What Not To Miss On Your Trip to Japan and Japan Visa Policies You Need to Know

29 May, 2021

Spectacular scenery, unique culture, wild entertainment, fascinating history, pristine beaches… Japan really has it all! It’s a country steeped in tradition yet extremely modern at the same time, and this is what makes it so special. With 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites and every latest trend you can imagine, there is so much to see and do in Japan that it should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Before you pack your bags and book the next flight out, you should check if you require a visa to visit, but don’t worry – we have your back! In this article, we have put together everything you need to know about Japan’s visa policies, its brand new e-visa system (which is explained in Byevisa’s Japan page), as well as some of the top activities and places not to be missed on your trip. Let’s dive in!

What Not to Miss on Your Trip to Japan

Now that we have sorted all the visa concerns, you are ready to travel! Here are some of the best things to do in Japan to get you excited for your trip: 


  • Learn about traditional culture in Kyoto


Find out all about what it means to be a geisha, experience the ritual of a tea ceremony and walk the cobbled streets of the old district for a glimpse into the city’s past.

kyoto Image credit: https://flickr.com/photos/marcveraart/


  • Have your senses bombarded in Tokyo


Visit the world-famous fish market and feast on the freshest sushi in the world and make sure you spend plenty of time just taking in all the lights, signs, entertainment, fashion and unusual things that pop up on the streets of Tokyo.


  • Visit the famous hot springs 


The island is full of natural hot springs in the mountains so you will be spoiled for choice. If you want to take a selfie with the famous snow monkeys that bathe in the hot springs, then head to Jigokudani Park.


  • Ride the bullet train


Take a bullet train between some of the major cities to experience this feat of modern transportation, traveling up to 300 km/h (the speed is shown on a dial in each cart).


  • Visit a traditional village


Nestled in the mountains in a lush green valley, the village of Shirakawago is incredibly picturesque with its traditional thatched-roofed houses. It’s a welcome break from the big cities and a chance to experience rural life in Japan.


  • Sample exciting cuisine


Remember there’s not just sushi in Japan, although it’s certainly a must! Make sure you try some of the endless delicious and unusual dishes Japan has to offer like okonomiyaki (savory pancake) or takoyaki (octopus balls).


  • Visit some temples and shrines


There are around 80,000 temples and 100,000 shrines in Japan, so you will find them everywhere you go. The Fushimi Inari shrine with 1,000 red gates is an impressive sight, just like the shiny Golden Temple emerging from the lake surrounded by nature. 


  • Get friendly with deer in Nara Park


Nara Park expands over 500 hectares with several historic sites and temples scattered around it, but it’s mostly known for its friendly deer. Buy some deer crackers and make some furry friends, but watch out as they can be feisty. 

nara park deerImage credit: https://flickr.com/photos/21822583@N08/


  • Go to a karaoke bar


Experience how the locals let off some steam in the big city. Japan is the birthplace of karaoke and there are as many karaoke establishments around as there are shrines in the country.


  • Explore the natural beauty of Hokkaido


The island of Hokkaido is packed with stunning natural landscapes, including the country’s largest national park. With dramatic waterfalls, mountains and volcanoes, it’s the perfect place to spend some time in nature and explore Japan’s wild side. 

hokkaido waterfallImage credit: https://flickr.com/photos/122967015@N07/

So with this in mind, you should now both have a clear idea of how to apply for your Japanese visa to enter this amazing country, plus some inspiration for what to see and do. Whether you can’t wait to check out bustling Tokyo, Osaka’s famed castle or you’re eager to try the exquisite cuisine, you’re sure to have a wonderful trip!

About the Visa-Exempt Nationalities for Japan

Currently, there are over 60 countries that enjoy visa-free access to Japan including Singapore, Australia, UK and the USA. While most visa-free nationalities are granted 90 days in Japan, you should be aware that some have less. For instance, citizens of Thailand and Indonesia are granted 15 days, while the UAE has 30 days. Also, before you travel, make sure your passport is valid for the duration of the trip and that you have onward flights booked.

Here’s the full list of the visa-exempt countries:

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador

Hong Kong

New Zealand
North Macedonia
Republic of Korea
San Marino
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

Guide to the Upcoming e-Visa (Electronic Visa)

This shiny new e-visa system was introduced in April 2020 to encourage more visitors in and around the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the electronic visa processing system has been temporarily suspended, but it is expected to resume shortly.

The new system allows you to apply online in a few simple steps and receive the visa via email, making the whole process much easier.  Online visa service Byevisa have set up their own page to help you get your electronic visa for Japan. The whole process is done online (so no more long embassy queues, hurray!) and once you receive the visa in your inbox, simply print it and take it with you when you travel.

Although a full list of eligible countries has not been announced yet, we know that Chinese nationals will be the first who will be able to apply for the e-visa, since they make up around 60% of the visitors to Japan. We can also expect other countries that currently require an embassy visa, such as India, Sri Lanka and South Africa, to have access to the e-visa system in the near future.

Moreover, some countries that have been exempt from getting a visa until recently, may join the e-visa system as well, including the USA and Indonesia. So please stay tuned for the latest updates on the e-visa eligibility before you set off.

How to Get a Tourist Visa at the Embassy

If you don’t have a passport from one of the countries listed above, you will need to get a visa from an embassy before you travel. These visas allow you to stay in Japan for up to 30 days, and they are valid for 90 days starting from the issuing date. To get the visa, you will need to make an appointment and go to the embassy in person with all the supporting documents, so make sure you book this well in advance, as it could take some time.

Here’s what to bring to the visa appointment:

  • A completed application form
  • A passport size photo
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • Onward travel confirmation
  • An itinerary with hotel bookings
  • Submitted tax returns
  • A financial statement covering the past 6 months to prove you have funds to cover the trip

Also, don’t forget to check that your passport has a minimum of 2 blank pages and is valid for at least 6 months from your return date before you book your visa appointment. Otherwise, you will need to renew your passport first in order to be granted a visa for Japan.

As I mentioned above, it is likely that the new e-visa system will be extended to many more countries, making traveling to Japan easier than ever. So make sure you check regularly for the latest e-visa news and eligible countries.

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

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