Japan 101 – What You Need to Know and Prepare for Your Trip to Japan

Welcome back to new edition of FeastnTravel. Starting this week, we are going to move to new interesting destination, Japan. Japan, an interesting place to visit, a place where manga coming from, technology admired produced, a place where modern and tradition can live together. Many of people are interested to visit Japan, however some cancel their wishing trip due to expenses, language afraid become an actor in lost of translation world or don’t know what and how to prepare for Japan trip. I just visited Japan last February, and 5 experiences I enjoyed most in Japan :
a. Roaming around the Tsukiji Fish Market. You can find different type of fresh seafood,    and tuna with high skill people slice the tuna. Eating sushi at Tsukiji is a must. I think it must be the best sushi that I ever had until this time and I can still remember clearly on the taste.

b. Experience japan stay in Ryokan. Why not trying to experiences how Japanese live. A stay in Ryokan is one of the thing you must do at least one night during your stay in Japan.

c. Strolling into temples in Kyoto and Nara including Ginkakujin, Kinkakujin, and other temples.

d. Experience onsen and Japanese spa. You can try different kinds of spa including the one with coffee water, wine and ocha.

e. Experience the Shinkansen, japan’s rapid train.

 

 

For this  week edition, it is dedicated for you who interested to visit Japan or would like to prepare to Japan.  Important things you have to know and prepare for your trip in Japan :
1. Visa
First, you need to know whether you need to apply Visa to enter Japan. At the current time, there are 62 countries have exempted Visa agremeent with Japan which means for short term normally 3 months or 90 days visit will not require Visa for visiting Japan unless for longer period of stay. Some of the countries are Singapore, Brunei, Hongkong, Korea, and Taiwan, Macau and etc. List of exempted visa countries are available here.

Unfortunately for Indonesia and Philippine visa holder will require visa for visiting Japan, in which the Visa will be valid up to 3 months from the issuing date (means you can visit Japan the latest up to expiry date of the visa) and stay there normally up to 15 days. For tourism, Japan will normally grant only single visit visa, unless you visit Japan for business purpose. For single entry visa application will cost you IDR 325,000 for applying in Indonesia and SGD 47 for Indonesian hold EP (Employment pass and PR applying from Singapore), for Philippine based on information from the Japan embassy website, no fees are required unless applying for long term visa  😆

Please note for Indonesian applying visa in Indonesia need to go to the embassy or consulate’s juridiction where the passport is issuing For example, for passport issued in one of the city in North Sumatera, then the passport holder need to apply from Medan’s consulate office, and can not apply from Japan embassy in Jakarta even stay and work in Jakarta for long time already. Personally, I feel inflexibility of this rule, and hope the embassy will review current rule as many of Indonesian from many cities in Indonesia work in the capital city, Jakarta. To check where you need to apply the Visa for Indonesian in Indonesia, please check here. Visa application normally will be issued at 3rd working days, however it could be varies depends on other factors as well, hence suggest you apply the visa 1 – 2 months before your visit. Documents required for applying the visa will depends on type of Visa.

For temporay sight seeing purpose, you will need following documents :
a. Original passport
b. Visa application form & 1 Passport size photo. For visa form applying from Singapore can be downloaded here and here for visa form for applying from Indonesia 
c. Certificate of employment from your employer/ student registration
d. Flight Itenary
e. Updated bank passbook or bank statement showing latest one month banking transactions.
f. Photocopy of ID card. For applying from Singapore one of these photocopy ID : EP, IC for PR, WP (work permit), DP (Dependent pass), student pass or long term social pass.
g. Additional documents if your visit has financial sponsor, additional documents of letter of sponsorship, latest 1 month personal bank statement or passbook of sponsor accompanied with sponsor photocopy of ID and passport.
h. If your application is via tour agency or other parties, you will need to prepare letter of authorization. 

For visa application from Indonesia, documents required are more complicated with additional below :
a. Itenary during your trip in Japan
b. 3 months bank statement/ pass book contain 3 months transactions.
c. If your visit is sponsored by relatives or friend in Japan, you will need documents proving your relationship with the people in Japan ie : birth certificate, or family ID, invitation letter, and letter issuing by the domicile where respective person in Japan stay (Juminhyo for Japanese, or Alien’s registration card/ certificate for foreigners stay in Japan). More documents will be required if the people who invite also finance/ sponsor financially, which include one of the document : tax reporting document (kakutei shinkokusho hikae), bank reference, last 3 months bank statement/ pass book, and employment letter from the employer’s sponsor explain the salary and working period.

For updated list of document and information, kindly refer to the Japan embassy website for respective countries :
a. Singapore 
b. Indonesia

You can apply for Japan Visa in following address :

a. in Singapore (Monday to Friday, and closed on Singapore and Japan national holidays)
Japan Embassy
16 Nassim Road, Singapore, 258390
Application      : 08.30 AM to 12 PM
Visa collection : 1.30 PM to 4 PM
Phone  : +65-6235-8855
Fax       : +65-6733-5612

b. in Jakarta (Monday to Friday, except national public holiday and Japan public holiday)
Japan Embassy Consular section 
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.24
Jakarta, 10350, Indonesia
Visa Application  : 08.30-12.00
Visa collection      : 13.30-15.00
Phone   : +62-21-3192-4308
Fax       : +62-21-315-7156

2. Japan Rail Pass
Many people wonder and have no really idea whether they need to apply for Japan rail pass or not. The answer depends on your itenary and where you would like to visit during your stay in Japan. My suggestion if this is your first visit and if you stay there only for 1 week or less, better focus on one area/ perfecture, ie : Tokyo or Osaka area cover Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara as main attractions. The most interesting places in Japan according to me and most of the travellers will be Kyoto. Hence if your visit is just one week or less and less then one week, suggest not to visit Tokyo and focus on cities surround as there are many places to visit in those cities. For this, you will not require Japan rail pass, as you can save your money by using local trains in those areas. In Osaka surround area, there is private train, Hankyu which cost cheaper compared to Japan rail company, one trip ie from Osaka to Nara approximately cost you about 200 – 300 JPY compared to Japan rail pass fee for normal seat which will cost you 28300 JPY for one week. Or if you still insist to visit both Tokyo and Osaka nearby within one week, one of the way to do it arrive in Tokyo and depart leaving from Osaka, or vice versa, and for this you will also not require Japan rail pass, and can buy normal ticket which cost you about 13,220 JPY for one week on Hikari and Kodama train. There is also promo ticket normally sold outside the train by discount travel shop, in which you can get return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka for only 20,000 JPY. The location of the discount travel shop normally around the train station, and you can find it selling tours. In addition to that, there is also discount ticket available if you book in advance one week before for JR Tokaido shinkansen  :
a. Hikari Kodama Jiyusekiyo Hayatoku  Kippu (25% discount) for trip between Nagoya and Osaka with non reserved seat on Hikari or Kodama train, 

b Hikari Hayatoku Kippu (10% discount) for trip between Tokyo or Yokohama and Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, Himeji or some other minor stations with reserved seat on Hikari train.

c. Puratto Kodama economy plan (25% discount) for Kodama train with at least one day ahead booking. 

Please note, for Japan rail pass holder can not take Nozomi shinkansen, but can enjoy Hikari, the second fastest shinkansen train and other slower train, ie : Kodama, and other express and local train. The journey time between Nozomi and Hikari is not much different, for nozomi for journey between Tokyo and Kyoto takes about 2 hours and 18 minutes while for Hikari 2 hours and 49 minutes.  For checking the train schedule and fares in Japan, you can visit following websites : www.hyperdia.com or www.jorudan.co.jp.

Japan rail pass can only be bought by foreigners who visit Japan for short visit only or Japanese who reside outside Japan and this can only be bought outside Japan. After you get into Japan, there will be no way for you to purchase the pass. So be smart, plan ahead and consider carefully whether you will need this pass or not.  At the time, you purchase Japan rail pass at your home country, you will receive Exchange order to be changed with Japan rail pass in one of designated Japan rail office. Some of the Japan rail office where you can change the Japan rail pass include Narita airport, Kansai Airport, Tokyo station, Nagoya station, Kyoto station, Osaka station, Hakata station, Haneda  airport international terminal. Full complete list of the exchange order office with the operating hour is available here. For change your exchange order, you will need to show your passport.

Other important thing you need to know is regarding the validity of your Japan rail pass. For pass showing 7 days validity, the validity is based on the calender days, not actual hour (24 hours for one day), so whenever you activate your pass whether in the morning or nearly midnight, it will be counted the same for one day. If you arrive in Japan nearly late midnight, stay more than 7 days but only have 7 days pass, suggest not to use it directly to maximize the usage of your pass. At the Japan rail pass exchange order office, you can tell the staffs not to use it on the same day you come to the office, but put the first date future date. Your pass will indicate you the first and last date of your pass’s validity.

 

3. Bring sufficient cash with you.
Please note most of ATM machines in Japan do not accept outside Japan’s ATM card, so please ensure that you bring sufficient cash with you. Credit card outside Japan mostly can be accepted during purchased in stores, however if you want to withdraw cash from credit card (cash advance), you will also encounter the same thing with the ATM/ debit card. In addition to that, you might also find out many of transactions that you would like to perform requires you pay in cash. If you run out of cash, you may visit 7-Eleven stores or post office. You can identify the post office by its symbol, T.

4. Understanding basic Japanese will help you much during your trip
In general, Japanese people are helpful and willing to help in case there are foreigners/ stranger ask for direction/ help. However many of them do not understand English or have limited English. It’s will be helpful for you to learn just a few sentences of simple and basic Japanese like the ones below :
– Summimasen : Excuse me 
– Summimasen, eki wa doko desu ka : Excuse me, where is the train. You may change the eki (train) with other place, ie : Kinkakujin, or other place you would like to go.
– Arigato Gozaimasu : Thank you so much
– Watashi wa nihongo o wakarimasen : I can not understand Japanese

5. Search first whether the city you visit has special pass for transportation and compare with your itenary. Some of them are so worthed, for example : one day Kyoto buss pass only cost 500 Yen in which equivalent for about 2 rides, so it much – much cheaper. Some places, for example Hakone, transportation cost is so expensive if you do not have special pass and just pay per ride. Detail of each pass will be posted along the next articles of each city.

 For the detail and tips for each cities in Japan, wait for our next edition. See you.

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3 Responses to Japan 101 – What You Need to Know and Prepare for Your Trip to Japan

  1. Sri Utami says:

    I would totally love to go to Japan !!!!! …… for the second time …:))

  2. Tia says:

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