Ancient temples woven into bamboo forests, festivals with old incantations of long lost dialects spilling onto the streets, and open air hot springs daringly embedded in active volcanoes. It’s no wonder nearly 20 million people and rising come to visit Japan each year. There are a number of ways to come and see the country, the main one being a tourist visa for Japan.

Temporary visitor stamp

What exactly a tourist visa can do

In order to fly into Japan and make it past immigration and out of the airport, visitors are required to have a visa. In the case of tourism, tourist visa for Japan allows a temporary stay for those looking to sightsee. Depending on the visitor’s home country, tourist visas allow up to a 3 month visit (90 days).

The tourist visa is exactly as stated. It’s for tourism. If visitors come to tour, backpack, go to conferences, see friends/relatives, etc., then this visa is perfect. Anything else though—any kind of activity receiving pay, extending allowed time, anything non-tourism related—then a different kind of visa along with different applications will be required.

How to get a tourist visa for Japan

Nationals from certain countries must obtain a tourist visa for Japan in advance in order to enter Japan. Among these countries are Russia, China, India, Brazil, the Philippines, some Asian countries, and some Middle Eastern and African Countries. In addition to this, specific rules apply to each country, so please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan website to learn the requirements and print out the applicable documents.

Document processing is usually free of charge, although there will be a charge for the actual visa. This fee varies according to whether the visa is single entry, multiple entry, or transit. Visitors should also make sure their passport is valid for 90 days following their departure date from Japan.

There are currently 67 countries exempt from requiring a visa to enter Japan. Citizens from most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, and North America are allowed a stay of 15, 30, or 90 days in the country depending on their choice. This means visitors from these countries can arrive at a Japanese airport without having previously applied for a visa, and receive a stamp that allows for an allotted time in Japan.

To check whether their country is visa exempt, visitors should check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website. Although visitors from these countries are visa exempt, it’s important to remember that this still means visits must be tourism related.

Finger prints at the airport

Provisions and rules

There is a bit of fine print! All visitors must make sure they carry their passport with them at ALL times. Whether just stepping out of their hotel room for a bite at the convenience store (by the way, this is a fun recommendation, as Japan’s convenience stores have an interesting variety of food and drinks) or going hiking outdoors, it’s Japanese law that visitors must always be carrying their passport.

If ever asked by police or authority, visitors must present their passports. It’s also necessary to have a return ticket on hand. It’s up to the discretion of the officer at the port of entry to check for that ticket, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s not overly difficult, but the most important thing is for visitors to check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in terms of what visa rules apply to their country. After that, come see what this beautiful country has to offer. The “tourist” in “tourist visa” is definitely there for a reason.

Japan isn’t just Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Okinawa has waters so blue and clear you can sometimes see the bottom of the ocean floor. Kyushu with its rich, hearty, simmered pork bone (豚骨, Tonkotsu) broth, Shikoku with its 88 temple pilgrimage, or Hokkaido with its long scenic roads; the country has so much to offer, chances are you’ll need to come back for another tourist visa for Japan! If you can’t wait to experience all these wonderful locales for yourself, definitely check out Studytrip.com, where there’s all kinds of programs to suit Japan lovers’ needs!