on various new ventures. Great information on Japanese investors, tech conferences, co-working space, etc. The guys behind this are friends of mine. They are smart, well-connected, and they genuinely want to help startups. If you are a startup founder interested in Japan, you need to take a look.

JETRO

We Americans have been conditioned to disparage just about anything developed by the government. JETRO, however, has put together an amazingly useful site. This is probably your best source of information about the laws and practices surrounding starting and running a company in Japan.