Warning: I rant a lot in this entry.
When I started writing this, I had never traveled out of the country. Heck, I’d never even flown domestically. My mom was then the only person in my family who has left the Philippines (for a temporary stay in Australia). My dad, when asked why he never travels, says he’s just not interested.
I, on the other hand, do want to travel and would love to do it more, if it weren’t so expensive. This year, however, I was finally able to travel to another country—the dream country, Japan. As mentioned in my post about marriage license application, my husband is a Japanese national, so I assumed that if I were to get a visa, I’d be applying for a spouse visa. However, because we only got married and also submitted our marriage registration to the embassy recently, Aki was advised by someone in the embassy to have me apply for a tourist visa as our marriage has not been registered in Japan yet.
My application for the visa itself was quick. What was stressful was finding the exact information I needed on whether I should apply for a tourist visa or a spouse visa. Since Aki was told that I should get a tourist visa, I started securing the documents in this list from the Japanese Embassy website, which weren’t part of this list of requirements for the application of a visa for the spouse of a Japanese national living in the Philippines, namely a taizai yoteihyo (daily itinerary), bank certificate, and ITR. I thought my chances of getting approved would be higher if I were to have my husband as a guarantor, but I wasn’t sure how that works, so I called the embassy to ask.
This is where things got frustrating. The Japanese are well-known for their politeness. I taught English to Japanese learners online for several years and I rarely encountered students who were rude. Majority were polite and pleasant, and some were incredibly kind and thus were a joy to speak with. Because of this, I assumed that if I were to call the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, I could expect the same level of courtesy, no matter if I spoke with a Japanese or Filipino employee.
Boy, was I wrong. The two people I talked to on separate occasions were discourteous and gave me such a hard time figuring out exactly what I needed to do. They cut me off and talked over me, and the first woman I talked to even asked, “Well, if your husband is not in Japan, why would you use a guarantee letter in Japanese? That doesn’t make sense.”
Well, I don’t know, girl. Maybe because not living in Japan doesn’t make my husband non-Japanese?! The audacity!
Anyway, after telling my husband what went on in my conversations with the embassy’s staff, he suggested I give Friendship Tours a call. This wasn’t a very good experience either. The lady who picked up couldn’t answer some of my questions so she had to keep asking other employees, but did not bother putting the call on hold, so I heard pretty much everything they were saying. They said I should apply for a spouse visa, but I wanted to be very sure, so I told the lady that my husband was advised by someone in the embassy to have me apply for a tourist visa while the marriage was in the process of being registered in Japan. When she told the man she was asking her questions to what I said, I heard him say, “E bakit pa siya tumawag dito, nagtanong na pala siya sa embassy! Sana di na sya tumawag!” Needless to say, we didn’t go to Friendship for my visa.
Instead, I decided to go to Reli Tours & Travel in Dusit Thani Makati. My husband and I went there early (on a Saturday) to avoid queues, after seeing how crowded their SM Megamall branch was. I ultimately applied for a spouse visa after finally getting hold of someone at the embassy who wasn’t rude and was advised to apply for a spouse visa with a letter from my husband explaining that our marriage is still in the process of being registered in Japan.
It was apparently that simple. JFC. 🤦♀️
Anyway, here’s the official list of requirements for the visa I applied for, i.e. the Visa for Spouse or Child of a Japanese National Living in the Philippines (Temporary Visit), which permits one to visit Japan (single entry) and stay there for no more than 6 months within 1 year.
Since we already had tickets prior to applying for a visa (a wedding present from my dad), I included our travel dates in my explanation letter, along with a summary of our planned activities. Our trip was only a week long, thus I was only given a maximum of 15 days to stay in Japan and the visa was valid for three months only. We paid a 1,200 PHP handling fee and were told the process would take around 7 working days.
Well, it didn’t take that long. Five calendar days later, on my husband’s birthday, I received a text message from the agency informing me that my visa is available for pick up. Luckily, I was already in a bus to Makati for a work related errand when I got the text! And no, they won’t tell you the outcome; you only find out when you get your passport back.
Oh, the anxiety. I hurriedly got off at the intersection of Ayala Avenue and EDSA, thinking I could cross and walk to the hotel, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There was no pedestrian lane in that junction; I only thought there was one because I see people jaywalk there all the freaking time. In the end, I had to turn right at Ayala—the same route the bus I was in took, goddammit—and scamper to Dusit in a heightened state of dread, which made me feel nauseated. I expected the worst, but at the same time I thought I wouldn’t know how to deal with the rejection. As soon as I got to Reli Tours, I handed them one of my government IDs, forgetting they gave me a receipt. 🤦♀️
My application was approved! 🎉🍻🎊 I ran to the bathroom right next to the agency, locked myself in a stall, and bawled. Hahahaha. I immediately shared the good news with my husband, and then with my dad. And then I told my mom. And then my best friends. 😂
And here ends the story of my Japan visa application. Up next: our trip!
P.S. While our experience at Reli Tours wasn’t particularly exceptional, it wasn’t unpleasant either, so I think I’d still go there the next time I apply for a visa.
Reli Tours & Travel
Address: 3rd Floor Dusit Thani Hotel, Ayala Commercial Center, Makati City
Phone Numbers: (02) 894 1210, (02) 893 7259, (02) 893 9226
Office Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8:30AM to 5:30PM (visa application cutoff: 4:30PM)