Visa to the State of Japan

I’ve gone to East Asia. I’ve already been to South Korea and one other country popular in East Asia is, of course, the land of the rising sun, Japan. I have dreamt of visiting Japan when I was a kid. Thus, I made sure to go and visit the capital of Anime. I am currently holding a Philippine passport. For a Filipino citizen to enter the nation of Japan, he/she should have a visa.

Visa is a form of documentation issued by the nation’s government allowing the bearer to enter or leave that country.

Japan’s Transit Visa

Japan or officially called as Nippon-koku or literally the ‘State of Japan’ is an island country in East Asia. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian mainland and stretches from the sea of Okhotsk in the north of the East China Sea and China in the southwest. The symbol that make up the nation’s name which mean, ‘sun origin’, that’s why it is called the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire consisting of more than 6,000 islands. The largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.

I have a layover in Japan for about 8 hours and I would rather go out of the airport and explore the city than staying inside the boarding gates for the whole duration of the layover. So, I have decided to get a transit visa to see Japan. Since I live in Ohio, I have to check online where I can lodge my application. I found out that I have to send my requirements and paper application to Consulate  General of Japan in Detroit, Michigan. Here are the following documents that I needed to mail:

  1. Valid Passport
  2. Visa Application Form
  3. One Passport-sized Photo to be attached to the Application Form
  4. Proof of Current Address in the States of Michigan or Ohio
  5. Proof of Legal Residency Status in the US
  6. Documentation Necessary to Enter the country after Japan
  7. Flight Itinerary
  8. Release of Liability
  9. Self-addressed envelop with tracking system

Since the Philippines and Japan have a travel agreement, thus, Filipinos don’t have to pay for visa fees if they stay in Japan less than 30 days. Another additional requirements are if your stay exceeds one night, you have to provide itinerary in Japan and bank statement.

I mailed my application on the 18th of September and the consulate called me on the 21st, telling me that I got the transit visa to visit the country. I received my passport with the visa pasted on one of the pages on the 25th of the same month. The whole application was fast. Now, my bags are packed to travel and I’m ready to have a transit trip to Tokyo.

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Sparkling Korea! ‘Seoul’

South Korea has been on my favorite list of countries to travel. I’ve been dreaming about it for the main reason that I’ve been hooked with Korean drama series on TV way back before I left the Philippines. It even made to the point that I was studying their language and on how to write the Korean alphabet. I did a lot of research and back in 2013, I went to South Korea Consulate to ask if it’s allowed to submit a Visa application thru them but unfortunately, they don’t and it should be done thru South Korean Embassy which is in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila. But this time, I got the opportunity to visit the country  since I got a Korean entry visa easily using my permanent resident status in t he United States. Its travel slogan before was used to be Sparkling Korea which really stuck in my head but since it took me almost half a decade to get there, so, now, I am calling my trip, Sparkling Korea! Seoul.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea. Seoul is by far the country’s largest city and one of East Asia’s financial and cultural epicenters. The city has a fascinating blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology. It is also home to endless street food vendors, lively vast nightlife districts, and extraordinarily high-pressure educational system and serene Buddhist temples. Indeed Seoul is a city filled with stark contrasts. With its contrasts, Seoul has a long history of dynasty. It is widely visible on well kept temples and infrastructures.

Seoul skyline

When I got the chance to set foot in Seoul, I made sure to visit the most famous tourist location and movie location too, the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest royal palace built in 1935 and served as the main palace during Joseon Dynasty. It was built about 100 years before the Forbidden City in Beijing, China was built. But it was destroyed during Korea- Japan War in 1592 and restored in 1865. The palace is still considered as being the most beautiful and grandest of all palaces in South Korea.

sk05

Gyeongbokgung palace is wide and huge. It may take almost  a day to totally tour the whole palace grounds but every halls and rooms are different and is assigned to different positions and royalties during the Joseon Dynasty. Geunjeongjeon is the main throne hall and the most photographed location of all the palace grounds and is also famous for movies and Korean TV dramas. We only stayed there for almost 2-3 hours but we were running just to cover the main history of South Korea and the said palace. The tour guide was helpful and informative but we skipped some minor details and still got the chance to ask questions. After we were done in Gyeongbukgong palace, the tour bus went to other popular destination, the Insa-dong.

Insa-dong

Insa-dong is a famous traditional street, lined with a large number of antique shops and folk art galleries. It is a neighborhood of the Jongno-gu district of Seoul. Insa-dong was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea and it is still now or probably one of the largest markets.

While we were Insa-dong, we were introduced to this traditional Korean restaurant. The food choices were unfamiliar to me but I chose the beef bulgogi which is a  made up of thin sliced, marinated beef grilled on a barbecue or stir-fried in a pan in home cooking. I selected it coz I have tried it before and it was delicious but that beef bulgogi I got in that Korean restaurant was amazing and more tasty and delicious. I did enjoy dining over there. After we had lunch, we went to do some souvenir shopping. It was fun and I felt the Korean vibe.

As a conclusion of my Sparkling Korea! Seoul experience, it was one of the best trips I had. It was memorable not because of the location but because one of my dreams came to reality. I didn’t expect too much when I got to Seoul, I was only wishing to set foot in one of the progressive countries of East Asia, South Korea.

Check my YouTube channel and my vlog when I was exploring South Korea.

Spring Has Sprung and Etc.

Spring is a season after winter and before summer. This season means rejuvenation, renewal or birth with most of the flowers, plants and animals on hibernation mode to become active again. Flowers bloom and animals back to hunting food in the wild, forest and even on streets. Upon seeing these and the sudden change of climate and increase of temperature, it is a good sign to be more active outdoors. Since this is a season where most people will say, spring has sprung, meaning spring is here and it is time for everyone to be more energetic and engaging to the outside world.

During winter, I was more of a homebody for most of the time and once I saw the trees having buds and the flowers about to bloom, I have decided then to come out and be more adventurous this time. When spring is mentioned, it always comes into my mind of a specific flower that blossoms during this season. It is widely popular and rare since there are only particular places in the world where it has this. It is very famous in Japan but is also indigenous in some Asian states such as Korea, China and India and they called it, Sakura in Nihongo or Cherry Blossoms.20160329_131349I really wanted to see this flowering tree blooms so, I have researched where I can find it here in the United States since I can’t just flew to Japan to see it. There were a lot of locations within the U.S where you can find them. The most popular cherry blossom destination is in Washington, D.C in Tidal Basin and they also celebrate it as National Cherry Blossom Festival. Second area would be in Northern Philadelphia. Yet both locations I can’t go to since it is more than 8 hours travel from my place. But, it didn’t stop me from doing more research. Then one day, a picture popped out when I typed in Ohio cherry blossom and it says the location is in the south part of the state. It is located specifically in a school campus in Athens, Ohio along the bike path with the view of the Hocking river. It will only take me an hour and half drive to get to Athens so, off I go. I got to Ohio University  at noon. It was a lil chilly but it didn’t bother me. The school campus was ginormous, they have their own golf course, stadium and lots of school buildings and apartments.

Golf Course

Golf Course

School Buildings

School Buildings

Bobcat Stadium

Bobcat Stadium

But I was not there to see the school. I was there to see ‘sakura‘. I walked the bike path for about 20 mins since I parked my car near the golf course. And finally, I saw these lovely trees.20160329_13080120160329_131047 20160329_131314 20160329_131329 20160329_131226After seeing it, my spring is complete.

While I was driving back home, I have thought of doing some side trips. I usually utilised the back roads passing thru McConnelsville. There is this one park in McConnelsville in State Route 78 that is considered a tourist attraction. They called it the Big Muskie’s Bucket. It is within Miner’s Memorial Park.

Miners Memorial Park Historical Marker

Miners Memorial Park Historical Marker

As what it says on the marker,

Miner’s Memorial Park
Agriculture dominated the economy of southestern Ohio’s Morgan County until the 1940s when harvests dwindled, the population declined, and land values dropped. Surface mining the area’s rich underground coal deposits replaced agriculture as the major industry and revitalised the declining local economy. As the nation’s demand for electricity grew over the next half-century, so did the demand for coal as fuel for nearby power generation plants. During mining’s heyday in the 1960s to the late 1980s, American Electric Power’s former Central Ohio Coal Company subsidiary employed nearly 1,000 people. Nearby communities — such as Cumberland, Caldwell and Chandlersville — thrived. As time passed, however, the robust coal industry was hit hard by environmental regulations that reduced the market for the area’s high sulfur coal. In turn, mine work forces shrank considerably and local businesses closed.

20160404_123607The centerpiece of Miners Memorial Park is the Big Muskie’s Bucket. The story behind it is ‘Big Muskie’ was once the world’s largest earth moving machine. It was built in 1969 and could move 39 million pounds of earth and rock every hour, revealing rich coals in southeastern Ohio. The Big Muskie could swing its boom for 600 feet and weighed 13,500 tons. In 1990s, when power demands and other factors convinced the owners to shut it down and was then salvaged for metal scraps by mid-1999. What remains today is a monstrous metal bucket. The bucket sits on a rise, overlooking the valley that it once mined.

Big Muskie

Big Muskie: Turning Coal to Power

What is left, the Big Muskie's Bucket

What is left, the Big Muskie’s Bucket

Big Muskie's Bucket

Big Muskie’s Bucket

Since we mentioned power, the next destination after I visited Big Muskie’s Bucket was just around my town, Caldwell . It is located in Highway 78 East of town at the junction of Hwy 564, you will find a small park on the southeast corner paralleling Hwy 78. It is named as the Thorla-McKee Well.

Thorla-McKee Well Historical Marker

Thorla-McKee Well Historical Marker

As what the marker says,

Salt was an important commodity to early settlers because of its use in daily living. In 814, Silas Thorla and Robert McKee dug a well in search of salt brine. They discovered salt and by accident, discovered oil. Oil’s value was unknown to them so they had to separate the oil from the salt water by soaking the oil up from the surface with blankets. The oil was wrung from the blankets, bottled as ‘Seneca Oil’ and sold as a ‘cure all’. The remaining brine was boiled down to extract the salt.

To expound the story, it was then said both Silas Thorla and Robert McKee noticed a deer was licking a spot on the ground and figured that it might lead to an underground pool of salt brine. They, then, drilled a well, lined with hollowed-out logs looking for salt. Salt was important in preserving meat during long winter months and also livestock needed salt. They did find salt brine but it was fouled with oil. They tried to separate the oil from the salt brine thru blankets wringing out the oil as nuisance since oil wasn’t of much use in 1810s. The oil was put into bottles and sold as a digestive elixir, Seneca Oil.

Thorla-McKee Well

Thorla-McKee Well

By the time that oil became really valuable in America, Thorla and McKee were long dead. This well by accident is what the local chamber of commerce calls the ‘first oil well in America’ nowadays.

The First Oil Well in America

The First Oil Well in America

Visitors can still visit this place in a small park in Caldwell with a wheel less caboose near the parking area and the historical marker. But unlike the chamber of commerce, it only ventures to call it the ‘Thorla-McKee Well’.

Ohio Historical Marker

Ohio Historical Marker

Wheel-Less Caboose

Wheel-Less Caboose

Articles Way Back Then

Articles Way Back Then

Indeed, spring is here. The sun is shining but since I am in Ohio, sometimes snow just falls from the sky which is not unusual. So far for my spring travels, I’ve got to see these places whether it snows, rains or the sun shines. As long as a traveler enjoys his travels, then, that is acceptable, may it be spring has sprung and etc.