The year abroad adventures of a Scottish otaku in the North of Japan

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The next leg of my New Year trip was across to Jakarta – I was up bright and early (6.30am) in order to get the bus over to Narita airport, nice and quick due to the very sparse New Year traffic. Then my flight at 12.00 to Jakarta. I was fortunate enough to see Mt Fuji on the way out, as well as some of what I assumed was Malaysia, but in that general direction!

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When I landed at Soekarno-Hakatta Aiport, it was night time, humid and about 29 degrees. My only issue getting through the airport was having to wait almost half an hour for my suitcase – my fault for getting to the airport early I guess….I also went out the wrong doors of the airport, so had to double back to find Lizzy (who I was staying with). We took a taxi back into central Jakarta and I got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for at least a year! I also got to make up for the lack of fireworks since I saw loads on the drive. Apparently they have fireworks almost every week!

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On my first real day in Jakarta, we just bummed around – taking the car to be fixed and building a stupidly complex Lego windmill (with a very active 6 year old and 4 year old).

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However, the real adventure started on the next day. We were all booked to go (via a speedboat) to stay on one of the thousand islands for 2 days. It did mean we had to get up at ridiculous o’clock to get the boat over, but that was cancelled out because I was able to sit on the outside, watching all the islands go by. I also got to count the ridiculously high number of flip-flops randomly floating by…..

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This is the name of the island – Tiger Island (although there were 2 cats, the island was sadly lacking in Tigers…)

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The best thing we could do on the island was go snorkelling in the nearby coral reef – there were some wonderful fish (one of which bit my finger), coral and even some sea-urchins! I also saw some of the weirdest coloured crabs – purple and green with really hairy legs….

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This also meant we had some of the freshest fish I’ve ever had, for dinner!

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I did kind of get munched on by mosquitoes (my eye swelled up at one point) but I got a decent amount of relaxing done, got to watch a storm rolling in and watched a beautiful sunset from the beach.

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I also got to meet this guy, who seemed determined to sit in my hair….

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Unfortunately, we had to leave on the afternoon of the second day. This boat trip was a lot worse than the first one – the sea was ridiculously rough (so we were constantly splashed with sea water on the inside) and the air con inside the boat was broken (so it was about 40 degrees in there). I felt horribly seasick so I opted for sitting outside and not throwing up on everyone…I had a layer of salt all over my arms by the end of the trip!

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The day after we got back was Sunday, which meant the main roads were closed for a few hours to cars and all the daft people who wanted to go jogging in 35 degree heat, were able to do so. It also meant there were a lot of bikes about, so the kids took their bikes and we went to the shopping centre.

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The best thing about the shopping centre was the fact that there was an ENORMOUS slide going from the 4th floor to the 1st floor. It wasn’t open when I was there, but only adults could use it and had to wear a crash-helmet!

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In the afternoon, Lizzy, Maggie and I went to have a crème bath – this is where you get some creamy stuff massaged into your hair and then it sits for 30 mins (it smelt like Tiger Balm….). We also got a mani-pedi which was very enjoyable!

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On my last day, we chilled out a bit and in the evening went to a Japanese restaurant. It was hilarious – they tried to do the whole ‘Irasshaimase~’ thing and got the shock of their life when I thanked them at the end in Japanese. I had great fun!!

Sadly, it was soon time to leave (my flight wasn’t until 23.40 so I had loads of time to kill at the airport), so I had to get the taxi to the airport. The airport itself was stupidly stressful: the check-in guy thought my visa was out of date, he charged me airport tax I thought was included in the air fare and then had to go through the stupidly complex security procedure (which they blatantly didn’t give two hoots about). However, I got back eventually…..

So, I finally managed to get this post up…sorry about the lateness! Next time will be the excitement of ice-skating and a whole lot of fire – so until then またね!


My visa came today!! I did a little happy dance that completely confused the postie, but who cares! I have a lovely new page ib my passport!

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Ok, so as promised, I’m gonna post a little about all this lovely paperwork that you need to get into Japan – of course if you’re going for less than 90 days you needn’t bother with any of this, a temporary visa will do! However, if you’re there on a long term basis there are 3 main things you’ll will face on your quest to get a visa.

Certificate or Eligibility

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So when it comes (and the waiting is hellish, let me tell you – 5 to 6 weeks), this is what you’re Certificate of Eligibility and it’s basically the University saying ‘yeah, we’ll vouch for you, it’s on us mate’. That being said, don’t forget that since the University is vouching for you, anything you do is on them! You have been warned! Anyways, you’ll be needing this vital piece of paperwork to get your visa and to get into the country at immigration. My advice? Don’t loose it! You’ll need a photocopy of it for getting your visa, so keep another copy for yourself.

 

Visa Application

This form is gonna seem a bit daunting at first but worry ye not. It’s quite simple to fill in. I’m gonna give you a few tips on the bits that the Japanese Embassy website doesn’t give you many details/help on.

I must note: all the names, addresses, dates, numbers, etc. are made up! None of them are real or meant to cause offense to anyone.

visa example page 1

visa example page 2

1. Don’t forget to put your last name in capital letters.
2. If you do need to fill this in, for whatever reason, I’d advise you bring the deed poll (or whatever legalises your name change) and your birth certificate (or something to prove your original name). I brought mine to the Embassy and didn’t need them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
3. It’s a good idea to put the year in full form, i.e. 1985, not 85
4. The nationality section is a drop down list, so if you are British this will be shown as ‘United Kingdom’ (even though it’s in the ‘B’ section).
5. At the moment, British people don’t have ID numbers (that I know of, I didn’t fill it in and there weren’t any problems).
6. This will be labelled in your passport (in the information section)
7. As a student, this will be the University your are studying at in Japan, since it is unlikely at this point that you will have a fixed address in Japan.
8. Unless you are in full-time work just put student and leave the employment bit blank.
9. This would be whoever you have been in contact with through the University (someone within the International Office). For the address, just put the University again.
10. It’s unlikely you’ll know this, so just leave it blank.
11. Just leave this blank as well since there is no relationship.
12. This is whatever the person refers to them self as (usually on the email they send you).
13. Unless you know otherwise (or it is apparent), just put Japanese National.
14. Tick these honestly, although you are going to have issues if the answer to any of these is ‘Yes’.
15. Leave this blank when you are filling this out on the computer as they prefer the date to be the day you are applying for the visa. This can be crossed out if you have already printed the form, but it’s best to either write it in or type in the future date on which you’re applying for the visa.

Finally, a passport sized photo should be alright for your picture. Just glue it to the top corner (in the handily marked box).

 

Embassy

This bit might also seem a bit daunting, but it’s fine once you get it over with!

If you’re in the North of Englandshire or Scotland, you may want to head for the Edinburgh Japanese Consulate:
http://www.edinburgh.uk.emb-japan.go.jp
2 Melville Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 7HW

Otherwise, you’re heading for the London Embassy:
http://www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp/
101-104 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7JT

Now, what you’re going to need to go and get this pesky visa is:

1. a handy sword
2. a questionable sidekick

….ok, seriously:

1. A passport that doesn’t go out of date at least 6 months after you return.
2. Certificate of Eligibility
3. Colour copy of your Certificate of Eligibility
4. Completed Visa Form
5. Passport photo less than 6 months old (glued to the Visa Form)
6. Visa Fee in cash (£23 for a Single Entry Visa, £43 for a Multiple Entry Visa)*
7. Postage Fee in cash (this is a Special Next Day Delivery so check on the post office website to see what the current fee is)

*With the choice between Single/Multiple Entry Visas – if you know you’re definitely going to leave Japan during your stay, get a Multiple Entry Visa; if you’re not sure, get a Single Entry Visa, then apply for a re-entry permit before you do leave, if you decide to go for an unplanned adventure!

I guess that’s it for now on the visa’s front. If anyone needs a hand, feel free to give me a PM, a comment, or email me: emlawrence@uclan.ac.uk

Next time: Packing lists, or how to pack the kitchen sink


So I finally got my Certificate of Eligibility from the university in Japan (coz that didn’t take ages….). However, getting my CoE means I can, drumroll please (!), go and get my visa – the final piece of this year abroad puzzle. It may also mean that I get a jaunt down to Edinburgh to do some shopping!! I’m being super organised this year – cue a ‘yay me!’ moment – because I’m buying all my family christmas/birthday presents before I go (^^)

So yeah….I shall do another post later (when I have my laptop and not just my phone) about the ins and outs of getting your visa! For now, though, I’ll just sit here in the melting Edinburgh…and post this pic of me in front of the Japanese Consulate (yes I’m wearing a totoro t-shirt and yes I’m posing a peace sign….)

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