Getting a Schengen Tourist Visa from Tokyo (France)

I applied last August 6, and this afternoon I received my visa with a personal note (in Japanese) saying “Enjoy!”.

So. Time to pass on the experience.

Before applying

  1. Book your appointment online. In my case it was at least two weeks before I see the next open one. You can easily change it, so book it now! Oh, and print that out.
  2. Prepare requirements.
  3. Get your leave approved by the boss! Actually, since you are in Japan, I assume, better get that approval as step 1.
  4. If you are using the letter pack, take note of the tracking number so you can check if the post is on its way.

During the application

  1. See the post right before this one.

After the application

  1. A, the good old waiting game. Keep waiting sweetie.
  2. One week later, you can check the status of your visa (status as in whether it’s done processing, not whether it is approved or not). If it says that there’s no passport being processed with the details you key in, assume it’s still in progress.

The Requirements. 

The most I’ve ever had to prepare. Let’s get to it.

  1. Checklist. Just print it out, and tick what you’ve submitted. As there are items with options, what I did was underline what I prepared to meet that requirement. For example, I didn’t book a tour, just did my itinerary, so I just underlined “program of my visit” in number 8.a) 2.
  2. Visa application form. That’s easy.
  3. Photo. Again, easy.
  4. Passport. Probably the easiest. I submitted a barely stamped one as I got a new passport, so I offered the old one (with the old Schengen visa) They didn’t nope, they’re good with just the new one. Oh, I presented the original AND a copy.
  5. Cash. 60euros in local currency. Ouch.
  6. Resident card. Just provide a copy, and be ready to show the original.
  7. Employment Certificate. (comment if you want mine). Basically it should  have the company header, date and signature (or stamp), with your name, hiring date and monthly salary. In the Philippines we need to be working with our company a year or so (at least that’s what we think), but here I’ve been with my company 10 months and there were no issues. They’re happy to keep just the original copy of this one.
  8. Purpose of stay. Just printed an itinerary (they ask you about it, so be ready), and underlined “other document showing the program of the visit”
  9. Proof of itinerary. I provided a return ticket. Now, here you have the option of getting a tour company to reserve one for you, or paying for it yourself. I decided to take the risk and just book it (and thus have the cheapest one. I got my tickets at around JPY77,000 yen. I’ve been checking lately, and the cheapest one at this point is more than JPY100,000 yen).
  10. Proof of accommodation. I book via booking.com, and make it a point to select no prepayments AND free cancellations.
  11. Money. Get a photocopy of your bank statement (or passbook), and make sure it’s updated. It’s 65 euro per day, multiplied by number of days and exchange rate. I wrote my calculation in this sheet. I think I needed around 80,000 yen. Then since they need 3 months, I also did the computation for them to show when’s the earliest date they need to check. The embassy girl praised me, so I think it worked. Bring your passbook too so they can check it. They’ll return it to you and just keep the photocopies.
  12. Insurance. I paid 15 euros for this. Just google Mawista. Yes, it is a German insurance, but I had no problems with it.
  13. Minors. meh.
  14. Self addressed envelope with an 82 yen stamp. Just buy it when you buy your letter pack.
  15. B. Letter Pack 510. Keep note of the tracking number!

 

And that’s it! Now I’m flying to France soon!

 

 

 

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French Tourist Visa from Tokyo

August 8, 2018

As always, Filipinos need visa everywhere blah blah blah.

So for those who need a Tourist visa from France – not just limited to those from the Philippines – here’s my experience. I do not have the results yet – so when I do get my visa (hopefully!), I’ll post all the requirements and what I did. If I don’t post anything… oh well. 

Quick tips:

  • There’s no consular in Nagoya, despite what google says. It is ONLY in Tokyo.
  • Apply for your appointment the moment you book your ticket. They have around 10 people/slot; 5 slots per day, so it CAN be limited. Here’s the link. It says that June to September is busy, and in my case (today’s my appointment), I had to wait almost a month for the next available appointment.
  • The place can be a bit far from the stations, but google can help. It is right next to a school, white building, and well, embassies are pretty obvious (with the government seal and what not)

My Experience:

  1. At the entrance I was scanned (pretty standard). They have a list of people to come in – hence the around 10 people/slot comment above.
  2. You get your name called (yey, no assigned number! You are actually treated like a person haha)
  3. I come in, and she asks for the preferred language (of course Filipino is not an option).
  4. She asks for my requirements, I pass them to her. I asked if she needed my old passport with my old Schengen visa, she said no. While looking at my papers, she asks if I’m going as a tourist (yes), and what places I’m planning to visit. So I recited my itinerary (which is in the file) ⇒ Paris, then Versailles, then Mont Blanc, then tree house in Estretat (where we both laughed), then back to Paris. She complimented how organized things were (will that help? I hope!), and asked me if I know how much the fee will be. I said EUR60, and she gave me the JPY amount (7802yen). She tells me go and wait for my name to be called again so I can pay.
  5. Within 5 minutes my name was called, and I paid. There she took my fingerprints (I don’t know why – my last fingerprints were still valid) and my picture.  She then confirmed if I want my passport delivered by post or if I want to pick it up, I said I want it delivered.
  6. She said I’m done, and so I leave.

I came in around 9:25 (at a 9:30 appointment), and was done at 9:50am.

And now I wait.

Flying Jet Star – you get what you paid for… unfortunately.

June 3, 2017

Well, we get what we paid for.

I think this is my fourth time flying jet star – but first for international.

I understand why the seats are extremely cramped. I understand that there are no food nor drinks. What I don’t understand is why they had to spray aerosol an hour before landing across the entire aisle (over the cabin, straight, continuous pray from the front to the back, both sides). Not once, twice! Are they trying to save time for landing? Are they trying to cover up some bad smell?

#whyjetstar

Tokyo to Kansai Region

For some unexpected reasons, I had to go to Kyoto in July, then Osaka the next week. The easiest solution? A two to three hour ride in the Shinkansen (bullet train). How much is a ride? ~JPY13,000 one way to Kyoto. That’s the end of my plans to ride the Shinkansen. Time to bring the cheap accountant out.

What are my options? Shinkansen, normal train, bus and plane.

  • Shinkansen is JPY13,000 one way, around 2-3 hours.
  • Normal train takes around eight hours, the cheapest I found was JPY9,000.
  • Bus ranges from JPY5,000 to 14,000 depending on the type of bus. The sleeper, high end bus is of course the most expensive. You can do the overnight one, to make the eight-nine hour travel less useless.
  • Plane can be as low as JPY4,000 (Jetstar, Peach, Vanilla) to JPY20,000 (ANA), and less than an hour.
    • However, one should include the travel time to/from the airport and the cost.
    • Based on this, plane rides can only go as low as JPY6,000 and takes around four hours
      • JPY4,000 plane
      • JPY1,000 ticket to Narita
      • JPY1,000 to Osaka from Kansai airport. It’s JPY3,500 from Kansai Airport to Kyoto, though there’s a JPY1,700 option with multiple transfers

It’s a no brainer – it has to be a bus if I’m going to Kyoto, but I have flexibility between flying and using the bus to Osaka.

Willer Bus

I used Willer Bus, and lucked out. They had a sale! I paid JPY5000 for this bus, at probably around 50% discount. The meet up point is about a block away from Kyobashi Station of Ginza line – they do provide a google map accessible link in their email.

I was a bit disappointed with this bus station. It’s clean and good, I was just spoiled with the overall transport system of Japan. 

We left at 21:12ish, then arrived 5:48 the next day.

The entire seat inclines (yes, the entire seat). It’s a decent imitation of a lazy boy. I’ll give it a 7/10 in imitating the lazy boy.

Going back, I took a different bus (because this one is not on sale anymore), and that was a painful trip. The seat reclines a lot, yes, but it’s pretty narrow and, well, basically the pains we had to go through with a normal long bus rides. I don’t wanna go through it again. T.T

So for my Osaka trip, I just booked flights. Maybe next time I’ll still book flights for Kyoto trips, or hopefully, have my company pay for my Shinkansen tickets.

 

Up The River

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July 15, 2017

A trek alongside the river and falls of Mt. Kawanori is just the thing to do in summer. As a training hike for Mt. Fuji, my friend and I decided to go up Mt. Kawanori, which, based on the blogs, requires a 6-7 hour hike overall.

Our Actual Itinerary

  • 5:15 leave home
  • 6:46 take rapid line to Okutama station in Shinjuku. This is the earliest train.
  • 8:21 arrive at Okutama station, the last stop. Take a bus going to Kawanoribashi (Bashi is Bridge). This bus is right in front of the station. Take note though, a lot of people take this bus so if you are willing to stand, the  just go in. This will take less than 10 minutes.
  • 8:45 start hike. We ate a quick snack, took some photos, applied sun screen etc. Take note, somewhere on the hike, you’ll have to choose between going straight to the summit (the tourist way) or pass through the falls (the hiking way). We took the right turn to the falls.
  • 10:00ish we arrived at the Falls
  • 12:00ish summit. We stayed for a quick 20 minute lunch, and photo ops, then went down. Some of our friends who walk fast got there 40 minutes before us.
  • 15:30ish at the station
  • 15:45ish back at Okutama to take the rapid line to Shinjuku

How Much?

  • Train from Shinjuku – JPY 1080 (1hr)
  • Bus to jump off – JPY260 (or 280?)

We had a side trip, but I figure the return trip should be more or less the same.

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On the first hour of the hike, there’s plenty of these bridges. You really are just following the flow of the river. 
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The source of the river? This HUGE falls. I don’t even remember it’s name, but it was pretty big. It was also a less than five minute walk from the main trail to the summit.
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After passing through the falls, the trail is pretty generic. But it’s all OPEN fields. OPEN. Meaning there are no corners for you to crouch and do your business, if you know what I mean. So what did we do? We did it out in the open.
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Finally, I see the end!
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dum dum dum dum!!! Here’s the summit marker.
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And unfortunately, this is all the “view” we got to see. The summit is surrounded by trees. T.T

Archery in the Forest

July 23, 2017

An archery range nestled in the mountains, this archery experience is way better than the traditional Japanese one I had and the archery lessons in the middle of the city.

So, what to do?

Step 1. Reserve a spot online here. If I remember correctly, they only have two slots during the day, with each slot accommodating four people.

Step 2. Go to… Huh. I don’t know. Ok, I’m stopping the tips part, coz I just remembered a friend organized this for us. Basically it took us one hour to get there. I suggest you work your google maps skills.

How much?

I’m a student, and a first time guest. I was charged a JPY2,500 flat rate. My friend was a second user and he was charged JPY500/hour.

 

Everything is done by an old couple – mainly by the husband.
You first get a lesson, then they send you to a course off the forest. Each person gets five arrows – if you lose one, you pay JPY500. This is my only hit that was not even in the board. 😦

 

Chinese Visa

June 21, 2017

Since I’m going to Beijing for an exchange and Filipinos need visa to go almost everywhere, I had to apply for my Chinese visa.

Planning

Accomplish the online form (just google Chinese visa application form, there’s one site applicable to all countries). You’ll have to tick which type of visa. In my case, they refused a tourist visa (which was recommended by Peking University). They (the consular) wanted a short, non business visa. Guess who wins?

Fortunately, the type of visa you selected in your application form can be changed manually, so it’s pretty convenient.

Prepare your requirements:

  • Photocopy of invitation letter
  • Photocopy of resident’s ID

Yup, that’s it.

Consular Office

The Tokyo visa service center is about 15 minutes walk from Toranomon station, Ginza line. Go in the building (it’s in the 8th floor), fall in line at the counter, and they’ll tell you what to do. At this time (July 2017), there’s a Tully’s Coffee at the ground.

It’s like the US visa, they have a quick “interview” then you are told whether the visa will be granted, and told when to go back. Regular processing is around 4 days, and payment is made when claiming the passport. I need to pay JPY9,400 (If i remember correctly).
So after my entire offboarding story when I was in Netherlands transiting in Xiamen, China, I’m now going back, this time armed with an actual visa! 😀