A top shot of a woman working on a laptop with a cup of tea and a flower next to her.

If you live in a city and want to start an office, it might come off really overwhelming with skyrocketing office rents costs and other basic logistics for starting a company. You might even find a physical office redundant with a small workforce and access to information technology at the convenience of your home. This is no different in Japan, especially if you plan to start a company in Japan’s capital, Tokyo.

Basics of a virtual office

A virtual office that is also sometimes referred to as a “VO” provides address (and sometimes communication) services for a fee, without providing dedicated & physical office space. It usually differs from “co-working/shared offices”, “office business centers” or “executive suites”, which do provide physical office space and/or meeting rooms in the majority of cases.

Such an office exists through the technology that you work from. You can pay for a virtual office, which provides you with a number of benefits that we a going to examine below. The key advantage that one needs to know straight away is having an official business address, a place for your work mail and even a receptionist to transfer a client to your number. The virtual office is all about remote work while having all the benefits and professionalism of working from a dedicated office space.

Advantages of a virtual office

Savings. The cost of virtual offices is usually low. Still, you get all such basic services of a standard office as a meeting space, a receptionist, and work mailbox. Additionally, there is no cost to refurbish the rented premise to its original condition. In Japan landlords of office premises usually require an upfront deposit called genjo-kaifuku (原状回復 ) to cover the refurbishment

Virtual office is also extremely flexible and scalable. One gets the flexibility to match expenses with revenue fluctuations immediately, as the costs are usually variable. A virtual office can allow for low-cost expansion with no long-term commitments. Users taking advantage of virtual office receptionists eliminate the traditional burden of paying for employees’ health care, records, payroll, insurance & rent. Also, traditional time off (sick days, vacations, personal leaves, etc.) does not apply to virtual staff.

Prestige and image. A lot of virtual offices offer addresses in prestigious central business districts of major cities Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Fukuoka and others. It can help to sustain the image of a professional business without having to maintain a traditional physical office.

Flexibility. Virtual offices give you the flexibility to work during your most productive hours from anywhere: home, cafe, any location abroad, etc. You can create the most comfortable working environment to boost your productivity. In such a way businesses can balance home and work duties to gain and leverage efficiencies in both.

Stress-free management. Virtual offices pose fewer risks than traditional ones. Besides massive savings they provide, vIrtual office contracts and the offices themselves are much easier to manage. Moreover, such offices reduce the frustration associated with work commuting or difficulties in finding a parking place.

Eco-friendly choice. By eliminating the need for an actual space, staff, commuting, etc. virtual offices are significantly cutting down on a carbon footprint the regular business activities may leave.

Nowadays, the advent of technology can bring you to the farthest part of the world, which a traditional business style cannot walk you through when starting a business in Japan. To add on that, it devises the easiest platform that connects people in the entire world in many different ways plus its innovative concepts of helping you embark into a more potential and profitable world at your best comfort.

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Disadvantages of a virtual office

Even though the number of disadvantages is significantly lower compared to advantages, they can pose some serious problems depending on your business situation.

First of all, you cannot have a virtual office if you are applying for an Investor/Business Visa. This type of visa requires an applicant to set a proper equipped physical premise. The process of getting a business visa sometimes includes a visit from officials to check the office you have prepared. In such cases having only an address is not enough.

Secondly, such offices are still not considered to be proper and “serious”. This may be the reason why in some cases businesses are required to rent an actual space to start their operations.


As businesses look to trim expenses, virtual office services help reduce overhead while keeping professionalism high. The portability of today’s technology also allows for a more flexible work environment. As businesses trend to a more “online” workplace, the notion of paying for space full-time becomes anachronistic.

Remember, however, that in some cases virtual offices cannot be used as a substitute to a traditional one.

Virtual office FAQ

Is getting a virtual office as hard as a traditional office?

No, it is much easier. There are fewer fees involved and you can have your “office” much quicker.

Why virtual office cannot replace a traditional office when getting the business visa to Japan?

It is an old practice based in decades of starting businesses exactly this way and a remaining thought that a virtual office is not the real one, not the place where serious people would do serious business. Also, having a traditional office can be a proof of your sufficient funds to start a company in Japan.

What if I need to hold a meeting with the clients?

Virtual offices usually have meeting spaces and you can borrow one for those occasions.

Can I have both a virtual and a traditional office at the same time?

Yes, this is a solution that some entrepreneurs find reasonable. A physical office can serve some core needs (giving an actual physical address to a business, a place to receive post, etc.)  while the main operations are happening in a virtual office.

Is my business address publicly available?

No, your business address is not publicly available, unlike your legal registration address that is a matter of a public record.