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Earning Potential & Scheduling

At Gaba we know that our Instructors choose to live in Japan for many different reasons. To this end, we offer independence.

While most companies hire Instructors to work fixed schedules from a pre-determined location, Gaba’s unique “gyomu itaku” contract allows Instructors to choose their own schedules and request particular studios.

With this comes control over one’s income – open a larger schedule to increase your income, or shrink it down to increase your free time. At Gaba you can fit your schedule around your hobbies and interests, and customize your income to suit your life in Japan.

Independence is a key word for us here at Gaba –  it’s a trait we look for in our Instructors, and the cornerstone of our booking and scheduling system.  Our Instructors have a large degree of influence over their income each month, choosing a schedule/ income balance that suits their life in Japan.


Upon completing Gaba’s Initial Certification program, instructors begin teaching. All Instructors start at the competitive rate of 1500 yen per 40 minute lesson taught. Of course, as each instructor designs his or her own schedule, monthly earnings will vary from person to person. To earn more, instructors make themselves available to teach more. An Instructor’s income in any given month will consist of per-lesson payment for all the lessons they teach, booked lessons that were cancelled last-minute, and other incentives the Instructor has earned. In order for Instructors to increase their per-lesson pay rate, Gaba designed the “belt system” to reward high performers. Both incentives and the belt system are covered below.

For many, Gaba is their primary source of income. These instructors regularly teach over 200 lessons a month with top performers taking home well over 300,000 yen for their efforts.

The Belt System

Gaba has eight lesson rates or “Belt” levels to recognize professionalism and quality. Moving up beyond the entry level rate is a matter of merit, not tenure. There are minimum performance requirements for each level and meeting them gives the instructor the potential to “Belt Up”. Criteria include lesson quality as judged by the clients, performance as gauged by studio staff, and voluntary participation in Developmental Certification. Each month, eligible instructors are reviewed and the top performing among them will be teaching at a higher pay rate to start the next month.

As of April 2023, around 60% of Instructors have moved beyond the starting belt level.

Belt A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 D1 D2
Peak Lesson ¥1,520 ¥1,620 ¥1,700 ¥1,800 ¥1,900 ¥2,000 ¥2,100 ¥2,200
Non-Peak Lesson ¥1,500 ¥1,500 ¥1,500 ¥1,500 ¥1,500 ¥1,500 ¥1,600 ¥1,600


Gaba instructors are not employees but independent contractors. In essence, each instructor is his or her own business offering a service. Under this status – gyomu itaku as it is called in Japan – you decide the hours and days of the week you teach. Submit a schedule of as many lessons as you can comfortably teach factoring in your other commitments.

Upon deciding a schedule for the month, instructors submit their requested hours for publication on GabaWeb. Once posted, clients freely choose when, where, and with whom to study.

Gaba instructors teach a wide range of different schedules – a reflection of their diversity. Many instructors choose a Gaba schedule to fit around other obligations. For example, instructors enrolled in Japanese language school Monday to Friday might decide to teach at Gaba after classes two or three evenings a week and all day either Saturday or Sunday.

Need a vacation? There is no vacation request process. An instructor planning to take a break simply doesn’t submit a schedule for that period. Get away for a week, three weeks, a month… we only ask that you tell us beforehand.

Opening Hours and Peak Times

Gaba’s Learning Studios are open early and close late. Weekend hours are shorter but often the busiest days of the week.

Opening Times*
Weekday hours: 7:00am – 9:55pm
Weekend hours: 8:30am – 8:30pm
*NOTE: Opening times in some Learning Studios vary slightly from the above

As our clients are working adults for the most part, they tend to study with us outside of standard office hours – we get busy on weekdays in the morning and evenings before or after work, and then all day at the weekends. In recognition of this fact, we designate specific times as “peak lessons”, where demand for Instructors is higher. Lessons made available during these times have a much greater chance of being booked by a client. In addition to higher booking rates, Gaba offers incentives designed around the peak time, for example the “belt” system and the “Peak Numbers Taught” (PNT) Incentive.

Peak times

Weekday mornings – 7:00am – 9:15am (where available)
Weekday evenings – 5:30pm – 9:55pm
Weekends and holidays – all day (all lesson slots)

Lifestyles in Detail


Sara has been in Japan for about 6 months and is here on a Gaba sponsored visa. Gaba is her sole source of income.

Lives in a share house in central Tokyo with a mix of expat and Japanese housemates.

15 minute train ride to the Learning Studio.

Teaches on Monday, Thursday, and Friday afternoon/evenings and all day on weekends. Takes Tuesdays and Wednesdays off.

Free Time:
Saving up to explore and travel Japan. Enjoys snowboarding, karaoke, and photography. Visits the local sports center twice a week.

Income (after taxes):

Sara schedule photo


Ben has been living in Japan and teaching with Gaba for 5 years. Gaba is his sole source of income.

Lives in an apartment in east Tokyo.

20 minute train ride from the Learning Studio. *see schedule for more details.

Teaches mornings and evenings on Tuesdays and Fridays, only evenings on Wednesdays, all day on Saturdays, and half days on Sundays. Takes Monday and Thursdays off.

Free Time:
Takes Japanese lessons once a week. Plays football on Sunday afternoons. Travels overseas at least twice a year.

Income (after taxes):



Daniel has lived in Japan for over 15 years and is on a spouse visa with his family. Gaba supplements his income to support his family in addition to his other freelance work.

Lives in a larger apartment in a suburban area north of Tokyo.

Rides a bike to the Learning Studio (15 minutes). *see schedule for more details.

Teaches weekday mornings and all day on Saturdays.

Free Time:
Spends time with family in the evenings and all day on Sundays. Works on his freelance translation work in the daytime.

Income (after taxes):

Daniel schedule


Lisa has just recently arrived in Japan and her primary focus is to study Japanese, but Gaba is a good way to assist with her living expenses while she studies.

Lives in a guesthouse with mostly Japanese housemates in Kawasaki with easy access to Tokyo and Yokohama.

Takes the train 10 minutes from her Japanese language school and 30 minutes from home. *see schedule for more details.

Teaches all day on Sundays and Monday to Wednesday evenings. Takes Thursday-Saturdays off.

Free Time:
Goes to a Japanese language school in the mornings/afternoons on Monday to Friday.

Income (after taxes):

Lisa schedule

Instructor Comparison

Remaining  ¥ 112,130  ¥ 152,066  ¥ 45,274 ¥ 22,764
Instructor Sara Ben Daniel Lisa
Available Lessons / Month 208 200 148 128
Booked Rate 75% 80% 80% 75%
Total Lessons Taught 156 160 118  96
Evening/ Weekend Peak Lessons Taught
38 87
 Morning Peak Lessons Taught
0 18 48 0
 Non-Peak Lessons Taught
38  24 32 9
Belt Level Belt A2  Belt B2  Belt A1  Belt A1
Peak / ¥1,600  Peak / ¥1,800  Peak / ¥1,500  Peak / ¥1,500
Non-Peak /  ¥1,500  Non-Peak / ¥1,500  Non-Peak / ¥1,500  Non-Peak / ¥1,500
Basic Earnings from Lessons ¥245,800  ¥280,800  ¥177,000  ¥144,000
PNT Incentive ¥4,704  ¥16,296 ¥4,704  ¥4,704
Morning Incentive ¥3,600 ¥9,600
Before Taxes ¥249,874  ¥300,696 ¥190,674  ¥148,074
Consumption Tax (+10%) (as of Oct 1st 2019) ¥24,987 ¥30,070 ¥19,067  ¥14,807
Withholding Tax (-10.2%) – ¥25,511  – ¥30,700 – ¥19,467  – ¥15,117
After Tax ¥ 249,350  ¥ 300,066  ¥ 190,274  ¥ 147,764
Accommodation & Utilities -¥80,000  -¥90,000 -¥85,000 -¥60,000
Transportation -¥17,400  -¥8,000 n/a -¥15,000
Food -¥40,000 -¥50,000  -¥60,000 -¥50,000


PNT Incentive

The “Peak Numbers Taught” incentive was devised to recognize and reward instructors who commit to teaching when needed most. Peak times are early weekday mornings (7:00 to 9:10am), evenings (5:30pm to 10:00pm), and all day weekends and holidays. Teach 80 or more peak lessons in a single month to qualify. The payout increases for surpassing 120 and 150 peak lessons. The amount of the payout is determined as follows: 35 yen is placed in a pool for every lesson taught Gaba-wide. At the end of the month, the sum in this pool is divided among all eligible instructors. The PNT incentive is available to all instructors regardless of belt level. Note: receiving more than one negative client evaluation in the month in question disqualifies the instructor from this incentive.


Early Morning Incentive

Studying in the early morning (Monday to Friday) is particularly popular among our business clients. They like to sneak in a lesson before heading to the office. For those instructors who rise early to provide lessons at 7:00, 7:45, and 8:30am, an additional 200 yen is added to their lesson rate. Teach in the early morning and receive this incentive. Simple as that!


FM Incentives

For instructors interested in sales, Gaba offers certification and support in how to perform “First Meetings”. These are lessons provided to prospective clients. Once certified, each successful FM conducted will earn the instructor an incentive in addition to their usual lesson rate. FM A certified instructors are eligible for a 2000 yen incentive per successful lesson (i.e. where the clients decides to continue studying with Gaba). FM B certified instructors earn a 3000 yen reward.


LPA Incentive

Another means to augment income is by becoming an LPA certified instructor. Clients periodically take a “Learning Progress Assessment” to gauge how they are faring. These are not regular lessons and are a critical component in assuring clients’ steady achievement of their language learning goals. Every LPA conducted earns an incentive of 1000 yen in addition to the instructor’s usual lesson rate.


And more...

There are periodically other incentives. Two examples are referral incentives and seasonal peak lesson incentives. The former is paid out to instructors who encourage acquaintances to apply to teach with Gaba. Speak to a recruiter at the time of application if such an incentive is in place. The latter, seasonal peak lesson incentives, are introduced at times of increased lesson demand. The summer months are often busy with clients free to take additional lessons but instructors off on vacation. Instructors available to teach are rewarded and Gaba avoids the need to recruit additional instructors to cover the temporary surge in demand. Win-win!

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