Gaijins of Japan: Deby Sucha from Indonesia on How to be a Professional Photographer in Japan

Author: Jen Santelices

Published date: 22nd November, 2019

Meet Deby Sucha, an Indonesian who is currently working as a professional photographer in Tokyo. She is one of the persistent few in a small but growing group of foreigners who were able to obtain the elusive artist visa of Japan. Her story is one of a consistent state of hard work and effort, and of continuing to challenge what is possible for foreigners in Japan.

We talked to her on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon at the SPeak office, and despite the chilly weather, Deby entered the room and greeted us with a warm smile and bright, friendly eyes. It’s these same eyes that peer through camera lenses and produce photos that grace the webpages of her clients, such as Airbnb and Getty Images to name just a few.


How did Deby get to where she is now in the first place, and what path did she take to land an artist visa, something highly coveted by creatives across Japan?

Before she was landing big-name clients, Deby had her roots in Jakarta, Indonesia as a girl who documented her daily life in school with her friends and occasional band rehearsals. She visited Japan for the first time in 2007, after winning a photo contest that allowed her to visit for the first time.

“I came to Japan for five days, and I thought, this is a really interesting country,” she recalls of her trip. “I really wanted to know about their creative stuff. I came back to Indonesia and did a little bit of research about creative stuff in Japan, and then I tried to find my way back [through] events or opportunities that I can join.”

After a string of short-term volunteer work that kept heightening her curiosity about Japan, she finally decided to take the leap and live in Japan full-time in 2012, despite her mother initial