Friday, December 4, 2009

Osaka Visa Run: How I Did It

This will be my information of my experience of doing the Osaka Visa Run. I stayed there for 6 days so I had plenty of time to get accustomed to the transportation system and local neighborhood near the Korean Consulate.

From Kansai Airport to the Train Station:
Obviously you will take a flight into Kansai International Airport. After clearing immigration and picking up any checked-in luggage you are free to go.

Head towards the signs that read "subway" so that you can follow your way to the public transportation options.

Transportation Passes:
Before heading directly to the train stop for a minute at the Tourist Information Center located on the first floor. You want to stop at the "Travel Desk" because you can purchase a very important train pass called the "Kansai Thru Pass"

For just 5,000 Yen for a 3 day pass or 3,800 for a 2 day pass you can use this to ride the Osaka City Subway and buses both in Osaka and Kyoto.

It is a lot easier than having to figure out which ticket to buy at the station. Also when you transfer from one Osaka subway line to another you have to buy a separate ticket. This saves you the hassle.

**Also you get a complimentary Kansai guide with train and bus map that is amazingly useful!
**In this area also look for more maps and tourist information.

And yes! It will allow you to ride from the airport to Namba station, on the Nankai line, which is where you are going.

If you plan on staying longer than 2 days consider getting the JR Subway pass. JR subway is a private line and more expensive but it can easily take you to places like Kyoto and has rapid service trains that are really fast. I would recommend getting a 3 day pass depending on how far you want to travel.

You will get the JR West Kansai Pass and to get it you have to show your passport. Also the ticket booth is in the train entrance area which means you have to make the next move and leave the airport terminal building and go to the train station.
 

Subway / Train Terminal Building:
Again make your way to this area of the airport complex to either use your Kansai Thru Pass or purchase a ticket on the Nankai line heading for Namba.

But the best way I found to plan out what train to take was to use these trip planning websites:

Enter your information: Hint on using this site... type in the station name until you get the choices which come up and select the choice...Namba Nankai is a different station and line from Namba (Subway).

Hit "Search" and view your results. You basically have 3 choices:

1. Nankai "RAPIT" which costs the most but is the fastest...but not really that much faster.




2. Nankai "Airport Express"... makes major stops before arriving at Namba but pretty fast.


3. Nankai "Local" makes every stop before arriving at Namba....slow but you can enjoy the scenery.

You can use the Kansai Thru Pass on all of these EXCEPT the "RAPIT". You can take the RAPIT and pay a discount since you have Kansai Thru Pass, basically paying the difference.

All in all I would shoot for #2 of that list up there. Once you have your ticket or Kansai Thru Pass go through the gate (put your ticket in the machine) and make your way down to the platform.

Read the signs along the platforms and find the one that shows the label of the train..."Airport Express". Wait and get on the train. If you are going to take a local train expect more passengers so tuck your luggage close to yourself to be nice.

Namba Station Maze:
This might be the trickiest part. I know many other bloggers and recruiter websites say to just take "Exit 25" and make a right....blah blah...well it was complicated for me considering that Namba station is huge. It includes connections to other lines and an underground shopping mall. But with a little preparation I am sure you can also make it out.

You have two major choices you can make to get out of Namba station and towards the Korean Consulate. First let's look at a map of the station:



The train you get off on is on level 3F you need to make your way out the turnstyle (put in your ticket to exit) and make your way to either 1 of 2 exit choices.
1. Main exit (above ground...main entrance...more walking distance to Consulate)
2. Exit 25 (closest exit to the Consulate)
Signs and exit markers are confusing...but I will try to explain everything to make it clear


Area Map:
To put this into reality let's look at a map of the area:
First I will show you the clean version:

Let's look at my modified version:


The station you arrive at it is the "Blue Namba" on the map. If you notice there are actually 3 different Namba stations here.

Exit Choices How To:
  1. Central Exit: This exit is probably the easiest to find. Once you get outside you can look around and see you are next to this building: source

From here you head upwards toward the area I have shown you on the map. You want to be on the left side of the street. You will pass the Shin Kabuki theater and you know you are on the right side of the street if this is right next to you above your head.

Keep going and you should come to a huge ass intersection with a highway overpass above you. Walk under this and notice on the other side of the street (on the right) is the Namba Hips building.

Not hard to miss....funky looking building. So keep going up and cross the little bridge over the stream.

Pass the McDonalds and exit 25.
You will soon see a JAL airline sign advertisement and just past this is the Korean consulate with the huge ass Korean flag out front and security dudes keeping watch. I don't have a picture but you can imagine this pretty easily I think.

2. Choice: Exit 25
This choice means you need to find your way from level 3F to the exit. Let me just say that when you get off the train you are on the opposite end of where the exit is, so you need to travel through the underground maze to Exit 25.


I found this lovely map to illustrate how they organize their exiting system. If you find this map you will see that you are coming out of the D Green area (Nankai subway) and you need to get to the end of the C (Red area).


Look for exit signs like this:




Find your way to exit 25 by following those guidelines. In general if you see the red markings in the above pictures you are making your way there. There are many information stations along the way which you can ask for help. I did and they were very helpful.

Once you are out of exit 25 this is what you do:
Make a sharp right and make sure the "Royal Host" restaurant is on your left side. Go up the street and follow the same instructions as mentioned above.

 
 
At the Korean Consulate: Procedure
The rest is a breeze as long as you have all your documents and your visa number.

- 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 6,000 Yen (approximately 60,000 KRW)

Other Information You will Need Handy:
  • Your address in Korea (full address) If you don't know ask for a close friends address....it's ok.
  • Your school's address and name (In English and Korean to be safe)
  • Your phone number
  • Your school's contact phone number
Step 1:
Find yourself in the Korean consulate. There are "island" style tables near the entrance with the forms. Find the one titled "Visa application".

Fill everything out concisely. There is an example on the island table.

Step 2:
Go to the "Visa" window and tell them you are there to get a new visa. She or He will look over your paper and give you a plastic number. You are to wait till your number is called.

Step 3:
Your number is called and you go up to the window. The person looks over your document to make sure you filled it in correctly. You give them your little passport photo. They then instruct you to buy a "stamp / sticker" from the vending machine nearby in the room.

They tell you how to do it and which buttons to press. You have to pay the exact amount and press the button so the stamp comes out of the machine. You then go back to the window and hand in the stamp along with handing over your passport.

They then give you a little piece of paper detailing when to come back to the consulate to pick up your visa and passport.

Step 4:
Check into a hotel. You can figure this out either before you go or look around while you are there. I used www.tourbaksa.com and got a flight/hotel deal for 6 days. If your school is helping you they may set things up for you.

After checking in you can become a tourist and have lots of fun.

Some great Kansai / Osaka tourist websites:
Step 5:
Pick up your visa by showing up at the time requested and handing in that little slip of paper.

Go back to Korea or stay and be a tourist.

What if's:
  • Osaka is a fun area with trendy shops and 20 somethings dressed really stylish.
  • Food is great and I highly recommend trying Japanese style donkatsu as it is better than Korean.
  • Some people might speak English but again don't expect it. 
  • Walk on the left. If you don't you will find yourself trying to go through a maze of people.
  • If a small souvenir, like a cell phone charm, is over 600 Yen then it is too expensive.
  • They have the same mini-stores like "Buy the Way" and "AmPm". You can find ramen here and healthy take out snacks such as mini salads. A real time and money saver if you are tired.
  • Bring as much money as you are willing to spend. 
  • Go see a Temple or other sacred sight.
  • I highly recommend skipping Osaka castle and going towards Nara.
  • Go through the back alleys...they are safe and full of cute shops and great restaurants. 
  • Keep clear of "Pachinko" alleys...as they hold the skeevy types.
  • Give yourself enough time to get back to the airport as you will have to figure out the subway system again. And there is a lot of shopping at the airport if you have extra time.
I hope this was both concise and will make your life easier the next time you go. I did a heck of a lot of research before I left instead of taking the "whatever" route.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. Now that I have finished up this post I will get back to writing up about the places I saw. ;)

6 comments:

  1. WOW...what a great job!
    I know this would be v. helpful for anyone who needs to make the same Visa run....
    Your instructions, diagrams,etc... were excellent!
    Maybe you should consider doing a whole little book for publication...for women traveling in Asia!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Mom I have considered that :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Joy,
    One of your best posts this year :) I recently did a visa run to Osaka and wrote basically the same post at almost the same time. Again, nice job. :)

    As for the 'women traveling in Asia' idea - love it! It might be a little too specific of a genre, but certainly would be worth expanding and pursuing if you're so inclined

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Joy,

    I just wanted to thank you for this brilliant post. I was in Osaka this week with my friend, and I printed a copy of your visa run guide before we left. It helped us at every step.

    So... thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cass I am so glad to hear that. Hope you had a good time there and found some fun places along the way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just used these directions last month for my visa run! Still perfect.. though Id sugest that once you're off the train from the airport, if it looks like you're in a mall, youre going the wrong way... if its grimy, and looks like a subway station, you're heading towards exit 25! Everyone speaks english, and if you look lost enough, a stranger will probably stop and ask what they can help you with :)

    ReplyDelete

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