About Okinawa and Visa

The name Okinawa means "rope in the open sea", a fairly apt description of this long stretch of islands between the four main islands of Japan and Taiwan. Consisting of 49 inhabited islands and 111 uninhabited islands, Okinawa has a subtropical/tropical climate. Unlike the other Japanese subtropical/tropical islands such as Ogasawara Islands, Amami Islands and Tokara Islands, there are frequent flights from all the major cities of Japan, which helps Okinawa remain one of the major tourist destinations for the Japanese. Every year there are more and more foreign visitors going to Okinawa but the number still remains low compared to the tourist destinations on mainland Japan.


With their own language and customs, Okinawans still regard themselves as different from the mainland Japanese and some still harbor a certain degree of resentment towards the mainland for the brutal way the islands were treated as colonies and during World War II. Okinawans proudly call themselves uchinanchu (沖縄人) or "sea people" in the local dialect and talk of the way things are done on the shima (島) or island(s), in contrast to the ways of the mainland, known as hontō (本島) in standard Japanese, yamato (ヤマト) in the local dialect, and sometimes as the slightly derisive local slang naichi (内地).
Okinawa's most famous export worldwide is the martial art of karate. In recent years Okinawan culture has become quite popular throughout Japan thanks to popular musicians and local foods. Okinawan music is very attractive and unique because of the mixture of original Okinawan sounds and American rock, jazz, and other sounds from the USA. The distinctive instrument of choice is the sanshin (三線), a three-stringed, banjo-like distant relative of the mainland's shamisen, whose pentatonic melodies are instantly recognizable. The island has produced a disproportionate amount of musicians, most famously J-pop singer Namie Amuro, and The Boom's electric-guitar-and-sanshin Shimauta ("Island Song") has been dubbed Okinawa's unofficial national anthem — even though the group actually hails from mainland Yamanashi.
On the roof or at the gate of almost every house you will spot the ubiquitous Okinawan shīsa or guardian lion-dogs, one with its mouth open to catch good fortune, the other with its mouth closed to keep good fortune in.

By plane

Most visitors arrive in Naha, the capital of Okinawa. Domestic flights do connect major Japanese cities directly to some other Okinawan islands like Miyako and Ishigaki, but prices can be steep; for example, the standard one-way fare for Tokyo-Ishigaki is a whopping ¥50,000. Using an international airpass like Star Alliance's Visit Japan or JAL's Welcome to Japan, both of which allow domestic flights in Japan for ¥12,000, may allow considerable savings. Numerous discount airlines now offer flights to Naha from the main cities in mainland Japan offering much cheaper options to visit Okinawa. SkyMark, JetStar and others offer flights from Tokyo and other major cities in Japan to Naha. Low cost airlines such as Air Asia Japan and Peach Aviation now fly between Okinawa (Naha) and Tokyo Narita, Osaka Kansai respectively.
Most Japanese airlines do offer deep discounts, but they MUST be bought in advance. On the airline websites, these fares are given names such as "Ultra SAKITOKU Advanced Purchase Fare", which is a JAL fare only available to purchase at least 75 days before the flight. This one way Tokyo-Okinawa fare is just ¥11,990. For ¥1,000 more, you can upgrade to a J class fare, which will give you a larger seat at the front of the plane.

By ship

Ferry services to Okinawa have been cut drastically in the last few years, with Arimura Sangyo filing for bankruptcy and RKK Line stopping passenger services entirely. With long travel times, bumpy seas, frequent cancellations in the fall typhoon season and prices that aren't any cheaper than flying, it's easy to see why this isn't too popular anymore.
As of November 2008, the only survivors are A-Line Ferry, aka Maru-A (マルエー), which runs twice a week from Kagoshima (25 hours, ¥16,000 2nd class one-way) and once a week from Osaka/Kobe to Naha, and Marix Line, which runs between Kagoshima and Naha only. All ferries call at various minor islands including Yoron and Amami Oshima along the way. Note that if you don't speak Japanese, you will find it easier to book through a travel agent.
In additional, Star Cruises operates irregular cruises from Keelung, Taiwan to Naha via Ishigaki and Miyako. The service operates in summer months only (June-Sep) and is not available all years.

Visa Information

Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay. In order to enter Japan, visitors usually must comply with the conditions of their visas and authorizations of resident eligibility. However, visa exemptions can be made for citizens of sixty-six different countries provided that their stays are within ninety days such as with stays for sightseeing purposes and that they do not engage in activities where they earn compensation. This page provides information on short stays. Revisions in visa conditions are made periodically. Therefore, please check the “Visa” section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website if the latest and detailed information on standard visas or visas other than for those for short stay programs is needed.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/index.html
On Short Stays – Countries and regions that do not require visas
The following is a list of nationals of countries that have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan:
For a period of 90 days or less
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria(*7), Bahamas, Barbados(*6), Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany(*7), Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong(*3), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland(*7), Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lesotho(*6), Liechtenstein(*7), Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao(*4), Malaysia(*1), Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia(*2), Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland(*7), Taiwan(*5), Tunisia, Turkey(*6), United Kingdom(*7), United States and Uruguay
For a period of 15 days or less
Thailand(*2) and Brunei
(*1) For nationals of Malaysia (since July 1, 2013), visas are not required only for holders of ePassport in compliance with ICAO standards. Those who do not hold such ePassport are advised to obtain a visa in advance, otherwise will be strictly examined and may be refused entry to Japan.
(*2) For nationals of Thailand (since July 1, 2013) and Serbia (since May 1, 2013), visas are not required only for holders of ePassport in compliance with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards.
(*3) For citizens of Hong Kong, visas are not required only for holders of Special Administrative Region (SAR) passport issued by the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China or British National Overseas (BNO) passports who have the right of residence in Hong Kong.
(*4) For citizens of Macao, visas are not required only for holders of SAR passport issued by the Macao SAR of the People’s Republic of China.
(*5) For citizens of Taiwan, visas are not required only for holders of Taiwan passport which includes a personal identification number.
(*6) For nationals of Barbados (since April 1, 2010), Turkey (since April 1, 2011) and Lesotho (since April 1, 2010), visas are not required only for holders of Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) or ePassport in compliance with ICAO standards. Those who do not hold an MRP or ePassport are advised to obtain a visa in advance, otherwise will be strictly examined and may be refused entry to Japan.
(*7) For nationals of those countries with visa exemptions permitting stays of up to 6 months under the bilateral visa exemption arrangements, those who wish to stay in Japan for more than 90 days are required to apply for an extension of the period of stay to the Ministry of Justice (Regional Immigration Bureau) before the period of permitted stay is to expire.
(*8) Nationals of Peru (since July 15, 1995) and Colombia (since February 1, 2004), are advised to obtain a visa in advance, otherwise will be strictly examined and may be refused entry to Japan.
A “Temporary Visitor’s Visa” is usually required as permission to stay in Japan for a period of up to 90 days for non-remunerative activities such as sightseeing, participating in amateur sports, visiting relatives, taking inspection tours, participating in lectures or research, attending conferences, making business contacts or other similar activities.
Needless to say, the “Temporary Visitor’s Visa” cannot be used for any remunerative purposes, which involve profit making or payment acceptance within Japan by the visitor.
Countries that require visas
Nationals of countries that do not have “Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements” with Japan must obtain a visa. Please see the information below if you are a visitor from a country that does not fall under the sixty-six countries with the visa exemption programs above.
China http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/topics/china.html
Russia, CIS countries, or Georgia http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/russia_nis.html
Philippines http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/short/philippine.html
Other nationalities (if a visa is necessary)
To apply for a visa, please check the following link:
As the type of documents required for the application may differ according to the purpose of your visit, the applicant is advised to check with the Japanese Embassy or consulate beforehand.

More information about Japan Visa, please visit https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/basic-info/tourist-info/visa-information.html.


Please note ICBAE is not authorized to assist with the VISA process beyond providing the Notification of Acceptance Letter and Invitation Letter (after registration) issued by the ICBAE Committee Board.

Should your application be denied, ICBAE cannot change the decision of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor will ICBAE engage in discussion or correspondence with the MOFA or the Embassy of Japan on behalf of the applicant. The registration fee cannot be refunded when the VISA application of individual being denied.

Submission Method

Electronic Submission System ( .pdf)
Formatting Instructions (DOC)  JOAAT
Formatting Instructions (DOC)  IJPMBS

Contact us

Ms. Sophia Du

E-mail: icbae@cbees.net