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JR Pass, change Visa 2008/5/13 12:42
Hi, I've been in Japan a few months living and studying more than traveling. I have a working holiday visa with a multiple re-entry stamp. Although I plan to leave Japan in 1 month (and not come back until next year).

Here's the deal. My sister is coming over next week and we're going to travel the western part of Honshu, all of Kyushu and maybe Shikoku.

She's going to get her rail pass and I'm here looking at my budget and crying. Since I don't need my Visa anymore, I was wondering if I could just do a short trip to South Korea and when I come back, ask to get my Visa canceled and get a Tourist Visa (and buy the JR pass in Korea). Is it possible? Do I need to go through any special procedures to get my multiple re-entry canceled?

Second question, would it be possible for my sister to buy the JR pass in Canada for me, so that I don't have to go buy it in Korea? That way I could do a little site-seeing in Korea instead :D.

Last question!
If I come back next year purely as a tourist, can I buy the rail pass again? I didn't see anything about it being a once in a lifetime thing, but just making sure ^^.

Thanks a lot!
by Andrew08  

visa, JR pass etc 2008/5/13 14:47
If you tell the Immigration officers that you are leaving for good, fill out the embarkation card that was originally stapled in your passport instead of the re-entrant card, and surrender your gaijin card, then your working holiday visa will be cancelled as you leave- you would automatically be given a new tourist permit when you came back in, although you might have to explain then why you are coming back so soon.

You may want to contact Immigration ASAP and ask about a change of status from WH visa to visitor, but I'm not sure how long that takes and you haven't left yourself a lot of time.

Has your sister asked the travel agent in Canada whether she can buy the JR Pass on your behalf? That seems like a good place to start. I'm guessing she can.

You can have as many JR passes in your lifetime as you want, it's not like a working holiday visa, JR is a business and they want to make money off you so will sell you one any time.
by Sira rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/5/13 15:11
I have already re-entered Japan with my multiple re-entry stamp. So the re-entry paper got ripped off then.

I will consult the immigration bureau tomorrow.

I'll ask my sister to check it out with a travel agency. Thanks!
by Andrew08 rate this post as useful

different card 2008/5/13 16:37
Actually I don't mean the re-entry card, I mean the original one which you filled out when you first arrived in Japan which all visitors have to fill out- it is yellow and purple rather than yellow and red like the re-entry card. The one you use to leave permanently says "embarkation card for foreigner" rather than "embarkation card for re-entrant".

I have been in Japan for 9 years on this particular visa and my embarkation form is still there, even though I have had a new passport since- Immigration took it out of the old passport and stapled it into this one.

Possibly yours has got lost somewhere along the line- this is no problem, just fill a new one out when you leave- they are available at the airport.

By all means check with Immigration also.
by Sira rate this post as useful

JR Rail Pass 2008/5/13 17:37
I am afraid it will not help that your sister is buying the Exchange Order in Canada for you. This Exchange Order will only be changed to the JR Rail Pass in Japan and after checking that your passport has temporary visitor stamp.
by Peter rate this post as useful

buying a voucher in canada 2008/5/13 18:38
The point was that I could go to Korea without worrying about getting the voucher.

I'm not trying to trick the system, I will get my tourist visa.
by Andrew08 rate this post as useful

Same position 2008/5/13 23:01
Andrew 08,

Ironically, I'm in the exact same position as you. I have a regular working visa and my work contract ends soon. I want to turn my working visa into a tourist visa so I can take advantage of the JR pass. However, instead of Korea, I was thinking of going to HK. Instead of a sister, my brother is coming.

My impression is that it's possible to turn in your ARC card to the immigration officer at the airport, as the previous poster said. This will revoke your residence in Japan which will enable you to come back as a tourist. I also heard you can change your Visa to a tourist visa at your local immigration office (but you still have to buy a JR pass outside of the country, but your sister could possibly do so).

I'm still looking for a solid answer. If I find anything, I'll post here. Hope you do the same.

Good luck!
by jojokun rate this post as useful

BTW 2008/5/13 23:08
Btw, here is a thread I posted a while back regarding the subject:

by jojokun rate this post as useful

Can't answer the visa question.... 2008/5/13 23:19
But I can answer the JR pass question. Yes, your sister can purchase the JR pass voucher in Canada on your behalf. Just make sure she has all the information off your passport including how your name is spelled on your passport. I did this when traveling to Japan earlier this year with a friend who lives in Arizona because there were no travel agents anywhere near him that sold the pass.
by John rate this post as useful

JR pass 2008/5/14 04:01
I have bought JR pass vouchers for 2 people several times in Canada-at our local JTB bureau--and they never asked for our passports, likely because they assumed that we knew we had to have current passports. I know that this sounds like a circular reasoning but..
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

... 2008/5/14 09:55
if you don't want to leave the country you can apply for a change in visa status at your local immigration office once you are finished with your job. That will change you over to a tourist visa which qualifies you to use a Japan Rail Pass.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/5/14 13:29
Jojokun, thats a pretty funny coincidence. Anyways, I will go to the immigration bureau today and let you know how it went.

Thanks to everyone for having answered my questions!
by Andrew08 rate this post as useful

just throwing it out there 2008/5/14 14:22
just throwing it out there but is a JR pass even worth a trip to Korea for? Maybe I'm thinking too much from an American currency perspective but considering the weak rate of exchange right now and the fact that you can't even ride Nozomi with the JR pass, is it worth going through all that trouble?
by Dan rate this post as useful

... 2008/5/14 15:18
Another thing to consider is that there are other rail passes available. Since you will be spending your time in only 3 regions of Japan rather than the entire country it may be cheaper to pick up a regional rail pass instead. Some are available to residents as well. This page has more info on other rail passes:

by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

. 2008/5/14 17:27
I checked the other passes, it would sum up to about the same price except that I have to end up in Tokyo, which the JR Pass will cover and not the others. So the JR Pass is slightly advantageous and more convenient.

Thanks for the advice though.
(Contrarily to the american dollar, the Canadian dollar is doing fine, and it would cost me way more than 450$ for my trip, so the JR Pass is worth it ^^).

I went to the immigration bureau, all seems to be possible, except they need a few days to process the demand.
I've thoroughly went through the whole situation twice and got confirmed twice that it is possible. I will confirm whether I was successful or not in a few days.
by Andrew08 rate this post as useful

Done 2008/5/21 19:26
I entered to wrong "ku" in my address .. I thought I was in nishi-ku but I'm just on top in fukushima-ku -___-.

Anyways, that delayed things, but I got to the immigration bureau today. Explained the error in my address. Told them I was in a hurry, so the reception lady phoned them and since it had been already a week, they saw me right away.

The lady spoke really good English, although I had to re-explain my situation a few times and insist a few times that they should be able to do it.
She kept saying she didn't think she could change it for that reason. After explaining it in various ways, she went and asked her boss and he said no problem.
It might have been easier to explain in Japanese, since I had no problems with the other non-english speaking staff.

So it cost me 4000en and got my "temporary visitor" stamp right away. The exact same stamp as showed on japanrailpass.net (with the exact same information).

Therefore, I call success.

My tips:
-If you can speak Japanese correctly, do so instead of using English.
-Insist while staying polite.
-Mention that you don't have a job and will not work after.
-Mention that you are going back home for good after.
-Sound convinced that the JR Pass will really help you out and that you really want the change*.

*she told me a few times "well, will it really save you money? I don't think you need it"

So they accepted the status change with the reason "I want to use the JR Pass".
Although it required a lot of insisting and extra work.

Good luck!
Thanks to all who gave me information!
(wish me luck on getting to Yakushima before the rainy season!)
by Andrew rate this post as useful

Update 2008/6/9 13:16
Just thought I'd let everyone know it worked perfectly and enjoyed my JR Pass for over 1000$!
by Andrew08 rate this post as useful

Me too (soon!) 2008/6/11 00:44
Me too, in 2 weeks time!

I had a working Visa. Went to the airport, turned in my ARC card. Went to HK, bought the rail pass exchange order. Came back to Japan, got the temporary visitor stamp and 90 Day Visa. will exchange the order next week.

Worked just like everyone said it would, thanks!
by jojokun rate this post as useful

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