As a general rule, foreigners entering Japan must have a passport issued by their own nation and also possess a visa stating the reason for their visit, period of stay, and residential qualifications from the Japanese embassy or Japanese consulate in their own nation.
To apply for and obtain a visa, excluding short-term visas, normally, it is required to have a "Certificate of Eligibility" issued by the Immigration Bureau of Japan. The Certificate of Eligibility can be submitted by the destination school or corporation to the Immigration Bureau in place of the person.
For more details, please refer to the Japan Visa Guide.
However, visas are not required for the following situations.
Japan, as of February 2008, has implemented visa exemptions for 62 countries and regions.
Citizens of these countries and regions (who carry official passports) are allowed to visit Japan for the short-term without the need for a visa for business, meetings, tourism, or visiting acquaintances or family. However, if the person in question receives payment in Japan, a visa will be required even if they may be from those particular nations or regions. Once the term for the stay expires, a visa will be required for any additional period of stay. Please refer to the homepage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for information on visa exemptions.
A visa must be acquired in order to study in Japan.
Foreign students studying at one of the following educational institutions are eligible for a College Student residence status. (Excludes cases where student studies at a night school or through correspondence courses exclusively.)
(1) Students studying at universities (undergraduate and graduate), junior colleges, special training colleges (post secondary courses only), preparatory educational institutions, colleges of technology.
(2) Students studying in high schools and advanced and general courses (excludes post secondary courses) at special training colleges as well as students enrolled in miscellaneous schools or equivalent educational institutions.
Firearms, drugs, objects that infringe on intellectual property, and certain other items may not be brought into Japan by law. Breaking these laws will incur severe penalties so please be sure to follow the rules carefully.
Please refer to the Customs website for more information on restricted articles.