Preparation Before Flying to Japan

Monday, February 16, 2015

Last May 2014, I traveled to Japan with my best friend. But before the actual trip, I had to persuade my parents to allow me because it would be the first time I would be leaving the country without family supervision. I made all the necessary preparations and research, from budget to itinerary, to the point that I made an elaborate PowerPoint presentation to convince them. It was quite handy actually, so I am posting about it for readers who may want to visit Japan and also for my future reference.

First Step - Getting a Japanese Visa


my Japanese visa~

Getting a Japanese tourist visa is actually pretty easy -- if you have complete requirements. For my first trip, I successfully got my visa in less than a week last March 2014. I also heard that the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines will be more lenient in granting visas starting June 2014 to encourage tourism. That's good news. :) For my second trip to Japan last month, I submitted the same requirements, but to a different travel agency. This time, I got a multiple entry visa valid for 5 years! It's really helpful to have complete documents when applying. 

Take note that the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines only processes visa applications through accredited travel agencies. Here is the list of accredited travel agencies for Japanese Visa applications (compiled this info from their website):

Universal Holidays, Inc. http://www.universalholidays.com )
Mezzanine Floor, Dusit Thani Hotel Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-859-3857 to 60 

Discovery Tour, Inc. http://discoverytour.ph/japanvisa/single-or-multiple-207.html )
Unit 301 G/Floor Sagittarius Building, H.V.Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-892-2849, 02-843-5832, 02-843-5083
Handling Fee for Tourist Visa - PhP 800 per person

Rajah Travel Corporation http://www.rajahtravel.com )
3/F Gercon Plaza 7901 Makati Avenue Makati City
Contact No. 02-894-0886

Reli Tours & Travel Agency ( http://www.relitours.ph )
Mezzanine Floor, Dusit Thani Hotel Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-893-9226

Attic Tours Phils., Inc. http://www.attictours.asia )
Unit 202 Coko Bldg.1, Patio Madrigal Compound, 2550 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Contact Nos: 02-556-6301 to 05

Friendship Tours and Resorts corporationhttp://www.visa.friendshipmanila.com )
3rd. Fllr., Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-810-9622, 02-893-8180, 02-819-5644
Handling fee for Tourist Visa - PhP 1,200 per person

Pan Pacific Travel Corporation http://www.panpacifictravel.ph )
353 E.T. Yuchengco St., Binondo, Manila (main branch)
Contact Nos: (02) 521-3141 to 46

I went with Friendship Tours because it was recommended by a friend for my first trip. Their handling fee for single entry visa is PhP 1,200. For my most recent trip last week, I was granted a multiple entry visa. I submitted my documents to Pan Pacific Travel Corporation, Makati branch. Their handling fee is PhP 2,000, or PhP 1,000 if you book a hotel/ticket from them.

Here are the requirements for Tourist Visa:
  • Philippine Passport -- must be valid for at least 6 months, with at least 2 blank pages
  • Filled-up Visa application form -- this is probably available in the travel agency office, but you can download this from the Japanese Embassy of the Philippines website here. I suggest you fill it up and print before going to the agency to save time.
  • 4.5 x 4.5 cm ID picture with white background -- this should be PASTED on the application form, not stapled or taped. I submitted two pieces just in case.
  • NSO Birth Certificate -- ORIGINAL copy. You can get one delivered to your doorstep in 3-5 working days for only PhP 350 from this link. :) Take note that your NSO BC name should tally with the name on your passport. But if you already applied for a Japanese visa before, no need to submit this, just send them your old Japanese visa.
  • NSO Marriage contract (for first time applicants, if married)
  • Printed Tour Itinerary -- this is also available in the travel agency office, but again, it's best to print your own using this format
  • Bank Balance Certificate -- make sure the amount is sufficient to prove that you are capable of providing for yourself for the duration of your stay in Japan. 
  • Income Tax Return (Form 2316 or Form 1701) -- you can get this from your HR department if you are employed
  • If employed: Certificate of Employment -- also get from your HR department. This is to prove that you have a work to return to in the Philippines and won't go "TNT" or look for a job overseas.
  • If self-employed: DTI or sec business name registration with list of incorporators
  • Additional docs: roundtrip airline tickets and printed hotel/accommodation reservation
If you have all that, you're all set! Just submit to an accredited travel agency nearest you. :)


Rent a Pocket Wifi


This will be incredibly useful to access maps, food reviews, japanese translation apps using your tablet/smart phone. You won't ever get lost. :) Also, I got to post pictures on Instagram and send updates to my family at real time because I was always connected. Internet in Japan is so much faster, and it's unlimited too.

I rented my device from Wifi-on-the-go office here in Manila. It costs only PhP 450 a day. You can even divide that amount if you are sharing with friends. It can connect to a maximum of 8 devices! :) You don't need to rent one at the airport because you can already pick-up the device in Manila, two days before your flight -- how convenient is that! :) Just make sure you would not lose/damage it (or else you have to pay for the device itself) return it back to your pickup location

I got the E-Mobile device both for my trip to Osaka last year and my recent trip to Tokyo. The signal was great and reliable. There were just a few subway stations where it would lose connection, but overall it's quite strong and handy. It even had signal in Susono and Gotemba area near Mt. Fuji.



Why rent?
  • no need to hassle yourself in renting at the airport -- pickup the device in Manila and return it back in Manila after your trip
  • get unlimited internet connection anytime and anywhere, so it's perfectly fine if your hotel does not have wifi. 
  • access train routes and maps online
  • post pictures or status updates real-time
  • contact friends or family via Skype/Viber (or whatever social media account / messenger you use)
  • access updated rates of foreign exchange
  • know how to communicate a few words in Japanese via Google Translate
  • much cheaper than roaming rates and it does not drain your cellphone's battery as much

How to rent?
  • visit http://www.wifionthego.jp/product/ to order online or you may inquire at the accredited travel agency where you applied
     If you ordered online:
  • fill-up the necessary details (name, flight details, length of rental)
  • pay the needed amount via credit card (Paypal) or bank deposit
  • wait for an email confirmation or call from wifi-on-the-go office
  • pickup the device two days before your flight to Japan at the travel agency/wifi-on-the-go office
  • return the device two days after your trip


Things to Bring

This is already a given when travelling, but I'm listing down my personal to-bring list for future trips:

  • Passport with valid visa
  • Mobile phone with charger
  • handy-dandy iPad with itinerary and all my notes
  • sufficient pocket money
  • Printed airline tickets and hotel accomodation
  • clothes for the duration of your stay (swimwear for beach, warm clothes for winter)
  • toiletries and skincare products -- all in ziplock bags for safety in case they make a mess due to air pressure in the plane
  • wet-wipes (for cleaning hands, removing makeup) and moisturizer -- very very important in winter, and also to use in the airplane because my face always gets dry during/after flights
  • makeup and hair iron (because I can't go out in public without fixing my face and hair)
  • extra foldable bag for the flight back (when you shop too much and it won't fit your luggage anymore)
  • powerbank
  • hand carry bag for daily use (just enough to fit my wallet, phone, powerbank, and lipstick)
  • camera with charger/extra batteries
  • instax with film
  • sunglasses (I use these when I sleep on the plane / bus, especially if the flight is at wee hours in the morning)
  • neck pillow for long flights (it's a hassle to bring, but you'll thank yourself when you actually have it)
  • extension cord with universal adapter (so you can charge all your devices using one outlet. Take note that you must check-in this with your luggage.)

Planning your itinerary

I am very OC when it comes to planning my itinerary for trips abroad. The idea of getting lost in foreign places is not always fun, most times it can be very time-consuming and exhausting. I'm sharing a few helpful websites/apps that I used in planning my Japan trips.

japan-guide.com -- know which places to visit

This is my go-to website to search for anything about Japan, especially to know more about the tourist destinations. It includes top rated places to visit, opening/closing schedules, information in entrance fees, and the nearest JR/subway station. It summarizes the essential information on most sightseeing areas, so you won't have much trouble going from one website to another. There are so many places to see in Japan, so it's best to narrow down those that you want to see the most, and schedule them accordingly. 

HyperDia -- know exactly how to get to your destination

I use HyperDia while planning my itinerary, and also during the trip itself, while on-the-go. It's incredibly useful because it shows the exact train/subway schedules and suggests the most efficient way to get where you want to go. All you have to do is key in the starting location (nearest station) and the destination, and it will show you which line to take, where to transfer, how long your travel will be, and how much. You can search the train routes in advance so it's possible to accurately plan your itinerary to the minute. It's amazing. I wish they had it here in the Manila. 

Tokyo Rail Map+

If you're more of a visual person, this is an iPhone app that you can download to get a clear picture of your route. Since HyperDia presents your route in tabular form, it can get confusing when you're actually in the middle of the station and there are so many subway lines and colors connecting to each other. This app highlights on the map the exact route I take, and I use this to know how many stations left until I get to my destination.

I use both HyperDia and Tokyo Rail Map+ during my trip. During the times that I fail to follow my itinerary, I can revise spontaneously and not get lost because I get search for alternative routes right away. Oh, but wifi is needed to access them.


And I think that's about it! Plan ahead so you can maximize your stay. Enjoy Japan!