My Bread & Butter in Japan

My Bread & Butter in Japan

- 13 mins

Table of Contents:

So I received a 2-month internship offer from Mercari JP, Tokyo. This blog contains a generic (and dare I say, informal) overview of the entire process!

You can skip to relevant sections, if that’s your thing. 🙃

About the company

I’ll plug in a sweet summary from their careers website:

Mercari Group is a Japan-based corporate group operating in both Japan and the US under a mission of “create value in a global marketplace where anyone can buy & sell.”

Mercari Group operates several businesses. The first is Mercari, Japan’s largest marketplace app allowing anyone to enjoy easily buying and selling items from their smartphone. Additionally, the Group offers Merpay, a simple, entirely in-app payment service, and Mercari Shops (Souzoh), an e-commerce platform for small businesses.

I joined the company in the summer of 2022, with a position of Software Engineer Intern (Backend) - Mercari, viz. the marketplace application.



Something spesh ✨

What caught my eye (and eventually helped me in my interviews) were these standard mnemonics:


You're gonna see this a lot!

I reminisce about so many exemplars, virtually in messages/policies/docs and on-site conversations, reminding me of this. 🙌

Internship Offer

The entire application + interview rounds + relocation took about 2.5 months, with relocation being the longest (and may I say, tedious 😂) component.

Stumbling upon Mercari

It was late February in ‘22, I heard one of my college friends scoring an off-campus internship at some company in Japan.

Now given that time’s barren lands of companies visiting on-campus for internships, it immediately caught everyone’s attention. And like everyone else (😂), I congratulated the boi 🔥 and glimpsed at the JD of the internship.

The (daunting) Job Description

It came as a reminder of my denseness, that I had already noticed the opening in January ‘22 at one of many OaaS platforms out there, but I didn’t pay much attention to it then.

OaaS: Opportunities as a Service - as I like to call it 😝

Hitherto, the sheer hopelessness got the better of me.

The internship was in Tokyo, Japan, and some of the description was written in Japanese!


If you don't know Japanese, tell me if this doesn't scare you 🥲

I was preemptively frustrated the company would send out template rejections because of Visa/work authorisation requirements.

I know people would sync with the extreme resentment for template rejections, but as a friendly reminder, we should always read the description thoroughly:


Visa support!

Well, look at that.

Relocation + Visa support 💫

At the time of applying, I believed that my internship would be in a remote setting, similar to my friend’s. Only after the interview rounds was I conveyed that I’ll be travelling to Tokyo for the internship! 💀

Referral time 🫡

The friend from college (Sayantan) didn’t join yet; he couldn’t refer me, so I quickly scanned LinkedIn and sent personalised connection requests to multiple employees of Mercari.

I made a few genuine connections, some of whom I’m in occasional contact with (Rishabh), and have helped me along the way. 🤝

Applying was the only remaining step after being referred by a very friendly and supportive employee (Prashant). 🌟


The process consisted of 3 rounds:

  1. Online Assessment (HackerRank)
  2. Technical Round (2 Engineers)
  3. Managerial Round (1 Engineering Manager)

Online Assessment

Duration: 60 minutes
No. of Questions: 3
Difficulty: Easy~Medium LC

The assessment was on the easier end, in contrast to the insane difficulty levels of conventional companies.

I’d given Goldman Sachs assessment a short while ago.. the contradistinction of Easy/Medium was utterly apparent 🙄

Technical Round

This was the most interesting round among all.

Duration: 60 minutes
No. of interviewers: 2 Engineers
Difficulty: idk 😂

I didn’t discern what type of questions they could ask, so I had a breadth-first approach to preparation.. and a day before the interview I went through frequently asked interview questions.

However, as astonishing as it may sound, I wasn’t asked a single Data Structures/Algorithms/Core subjects/Development question!

Instead, I was evaluated on “how would you approach” type questions, for example, how would you approach:

…you get the idea.

This round wasn’t the most technically difficult - compared to ones I’d given before. But it was by far the most exploratory one. 🙇‍♂️

At the end of the interview, I received a dulcet feedback (hopefully 👀) from one of the interviewers, something nigh: that it’s good that I answered meticulously, but interns (in general) aren’t expected to respond in this technical depth.

I don’t think you can really “prepare” for these technical/behavioural questions; however, having a generic idea of company motto/aim really helps ~ try to plug ‘em in your responses! 🫡

Managerial Round

Duration: 60 minutes
No. of Interviewers: 1 Engineering Manager
Difficulty: Moderate

This round mostly revolved around my past experiences and projects. I believe this was to match candidate’s values & goals to the role they’re applying to, and to the company’s vision.

The interviewer came prepared with a set of questions, and at the end we had an informal chat about how I’ll be able to save money on food during office days. 😆

Seeing how managerial the technical round was, I had prepared for the actual managerial round in advance:

Mercari really focuses on their 3 core values (Remember I talked about them earlier? Yeah, those), and they’ve documented it all pretty well. I’d suggest anyone going for their interview to dig into their culture docs as a preparatory measure.


Another friend of mine (Anmol) had his interview process along the same timeline as mine; only he was applying for Android position, while I was in for Backend.

We both received our offer letters on the same day, sometime around first week of April. The entire interview process and results took around 3-4 weeks to complete. 😬


I managed to learn a few Japanese phrases, including the famous “arigato gozaimasu” (Thank you), some common nouns (for eg., “Toire” - Toilet 🙊) and most importantly “what-not-to-do” in Japan (for eg., you shouldn’t stick your chopsticks inside food/vertically, unless you’re at a funeral 😥).

Hella Documents! 📝

A handsome amount of documents were required, all for a single piece of document known as COE (Certificate of Eligibility), which is issued by the Bureau of Immigration, Japan.

That document is so important, that the original one gets shipped from Japan to you, which is further required for your Visa application, immigration in Japan, residence card.. you get the point. 🤯


So apparently almost everybody in India got vaccinated with COVISHIELD or COVAXIN. But here’s me 💁‍♂️ thinking about better efficacy rate - had myself vaccinated with SPUTNIK V. 🫣

Two doses later, I realise my vaccination is not approved in 60% of countries out there (including Japan). 😢


this didn't age well 😂

So, I’d travel to Japan as an individual with no valid dose of vaccination, which meant extra measures such as a quarantine period of 7 days after travel, RTPCR tests both before and after the travel, etc.


if only :')


After the entire visa process, the relocation folks booked my ticket in the largest airline of Japan, with cosy seats, staff, food, drinks and amenities! It never really felt like an economy class seat.


live route in the attached tablet

A tip if you’re travelling to Japan: Make sure to use the FastTrack service - It will make your check-in, screening, immigration, etc. much, much faster. 🤝

People are amaazzing! 🙇‍♂️

As another reminder of my denseness, I forgot to configure my internet settings for the new SIM I received from the company, and I went for groceries on my first day… without being connected to the web. 🥲

Thankfully, I asked a guy on the road, “Sumimasen, Supermarket wa doko desu ka.” (Excuse me, where is the supermarket), the response to which I did not understand 🥹, however he walked me directly to a supermarket.. it was almost a kilometre away, and he stayed with me throughout. 😳

I’ve had multiple such instances, where you can literally observe concern in their body language, and they all stuck with me until the very end! Respect well earned. ✅

TrafficLight Festival

(on left) people wait ~2 minutes for such small intersections! 🥹
(on right) people wearing kimono at a festival just outside my apartment!

A lovely full-service apartment!

The accommodation (provided by the company) is really well furnished, with a mesmerising view from the attached balcony.


Fun fact: the sun starts coming out around 3:30AM here 🤯

The bathroom has utilities a person from a country like India would really appreciate. 🤭 (iykwim)

It’s located in a very convenient location, with 24x7 convenience stores, subways/metro stations, restaurants, temples, dispensaries/hospitals within walking distance.

A profound hack 🥰

I rented a bicycle, in a contract with accommodation folks, and I’ve been going on frequent rides at any point of day/night, as far as 10 km!

It really gives you a lot of flexibility and room to explore (even at 4AM in the night), and not get walk-tired. And it’s safe, with dedicated lanes and considerate people.


bicycles are pretty common!

Food 🥹

Food here is expensive. And if you choose home-delivery (UberEats shine here), you’ll literally eat through 3 days worth of food money. 🥶

Bento boxes, are much more economical, with full meals coming in lunch boxes you can heat up anytime in microwave and eat away.. that is, until you get bored of them. xD


A Bento box

Apart from this, there are regular team or onboarding lunches, wherein a fat amount is reimbursable by the company. 😬

You’re gonna have a hard, really hard time here in Japan if you’re a pure vegetarian.

The Office 🏢

Mercari has a YOUR CHOICE policy, wherein you can choose to work from the office or remotely from your home (in Japan). There’s also an option to work 10 hours a day (the login-logout system isn’t strict, however), so that you can work 4 days a week!

MercariOffice1 MercariOffice2

the aesthetics are 🫶


the observation deck!

And then there are free vending machines, for drinks, equipment, and so on.

TerraceMorning TerraceNight

The terrace (Morning vs Night!)

If you’re coming from the LinkedIn post, you probably have seen all these beautiful buildings, including the Skytree and the Tokyo Tower!


Sweet spot in the office!

Ending notes

As I stated earlier, my interviews were moderate in terms of the technical challenge; however, they involved a lot of creativity, and having past internship experiences helped. 🙇‍♂ The interviewer took time to check out my website, which shows they care about the applicants.

Something I learnt from the interviews at Mercari:

You should never lowball your own skills, no matter how compelling your environment or the people in it are.

It has been my first international travel, my first time cycling through the streets alone at night, stopping wherever I want, to have a chat with strangers, to sit in a park, to try new food on my own!

Anmol, who was supposed to join with me had to defer his internship to next January due to an unexpected situation, so I came to Japan alone. 🙄

Now being alone in an entirely new country can get intimidating a bit, but the people here are very supportive. The accommodation folks even gave me a small tour of Tokyo, and I tried my first sushi with them! ❤️


my first sushi came on a bullet train! 😂

I thank them, the interviewers, the TA team, the relocation team, my friends and everyone reading this right now. I hope you had a worthy time going through this write-up! I’ll end with meme about me visiting the office for the first time:


it says "congratulations on joining the company" xD

Also, Mercari hires interns all seasons (even now) – all you need to do is apply!

Dropping my socials in case you wanna have a chat (or have a doubt):

Website: - You’re here right now

…you get the point, I go by @aitikgupta throughout the web! \o/

Aitik Gupta

I go by @aitikgupta throughout the web! \o/

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