Thursday, August 29, 2013

Visa Run to Fukuoka, Japan

The Process

The process is pretty straightforward. Day 1 - Drop off your forms and passport at the Korean consulate in the morning (before 11:00), and then Day 2 - pick the passport back up after 11:00 - 12:00 or early afternoon (after 13:30). Two pieces of advice are:

u  Get to the consulate as early as possible (9:00 or 10:00) on Day 1, so you don’t miss getting your application in and so you can spend the rest of the day touring around.
u  Prepare all your documents in Korea - then you can jump the lines at the consulate and also know you have everything.
Once you get back to Korea, you have 90 days to go to Korean immigration in Korea and apply for your Alien Registration Card (ARC).
Documents required:
ü  Passport
ü  Completed application form (picked up at the Korean Consulate or downloaded online)
ü  Certificate for confirmation of visa issuance (a blue form from your employer in Korea)
ü  2 color passport photos (3cm x 4cm)
ü  Application fee: 6,000JPY (about 70,000KRW)

The Korean Consulate in Fukuoka
u  Address: 1-1-3, Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan 810-0065
u  Phone: 092-771-0461
u  Office Hours: M-F, 10:00-12:00 & 13:30-15:30. Closed Sat-Sun. Closed both Korean & Japanese holidays

Directions to the Korean Consulate (Fukuoka)
1.     Take the subway to Tojin Machi Station
2.     Take exit 1 (follow the signs to the Korean Consulate)
3.     Walk straight for about 5 minutes
4.     Reach a T-intersection, cross the road and turn right
5.     Walk straight for about 5 minutes and look for the consulate

For information concerning getting your visa, see Visa Runs from Korea to Japan.

While in Fukuoka, look around. There is a gorgeous lake (Ohori Park) with bike lanes around it, and just east of it massive and diverse water lily gardens,  a castle wall (which was undergoing some archaeological excavations), and more than a couple large Shinto shrines. A walk to the ocean from the consulate is also possible. Explore!

Fukuoka Castle ruins - the castle was built in the Edo Period (17th - 19th century)

Fukuoka Castle was one of the largest castles in Japan with four floors, 47 turrets, and a samurai quarters spanning over 2.46 million square meters. The east gate provided access between the second and third baileys, and it was part of the main route to the second bailey, the castle keep, and to the castle tower. The third bailey contained the residences of the chief retainers to the feudal lord.

Shintoism - Shinto, "the way of the Kami (gods)", is such a widespread practice in Japan and, along with Buddhism, creates quite the mix of philosophical rather than religious beliefs. There are various forms of Shintoism: Koshito - the Shinto of the Imperial House, Jinja (shrine) Shinto - the largest group, Kyoha (sectarian) Shinto aka Shuha Shinto, and Minzoku (folk) Shinto. It is guestimated that about 84% of the Japanese population believes in some kind of Shinto and/or Buddhism. How this percentage is arrived at is unknown, but with most Japanese attending shrines and/or temples at key moments in their lives, then perhaps this number reflects the number of "Christians" in the US, as that  number often counts the "Christians" who go to church twice a year - Easter and Christmas - and therefore term themselves as "Christians".

In any regard, I rented a bicycle for about a dollar a day and peddled around in Ohori Park, around the lake. To the east and southeast of the lake are large Shinto shrines with massive pillars. The first had such huge tree trunks holding it up that it would take three adults to circle their arms around the massive supports!

wooden structure - absolutely massive!
cement structure
In China the color red symbolizes the ridding of evil spirits. That's why the color is so heavily employed (the hanging of red lanterns, the wearing of red clothes, the giving of red New Year's cards) at the beginning of New Year's along with the explosion of red fire crackers. In China it is also an elemental and directional color for it symbolizes the element fire and the direction south.

In Japan, red symbolizes auspiciousness and happiness. Red is a powerful color in Japan, and is heavily a part of both Shinto and Buddhist rituals. Not only is it for auspiciousness and happiness but represents strong emotions rather than ideas; it connotes energy, vitality, heat and power. In more modern times it represents love, intimacy and sexual desire, but most importantly, and this applies heavily to the religious underlying principles, it represents life force and the energy of the people.

Water - purifying to the body and the spirit and therefore its presence within all Shinto and Buddhist temples alike. This spring is at the center of one of the largest Shinto shrine areas I entered.

And back to Ohori Park and the beautiful lake. The first day I was in Fukuoka the weather was hot, steamy but very gorgeous. The second day, however, cooled down very quickly as the clouds began to roll in. Yep, typhoon season. I returned my bike and the majority of the second day was spent in a tea shop reading a book and waiting for the time to pass so I could go to the airport and return on the evening flight to Korea. (click on pictures to enlarge)

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