I did a visa run to Japan last week, and wanted to write a “How to” post before I forgot all the details. The following is very detailed with lots of pictures – probably not interesting for those outside of Korea.
Almost all English teachers have to do a visa run some point during their stay here. Last week was my fourth visa run to Japan (once to Osaka and three times to Fukuoka). Fukuoka seems to be a popular city for a visa run because it’s usually the cheapest, especially if you take the ferry. Since my school didn’t pay for my trip, this was the route I took.
First of all, I booked a round trip ferry ticket from Pusan to Fukuoka through Kangsan Travel. Email them, or better yet, call them at +82 (051) 747-0031. Ask for Alice because she speaks English and can book you a ticket immediately. Obviously, book as early as you can because it’s pretty busy on the weekends. It cost me 190,000 won ($202 USD) for a round-trip ticket. Kangsan Travel can also include a one night stay at a hotel (usually Central Hotel) for 230,00~240,000 (depending on availability and day). I was going over a weekend, so all their partner hotels were full, so I opted just for the ticket.
This is their policy on canceling tickets:
*CANCEL/CHANGING DATE CHARGE
3DAYS BEFORE DEPARTURE : 30 % PENALTY
AFTER DEPARTURE : 50% PENALTY
You can’t cancel your schedule 3 days in advance of your departure day.
207-Ho, A-Dong, Sejong World Plaza B/D, 1479-3
Jwa-Dong, Haeundae-Gu, Busan, Korea
(Jangsan Subway Station, line #2, stop #201, exit #3)
Upon arriving at the Pusan Ferry Terminal, take the escalator upstairs, confirm your ticket at “Kobee” and they’ll assign you a seat. There will be an additional 11,600 won ferry tax that needs to be paid before you can get your seat assignment. (Click on any of the pictures for a larger version on my Flickr account.)
If you’ll be arriving in Japan after 2:00 pm, make sure you exchange money at the port in Pusan because the money exchange office in the Fukuoka terminal closes at 2:00 pm. They open every day from 7:30 am – 2:00 pm. So, if you need to exchange money on a Sunday in Fukuoka, take a bus back to the ferry terminal and do it there. I did. By the way, the exchange rate in Japan is not THAT much different than in Korea. Save yourself the hassle and just do it all in Korea.
(left: leaving Pusan port. right: the “Beetle”)
Upon arriving in Japan, exchange money at Shinhan Bank, if you haven’t done so already. Before you leave, pick up a map from Tourist Information. If you didn’t book a hotel beforehand, ask the woman there to make calls for you. They’re VERY helpful.
Once you leave the ferry terminal, look to your left and you’ll see the bus stop that leaves for Tenjin and Hakata Station.
The fare is 180 yen to Tenjin. Take bus 55, 61, 151, 152, or 80. The fare to Hakata Station is 220 yen. Take bus 11, 19, or 50. Wherever you end up, remember that the last stop on bus 80′s route is the Fukuoka Ferry Terminal. Before you go anywhere, you’ll need to know a little about the bus system in Japan.
Everyone enters the bus in the middle. For those with a pre-paid card, they’ll insert it in the gray box. Pre-paid cards can be purchased from the bus driver (when the bus isn’t moving). If you’re using change, take a ticket from the orange box. It’ll have a number on it. At the front of the bus, above the driver, is an electronic board with numbers. For example, if your ticket stub says “3,” look at the board for the number 3. At any time, it will display the cost of your fare. When you’re ready to get off, exit and pay at the front with exact change. There’s a change machine at the front of the bus. If you STILL don’t have exact change… well, you’re SOL.
The rest of the directions are to the Korean consulate. Get on a bus for Tenjin (180 yen). It’ll take about 15 minutes to get there. You know you’re close when you pass over a canal. Plus, once at Tenjin, the bus will make an announcement in Japanese, English, and Korean. When you step off the bus, you’ll be in the north end of Tenjin. The following is a poor quality map, but I think it’ll help get your bearings.
The blue car is supposed to represent the bus. The red dots are bus stops. The bus stop on the right is where you’ll get off. The picture below is the bus stop, and across the street, you’ll see a Family Mart and McDonald’s. The stop is roughly in front of Shopper’s Specialty Store. (As a side note, that store has a great grocery store in the basement.)
Cross the street to the bus stop directly across the street. The buses on the other side go towards the Korean consulate. On that side, bus # 44, 151, 152, 200, 201, 204, and 305 go to the Korean consulate. The closest landmark is the Fukuoka Dome, so you can just ask somebody, “Fukuoka Dome-mae?” just to make sure. This should be another 15 minute ride and 220 yen. Five minutes into the ride, you’ll go over this bridge:
Once off this bridge, you’ll be about 5-7 minutes from the consulate. On the right-hand side, you’ll pass 5 beige and blue apartment complexes, a store called “Gourmet City,” and 6 more brown apartment complexes labeled A-F on the side. Immediately after this, you’ll see a canal, in which case you should ring the bell. The next stop after the canal is where you’ll get off. Listen for “Yahoo Dome.”
Once you step off the bus, you’ll see this shopping center across the street:
And this in front of you:
Walk straight ahead until you reach the intersection. It’ll be pretty obvious from there. Which building looks out of place?
The rest is up to you – I’ve held your hand this far. Bring ONE photo, passport, visa issuance number (HSBO 07000XXX), and 5,400 yen in CASH. There’s a passport photo machine inside the consulate that costs 600 yen ($5 USD) for 4 or 6 photos. There’s also a copy machine there. There are lockers across the street in the shopping mall, next to Nike.
To get back, go to the bus stop directly across the street from where you got dropped off. Remember, bus #80 goes back to the ferry terminal, but you’ll have to go back to Tenjin first and transfer.
Please leave a comment if you have any additional advice or if any information is incorrect.
In the next week or two, I’ll have a review of places to stay in Fukuoka, including: a Siesta Capsule Hotel (3900 yen), SB Hotel (4725 yen), and Khaosan Fukuoka Hostel (2000 yen for a dorm bed).