Another huge challenge in choosing a marketing internship in Tokyo is that the person in charge of marketing may not know anything about marketing at all. You could be wasting your time because you will only learn marketing to an amateurish level that would make it hard for you to find a position at an innovative company or a competitive company full-time. You really need to be selective when choosing a place to intern because you are making a 6 month to 1 year commitment and you may not be paid, so make sure you know exactly what you want in return for your investment in time.
Many foreigners and Japanese in marketing positions actually do not know that much about marketing even though it is their full-time job. The main reason this happens is because a company has a stable income to support hiring a marketer and they want to get more customers, but the CEO and other founding members may not actually know marketing themselves and therefore may be unable to coach the person who will be mentoring you. In other cases, they often put foreigners into marketing positions who have no background in marketing. Many small to medium size Japanese businesses assume that because you are a foreigner, you immediately know how to market to foreigners in Tokyo and put you in a marketing position role. This sounds hilarious...I know, but it happens so often that I am not surprised at all.
Be cautious of startups
Many startups are fun places to work because everyone is excited and looking forward to changing the world. However, as an intern, you need to be aware that the definition of a startup is a company that has not succeeded yet. I have seen many startups look for interns to support with social media marketing or to generate business for no money. Rather than giving them a clear action plan or training on how to do social media marketing effectively, interns are just told to figure it out. These types of internships in Tokyo are fun but if you are volunteering your time for free, you really need to maximize your learning.