Saturday, August 25, 2007

Visa Run to Fukuoka

Living in Korea and needing to go on a "Visa Run."
The process is relatively straight forward. You have to get yourself to Japan. An easy place to go to is Fukuoka, a smallish coastal city which is the closest location to Korea. You can get there one of two ways: ferry boat from Pusan (approx: 200,000 won round-trip) or by Air (approx. 400-450,00o including all the taxes, round-trip from Incheon).

In the past if you had arrived at the consulate before lunch they would process your visa by 3 in the afternoon. However now it can be picked up on the following day at 10 am.

You need:
your passport
Your employers certificate of job offer
5400 yen processing fee
A single passport sized photo
The completed application form (gotten from the desk in the consulate)
An address and phone number in Korea

The Subway costs anywhere from 200 to 5-6 hundred yen depending how far you go. The underground area near Tenjin (3 stops from the Tojinmachi) is very nice. It has a lot of shops and restaurants in the case that weather drives you for cover. Taking exit #11 at the Tenjin subway stop and going to floor "b-1" will take you to a currency exchange office of a bank, in case you are funning out of funds. Also, if you go to the "Media Mall" there is an internet bar at the b-1 level. Internet Bars/Cafes are hard to to locate here. There seem to be none anywhere near Tojinmachi.

The address and phone number is required for the form as well as the entrance slip you fill out when you come to the embassy gate. Be aware, the guard is Japanese, not Korean. Speaking Korean to him seems to annoy him.

You will land in the International Terminal in Fukuoka. You must take the shuttle bus (Bus No. 1 picked up right outside the terminal) to the Domestic Terminal. The subway can be gotten at the Domestic Terminal.

You can buy a subway ticket from one of the machines. The machines take 1000 yen bills (the smallest Japanese bill). The subway from the airport to Tojinmachi Subway (see a pdf of the subway map, requires acrobat reader) stop (where the consulate is) will run you 490 yen as of 8/2007. The trip won't take more than 20 or 30 minutes.

Once arriving at the subway station go all the way down to "exit 1/2." Exit 1 exits on the right side of the street and exit 2 exits on the left side of the street.

On the right is a sign. Turn right at the next intersection going toward Seaside Momochi.

When you come out of the subway keep walking directly in the same direction. On the left side of the street about 150 steps is the Haiwadei Hotel. It runs 6,000 yen for a night. The Haiwadei is less than 15 minutes walk from the Korean Consulate. As you continue down the street you will see a traffic sign for the first coming intersection.

At that intersection turn right. Eventually you will want to be on the left side of the street. You will come to the next big intersectionn. At that corner you will see a Shell Gas Station. The Korean Consulate in Fukuoka is directly across the street. If you get there during lunch time the gates will be close and you will have to come after lunch. The day I went only the side gate was open, while the main gate was closed. Be sure to check both.

In the picture above you can see the Korean consulate on the left, behind it the JAL Seaside Resort and to the right, the Yahoo! Dome.
The second picture is from inside the consulate.

Once you've dropped off your paperwork you need to burn some time. Just down about 5 minutes from the JAL Resort Building is a free public beach. You can go for a swim or go buy a drink and lounge on a deck in the shade.

Get your bearings. Looking at the consulate, behind it you can see the JAL Seaside Resort Tower. To the right you can see the Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome (home of the Fukuoka Hawks).

You can go to a baseball game if one is scheduled. A game in the cheap seats will run you 1000 yen. Games are usually, but not always, scheduled in the evenings (Fukuoka Hawks Schedule).

Just across the street from the consulate you will see a building called Wonderland. There are some lockers that you can rent to get ride of things you are carrying around. They have many restaurants near their including a Hard Rock Cafe and a McDonald's.

This is just some information. Look for it to be updated.

A good website to find out about events in Fukuoka is Fukuoka Now
who publishes a monthly events magazine in English and maintains their website.

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