How to Get a Japanese Visa via an Awesome Friend

So, I owe someone an explanation, or rather an account of how I acquired a Japanese visa. Actually, I owe him this and a food trip, too, when he comes home.

Short version of the story of my attempt to go to Tokyo. I was lucky enough to score a round-trip ticket to Tokyo about same time last year via CebPac P1 Seat Sale (scored it for around 7k!). First, I wanted to go because of the Tokyo Open (Rafa eventually didn’t participate in the tournament). And second, to experience fall (which was not gonna happen had I push through because the date I picked was way too early for the leaves to actually change colors and fall). I could say it wasn’t really the perfect time for me to go because of several instances. There was a minor accident (I was so thankful, I decided not to push through with my original schedule), a storm in Tokyo (which I was also thankful for, I got a refund!) and the fact that there was a major change happening in my life in the last quarter of 2014 that I couldn’t, for the love of me, squeeze in a major and expensive trip. It was a Failed Fall, you could say.

So there, I wasn’t able to use the visa, which I easily acquired, despite not having a hefty bank account to prove that I can afford to visit Tokyo (that’s the easiest way, I think).

You can check out the Embassy of Japan for the full list of requirements for the different visas available for Filipinos. Visa application is via accredited agencies. I went to Attic Tours for mine because it’s the nearest agency to the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines. It’s in Pasay.

I applied for the visa for visiting friends or distant relatives. Here are the requirements/steps:

1. Have a very awesome friend in Japan. Preferably one with a foreign registration certificate and who is willing to help you out and act as a guarantor. As for me, I am thankful to have a good high school friend [Thank you, Glen!] who went out of his way to prepare and send me the following:

  • Invitation Letter. You can download that from the Japanese Embassy website. It’s in Word document so filling it out is gonna be easy. It will ask for the details of your guarantor/friend, your details and the reason for visit. There is no special answer in the essay part, but I think it pays to be honest and concise.
  • Foreign Registration Certificate from City Hall. It’s like your friend’s identification card in Japan, I think.
  • Guarantee Letter (MIMOTO HOSHOSHO). You can download the Word document from the Japan Embassy website. This will say that your friend will take full responsibility of you during your stay in Japan. It will also bear their seal, which is so cool.
  • Income Certificate from City Hall (SHOTOKU SHOMEISHO), Tax Return Certificate  from Tax Office (NOUZEISHOMEISHO: form2), KAKUTEISHINKOKUSHO HIKAE. Or a Bank Certificate (YOKIN ZANDAKA SHOMEISHO) would do, according to the Japan Embassy website. This is to prove that your friend can afford to have you as a visitor.

Remember that these documents should be valid for 3 months from the date of issue. So I requested Glen to send me these roughly a month before my intended flight. Meanwhile, I prepared the other requirements on my end.

2. Acquire the OC Attitude. Because you will need that to prepare these:

  • Valid Philippine Passport. Get yours from the DFA if you still don’t have one, or if yours is expiring in 6 months, you must renew it.
  • Visa Application Form. Check it out here. You can actually print it from there or save it so you can fill out the PDF format and be sure your answers are readable and there will be no erasures.
  • Photo. It should be 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background. Let the studio know that it’s for a Japanese visa. If you don’t get it right, Attic Tours can take your photo for P200 (I think).
  • Birth Certificate. It should be NSO issued with receipt and valid within (1) year. You can order it online or go to NSO or request via SM Business Center, which I did because it’s more convenient for me since I wasn’t mostly at home during those times to receive it from the courier.
  • Tour Itinerary (TAIZAI NITTEIHYO). There is a sample here in English. It’s in Word form so you can just edit it. As for me, I made a real itinerary. There’s no harm in being honest. Show this to your friend/guarantor (or consult them), too, in case the Japanese Embassy would check with them.
  • Documents or photos to prove relationship. Good thing we took photos during meet-ups. Hehe
  • ITR and Employment Certificate. It’s not really part of the requirements, but I submitted these anyway, to prove that I am employed and I am returning back to the Philippines and does not intend to marry some Japanese and never return. hehe

That’s it! Bring all these to your agency of choice. Here are your choices. While the Japanese visa, when granted, is free, you have to pay the agency a processing fee. I paid P1500 (+ 12% tax) to Attic Tours. I submitted the application on a Thursday and got a message from them the following Tuesday saying my passport is ready for pick-up. Very quick! They won’t tell you if your application is approved or not. You have to feel the anticipation, you know! It’s part of the experience.

Oh, by the way, all the requirements won’t be returned to you, except for the photos. I don’t think they want to keep them. Why would they? Hehe

There you go. I was warned that I may have a hard time getting another visa (I am not yet giving up on you, Tokyo!) since I wasn’t able to use the visa they first gave me, but I am trusting the Universe that all will be fine when it’s really my perfect time to visit the Land of the Rising Sun and Murakami. 🙂

It’s the Clay Court Season

So the clay court season, Rafa’s obvious favorite, has begun! And I’m loving the blue-gray ensemble he’s rocking on the ubiquitous orange clay. [Thank you, Rafael Nadal Fans, for this picture.]

I’ve been a fan since 2004, I think, when he was still rocking that unconventional long shorts (a capri!) and short sleeves ensemble. And that makes it more than a decade of fangirling! Wow. If it’s a relationship, we’d hit a really great milestone.

And so to kick off this Clay Court season, I’m sharing this article from FTW, USA Today that details why Rafael Nadal is the King of Clay.

7 reasons Rafael Nadal on clay is the most dominant athlete in the world

Weddings and Beyond

Weddings, Etc.
So I am helping this friend of mine from high school with her wedding. Since it’s the track I am going, I gladly took the part of being her sort of coordinator and carry out FOB (friend of the Bride) Duties.
The wedding is in June and we’ve pretty much covered most of the major items on the list, I would like to think. I tagged along on her first gown fitting, met with most of their suppliers, handcrafted their wedding cord and just today we went to a food tasting and met with their photographer/videographer to discuss their e-session that is set a couple of weeks from now. I am so excited to work on their table numbers and escort cards!
I am enjoying this ride I am in so far. I’ve always love doing events, and I look forward to doing this for a living soon. So grateful she let me help out, really.

Hellish Week(s)
Last week was an official bummer. The level of stress at work was just so high from Day 1 to 4. I had to call in sick on Day 5 just so I could breathe. We used to call that kind of week a “hell week” in college. It’s the week (or weeks) before a semester ends. Hell weeks back then were more tolerable. I just had to meet deadlines, submit projects and pass exams. In the office, it sucks. It seems it doesn’t end. And I’m pretty sure this carries on and on. Ugh.
But then at school I wasn’t paid. Oh, well…

Sulking Soiree
Okay, Self. Let’s not blame it all on work. Let’s come out clean.
Yes, I was sulking the whole week over a nonsense, really. Alam mo ‘yung sulking na wala naman talagang valid na dahilan? That kind of foolishness. It’s a real nonsense, I don’t feel like sharing it to the world. Let me just say I was expecting something from someone without a real basis that that something should be done by that someone, in the first place.
It’s a twisted mind, I know.
The good thing is, I am over it. And realizing it’s a nonsense is the strongest indication I am over it. Pat on the back, Self!

Rafael Nelson Aboganda, the Filipino Architect
Hoax po s’ya. Hindi po s’ya totoo. Huwag paniwalaan ang lahat sa Internet. Huwag magsi-share ng impormasyon agad-agadGinogoyo lang po kayo ni Michael Lacanilao, na malamang ay may lahing Pinoy. S’ya po ang purihin natin sa kanyang husay sa paggawa ng modern myth.
Again, Google is your best friend.

“Life is a Like Cup of Coffee”
It is very rare that I enjoy hearing sermons during Mass. There’s just something about how most priests deliver their homily that doesn’t sit right. Some are too preachy and some are borderline sarcastic. Most of the time, during homilies, my mind would wander, really.
But not when this particular priest in the Lourdes Church where I strive to regularly go to now is the one delivering it. He had me at his visual aid the first time I attended a Mass officiated by him. He shows inspiring videos and clips during his homily. And his stories are the kind that just stick with me.
He is from India, I confirmed just now. I just Googled him and got his full name, Fr. Sanjay Joe Ignatius. And he took up Information Technology. That explains the visual aids!
He really preaches good sermons, or should I say, valuable and inspiring lessons.  They don’t really sound too imposing like most of the sermons I hear. Plus he gives this sort of reflection bit before communion, wherein he asks the congregation to close their eyes as he says a prayer of sort. It’s more like a meditation. I always look forward it.
One Sunday, a different priest officiated the Mass during his slot (is that what it’s called?). And, boy, was I sad and disappointed. I almost didn’t want to go Mass the following Sunday afraid that he transferred to another Church. So, I felt my heart leaped when I saw him, and I whispered a silent, Yay! That is how good he is.
This Sunday he shared a video of a very inspiring story of how come Life is like a cup of coffee. Click that link to read it and perhaps learn the very apt lesson I got to learn this morning, too. It’s very apt that it ended my sulking soiree. Hehe