I'm a Filipino who has gone to Japan previously as an exchange student when I was in High School. My purpose was to visit my Japanese host family (which goes under friends and distant relatives), so I needed a travel agency that could process Japanese documents. Note that the Japanese embassy no longer processes visas directly. You will have to go an accredited agency (listed in their website). I know that there is an agency that is NOT capable of processing Japanese documents. I chose Reli Tours & Travel Company because they are capable of it and was conveniently located.
For ordinary, single-entry tourist visas, Reli charges P1,200 for processing w/o Japanese documents and P2,000 for those with Japanese documents. They are also capable of processing other types of Japanese visas. You can contact them for details.
I had to make sure that my documents were in order. The documents required of me were:
1. Philippine Passport (I've heard that it's better to have a passport with at least 6 months left before expiration when travelling abroad)
2. Visa Application Form (form available in Embassy website and Reli)
3. Photo, 4.5cm x 4.5cm w/ White Background (this is NOT a 2x2 picture and you should explicitly state that you need a Japanese visa sized picture when having it taken)
4. Used Japanese visa (in place of Birth Certificate and Marriage Contract if applicable)
5. Daily Schedule in Japan
6. Documents or Photos to prove relationship to guarantor
7. Invitation letter from guarantor in japan (this was in Japanese)
8. Bank certificate addressed to Japanese Embassy (from my parents)
Since I was being sponsored by my parents as I am still a student, it was my parents' bank certificate that was used. Proof of being a student was given (this could be a certificate of enrollment or some such). I also had to give a letter of explanation explaining my circumstances of using a sponsor and my parents' willingness to sponsor me.
All documents were original.
Because my guarantor was not shouldering any expense, I did not have to give other Japanese documents (it was a good thing, as it was already embarrassing enough that I needed an invitation letter which had to be mailed from Japan). I don't think I would have pushed through if I needed to get their tax and income certificates! Hazukashiii!!!
I had to make a personal appearance at the agency. I saw that there was an actual Japanese person inside who was making phone calls in Japanese. I bet this is why you have to pay the extra P800 :))
I did not buy a plane ticket before or during my application process.
It took me around a week to get my visa with no problems. I have a ticket now! I was actually very full of doubts about whether my application would push through so I was so happy when I saw it (with Sakura too!).
There were two posts on magnetic-rose . net that were very helpful for me (look for it there, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to link). Specifically she was able to summarize that you need 3 things to get a Japanese tourist visa (which may apply to most visas):
1) proof of good financial standing; 2) history of travel; and 3) proof of return.
- magnetic_rose, April 17, 2009
(I will delete if requested :) )
My parents had the first, I had the second and third (so I believe that it's not necessarily a plane ticket).
The only problem I had with the travel agency was that they were very hard to contact via phone. Also, note that queries regarding the Japanese visa is only until 7pm. There may also be a lot of people in line depending on the time/season.
I hope this helps in some way. Good luck to those getting their visas :)