Monday, February 25, 2019

How to Get a Tourist Visa for Japan in the US

Japan Visa
Philippine passport holders get a 15-day tourist visa in Japan, US passport holders get 90 days.

We write…

The upcoming spring makes us think of the Japanese song about sakura that depicts cherry blossoms “in fields, mountains, and villages as far as the eye can see.” We could only imagine that the composer wrote this song between March and May when these blossoms, considered to be one of Japan’s national flowers, are in full bloom.

When you hear the cherry blossoms a’calling and you are wont to wandering, you can apply for a visa in any of the 18 Japanese embassies in the US. While the Philippines is not among the 68 countries with visa exemption arrangements with Japan, a Philippine passport means an exemption from visa fee, which amounts to $27 for single entry and $55 for multiple entry.
 A US green card does not necessarily make tourist visa applications simpler for permanent resident Filipino nationals or other legal residents for that matter. Any green card holder whose country of origin is not among the 68 countries with reciprocal visa exemption arrangements with Japan actually needs to meet the same requirements.

Based on the table of summary we wrote below, we can’t conclude that Japan tourist visa application in the US any easier than in one’s home country. For example, applicants in the US must present their hotel and plane reservations, which is not a requirement in the Philippines. Meanwhile, applicants in the Philippines need to submit original Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) documents as well as their latest income tax return, which is not needed when applying in the US.  

Japan Visa Requirements for Philippine Passport Holders
When applying in the USA
When applying in the Philippines
Embassy accepts direct applications
No visa fee
Valid Passport with at least 1 blank visa page
Valid Passport with at least 2 blank visa pages
Completed Visa Application Form
Completed Visa Application Form
2”x2” photo taken in the last six months w/ plain background
1.8”x1.8” photo taken in the last six months with white background and applicant’s name and date of birth written at the back
Daily activity plan in Japan
Daily schedule in Japan
Most recent bank statement issued by a US bank under applicant’s name and address
If applicant is paying for part/all of travel expenses:
  • Original bank certificate issued within the last 3 months
  • Photocopy of latest income tax return
  • If Philippine resident guarantor is paying part/all of travel expenses:
  • Guarantee letter
  • Proof of relationship w/ applicant
  • Original bank certificate and photocopy of income tax return of guarantor
Proof of immigration status
Not applicable
Flight reservation
Not needed
Hotel reservation
Not needed
If not claiming passport in person:
  • Pre-paid self-addressed return envelope along with completed release of liability
Not applicable
If visiting another country after Japan and a visa is required:
  • Visa for the third country
Not applicable
Not applicable
Original PSA birth certificate issued within a year
Not applicable
If married:
  • Original PSA marriage certificate issued within a year
Requirements are the same for all applicants based in the US but Philippine passport holders do not need to pay visa fee.

Regardless of the list of essential documents, don’t let these stop you from visiting Japan. We have thoroughly enjoyed our trip as tourists and as two individuals who are big fans of the Japanese concepts of quality such as kaizen and kanban. Read on for tips on how we processed Kira’s tourist visa application.

No appointment needed

We were not required to book an appointment ahead of time but we checked the hours. We arrived at the consulate around 9:30 a.m. and there was no line and the wait time and processing time only took around 30 minutes.

We would still encourage you though to call the
If you can't go to Japan between March and May,
there are several places in the US where you can find
cherry blossoms, such as the Japanese Garden in Van
Nuys, Los Angeles. 
Japanese consulate in your area to inquire if you need an appointment, because the protocol may be different. Additionally, like many official government offices, the Japan consulate adheres to the usual US holidays.

We went to the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles, where parking during weekday business hours is not only difficult, but also expensive. Public transportation is always ideal in these cases, and fortunately the consulate is conveniently located near the Pershing Square station.

Type out application to minimize errors

The two-page visa application form is a dynamic pdf so take advantage of this feature by typing out your answers so that there are no issues with legibility. We filled in all the blanks and indicated “not applicable” or “none” when suitable. When you print your application form, do not forget to sign it.

Be organized

Ray, who is usually in charge of most of our paperwork, went all out in creating our application packet. Taking his own obsessive-crazy methods from our US visa application, he made a table of contents and organized and labeled everything based on the order of requirements on the Japanese Embassy website.

He went the extra mile of binding the documents, which turned out to be unnecessary because the consulate officer preferred loose pages so that she can go through the paperwork with ease. She was impressed with how the documents were organized for sure (I think we humored her) but don’t staple or bind the documents.

Be consistent

The consulate officer was very detail-oriented so make sure your answers are consistent. While our city address is usually acceptable as both Northridge or Porter Ranch, she directed us to use the address from the prepaid self-addressed stamped envelope from the post office for consistency.

Purchase priority mail stamp from the USPS teller

We used a prepaid Priority Mail-stamped envelope for the return of Kira’s processed passport. Shortly after, Ray learned that purchasing a “future date” Priority Mail stamp from a USPS teller was the correct method of purchase because the automated kiosks only issue stamps for the current date, which can create an issue and delay if the USPS catches that the stamp date is significantly in the past from the actual mailing date from the Embassy. If you’re pressed for time in getting the visa in your passport, even a minor detail like this can cause headaches.


Instead of paying for your hotel reservations in full, you can make a deposit if you need to leave some room on your credit card. The consulate will still recognize this as a reservation.

Once you’ve made up your mind to catch the cherry blossoms in Japan this year, you can start processing your application now. Your visa will be valid for the next three months, just in time to see and smell the fragrant blooms. #

Relates Entries:
Travel Guide for Green Card Holders


  1. How about those people from US do it have same process? or requirements?

  2. I am from Philippines does that guide will be the same. Japan is one of my bucket list and really want to go there. I have been reading this hope it will also be useful