Suggestions for flexible Japan travel?
June 15, 2014 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Entering the country without an onward ticket, wanting to be flexible.

I am planning my big trip to Japan and Australia. The itinerary is Belgium to Japan and then to Australia.

I have my ticket for Belgium to Japan, but no onward journey ticket yet. The visa/embassy explanations for Belgium recommend having a return ticket or onward journey ticket.

I feel like I want to go to Japan and get a feel for it, and then make the decision about my length of stay.

Any experienced traveller who knows my options? I understand I have to have proof I will eventually leave the country - I just want to be a bit flexible.
posted by wolfr to Travel & Transportation around Japan (7 answers total)
I tried this about 2 months ago. I had a one way ticket into Japan with JAL but the airline would not let me board the plane without a ticket out of the country. I ended up buying a very cheap ticket from Japan to Taiwan to satisfy their requirements and be allowed to board. Japanese immigration never actually checked for proof of onward travel. My understanding is that the airline is financially responsible for getting you home if you're rejected by immigration, which is why they're sometimes much stricter about this kind of things than actual immigration.

You have a couple of options as I see it. You can buy a refundable/cheap ticket out of Japan and change it later or lose a small amount of money if you end up not using it. Another option is to create a fake itinerary to show the airline or immigration as "proof" of onward travel. I've never personally gone the fake itinerary route but I've known a few travelers who have done it without a problem.
posted by horizons at 11:51 AM on June 15, 2014

You'd have to know what a booking slip looks like but you could also fake a ferry ticket from Japan to South Korea.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:02 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Purchase a ticket to Korea (super cheap) or Taiwan. Do not attempt to fake a ticket. You will be deported and barred from entering Japan for at least five years. Since you are traveling from Belgium, you could be held in detention as a drug smuggler or something. Play by the rules in Japan and you will be treated fine. Don't play by the rules...
posted by KokuRyu at 1:05 PM on June 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have gone to Japan a dozen times without an onward ticket. Occasionally they give me a little hassle but usually they just ask why I don't have an onward ticket, and I say "I plan to take the boat to Korea" or "I'm going to fly to china soon, but don't know exactly when yet" (both the truth) and they let me enter. In theory, they could deny you I guess, but I never worry about it. FYI I am American.
posted by crawltopslow at 2:21 PM on June 15, 2014

+1 to buying a refundable one-way ticket somewhere. It is 100% safe and will not cost extra money (after you get a refund).

I also think saying "I don't exactly know when I'm leaving" seems like it would be risking being turned at immigration. But if you don't have the cash for an extra refundable ticket, that's what I'd do.

-1000 to faking your itinerary or ticket, that has the potential (even if small) to be awful in the long run, especially since many airport/airline/immigration databases could potentially be shared between governments now or in the future.
posted by melvinwang at 3:45 PM on June 15, 2014

In my experience Japanese immigration mostly just wants to know you won't overstay your visa (in order to work in Japan illegally or similar), so if you have a job back home, and good explanations of why you don't have the return ticket already, I highly doubt you'll have any problem.
posted by crawltopslow at 6:34 PM on June 15, 2014

Response by poster: I would never fake a ticket and would rather spend the cash to a ticket I'm not even going to use. The thinking is - don't mess with customs/immigration: my entrance to a country could be prohibited (possibly forever).

I think I will just state that I am going to Australia after about one month but have not bought my ticket yet. Or maybe I should just buy an Australia ticket so I can stop worrying about this.

Thanks everyone!
posted by wolfr at 5:29 AM on June 16, 2014

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