Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fukuoka, Japan Visa Run


How to get there and what you will need:
First off, Japan is freaking expensive. Exchange won at your bank before you depart and get at least $100 for each day. Lunch will run you $15 and dinner will cost you $40. If you go out on a night on the town, forget about it...at least $100 right there.
Secondly, you'll find lots of ESL sites with bad directions to the Korean Consulate and equally bad directions to the hostels in the area. You can spot bad directions because they always include the following:
  • Walk 5-10 minutes (Sorry, this is not a measurement of distance)
  • They will use landmarks that are found everywhere, including the wrong direction. (The hostel I stayed at had directions that said to turn left at the second Lawsons convenience store. There is literally a Lawsons in every directon in Fukuoka. They might as well said turn at the tree.)
  • They will tell you to walk out of the subway, never mentioning which direction to walk.
My favorite bad direction moment in Fukuoka was when the Korean Consulate directions said to walk straight and when you get to the river you will know you have gone to far. These directions were only helpful in getting to the river, which was way out of the way. It would have been better to mention, make the right at the first major intersection and you'll see a B&W on the right. Take that street to the end. So here are decent directions to the Korean Consulate:
  • Take Tojinmachi, Exit 1
  • Walk STRAIGHT out to the first major intersection. 
  • Make a right down that street and you'll see a B&W dealership on the right hand side if you turned on the correct street. 
  • Take it all the way to the end and you will see the consulate on the left, a shopping center on the right and a dome in the middle. There's a gas station on the left right before you cross the street to the consulate.
Address: 1-1-3 Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan, 810-0065
Phone Number: 81-(0)92-771-0461/3
Service Hours: 9:00-12:00, 13:30-17:00 (Mon-Fri) Closed weekends 

You must get to the Consulate in the morning in order to get your visa the next afternoon. There is no same day service so make sure the school gets you to Japan in the morning or plan to stay there for three days.

What you will need:
- Your passport with remaining validity of at least one year
- Visa issuance document
- A completed Visa application form
- One passport-size photo
- The visa fee of 4,600 Yen (approximately 50,000 KRW)

You'll have a few options of lodging in Fukuoka. Japan is super expensive and all you need is a clean place to sleep. Consider booking a hostel in advance via agoda.com or hostelworld.com. I stayed at three hostels while I was there, mainly because I got stuck there one extra day.

Where to stay:

Kaine Guesthouse is a truly Japanese experience worthy of seasoned, adventure travellers. The rooms are up a rickety staircase and tucked behind a ramen shop. The noodle restaurant serves as the common area to meet fellow travellers. The food is the most delicious, affordable Japanese noodles. The prices are inexpensive and I recommend the whiskey soda for about four bucks. It is a good pour and it gets you where you need to be. The bed is nothing more than a fold out futon on the floor but the d├ęcor and vide of this place makes it delightful. I slept like a baby here but just know you aren't going to get a Western style bed. 
 The restaurant is a separate business from the hostel, which I like since I sometimes forget how much I drink ;)



Save money and stick with whiskey and soda in Japan



I stayed here one night and all it really has going for it is the location. And it's location is awesome. Robby, the Indian owner, is super nice and helpful but I'm just not in the stage on life to need to be that close to the night life. The rooms don't get enough air because it is located on the shopping strip leading to the canalside shopping area. If you need to be super close to shopping and night life, this place is a great value. The rooms and bathroom are clean. However, the lack of great common area to meet travellers and the age of the building might make this one of your last options. 


This hostel's only downside is that it is a bit of a distance from the subway stop but the walk is doable.
The owners and staff go out of their way to make you feel at home. The beds and pillows are super comfortable. The rooms had a lockable cabinet but I didn't bother. The showers are hot and clean, and really they think of all the little things that most places skimp on. The common area is awesome and includes a big flat screen, and a comfortable couch and chairs. There are multiple computers and a common kitchen that is great for socializing. This place knows that the hostel experience is all about meeting fellow travellers from all over the world. I had a a special treat from the nice Japanese host who gave us a free cooking lesson and meal. We made rice sandwiches you'll see all over Asia and some miso soup.

Things to see: 
Maizuru Park is free to visit and has nice gardens and castle ruins.

 
This gate is really old and there wasn't much to it. More impressive sights are on the north side of the park.



  
 

To get to Maizuru Park take the subway to Ohori Koen Station, go out exit 5.
It is a nice nature filled spot with beautiful cherry blossoms and abundance of turtles in the water.  
This was the first time I realized Japan was more than an overpriced shopping mall. 
Locals recommend taking a bus to nearby Daizaifu to visit Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine and Kyushu National Museum.
It rained most of my visit to Fukuoka so I never made it to Daizaifu but apparently those two sights are the things to see if you are in Fukuoka for only a short time.

 

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