Sunday, May 29, 2011
Passport pirouette: Getting back into Japan
A lot of the finer points of travel escape your memory when you're looking back on the great times you had, and it wasn't until I was browsing my passport again that I remembered how complicated it was when I wanted to take an overseas holiday away from Japan, during the two years I lived there.
Getting the visa to live in Japan was relatively straightforward, because I worked for an enormous English language school that organised the visas for us, more or less. But to leave Japan on holidays and return required a re-entry permit. They weren't cheap, and you could get a multiple re-entry permit which was cheaper if you knew you'd be leaving the country a couple of times or more within the life of your visa (mine was renewed annually), but all of this meant I had several long stints down at an immigration office standing in line to get stamps in my passport. So some of the mess of those two passport pages above is all about that - the simple act of going on a short overseas holiday.
What would I have done without the help of my more experienced ex-pat colleagues? Filling out forms covered in Japanese characters was way beyond my beginner's ability. Even finding the immigration office was a challenge (remind me to tell you about the crazy address non-system used in Japan!). But of course, the reward for successfully negotiating this passport paperwork was that I got to travel - to South Korea, to Taiwan, to Canada, among others. Well worth a bit of hassle, I have to say!