Today I went to the closest immigration office, which is located in the nearby city of Chiba, to apply for and receive a re-entry permit so that I can leave Japan on vacation. This is extremely important because if I left the country without one, my work visa would be automatically canceled and I’d be unable to return! Richard will be making a similar trek on one of his upcoming days off.
There are two types of re-entry permits – single or multiple. A single allows you to leave the country once and costs 3000 yen (approximately $30) while a multiple allows any number of trips and costs 6000 yen so anyone who is reasonably sure that they’ll leave at least twice during their stay is advised to apply for a multiple. It also saves making a second rather boring trip to the immigration office.
By far the most interesting part of the trip was a short ride on the Chiba city monorail. Suspended from an overhead track, it winds its way above the city traffic, in some places several stories from the ground.
The actual application procedure was relatively simple. First, I had to go to a post office and purchase a 6000 yen revenue stamp which looks like a postage stamp and is affixed to a payment form that accompanies the re-entry permit application. There’s a post office in the basement of the building where the immigration office is located. I decided to go there instead of our local one because I was pretty sure they’d be more accustomed to dealing with foreigners and would more easily understand what I was looking for. Once I had the revenue stamp and had filled out the application form, I simply had to take a number, wait my turn and present them along with my passport and my alien registration card. The waiting room was definitely a multicultural gathering place with some people looking quite stressed and others simply bored. Once I’d waited half an hour or so, processing the application and affixing the permit to my passport took only a few minutes.
So, why do we need the re-entry permits? We’re planning to spend our nine day summer vacation in South Korea. We fly to Seoul on August 9th. After three days and four nights there, we’ll travel by train to Busan and fly back to Japan from there on August 17th. We also plan to leave Japan a second time for our Christmas/winter vacation. Those plans are pretty sketchy at this point but we’re thinking about Cambodia, Thailand and possibly Vietnam.