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My fiancee and I are in a kind of unique situation. It has been our dream ever since we were twelve years old to live in Japan. So far we've taken every step possible to make our dream come true. We have found a Japanese apartment, we are currently learning Japanese, we have even found a Japanese school in Tokyo that can accommodate my fiancee's disability. She even wants to learn up to JLPT Level 1 and Kanji Kentei Level 1.


I am currently an Engineer, aboard a research vessel and sail for about 5 to 6 months out of the year. I pull in more than enough income in those 6 months to support the two of us if we were to live in Japan. Our problem is obtaining a visa that will allow us to begin the naturalization process.

I have spoken with the Japanese Embassy in San Francisco with very little luck or sympathy. I have also contacted an immigration law firm in Tokyo and the best they could recommend was a workers visa. Unfortunately we are unable to go the student/teacher route either due to my fiancee being disabled and she's physically incapable of working or going to school full time. Although I have a Bachelors Degree I refuse to sacrifice my income to become a JET to get us to Japan. We were wondering if anyone knows of any options that would allow a foreigner with no family ties or a foreign job to live in Japan.

Thank you so much in advance for your time.
 

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I don't know if people still do this much, but a long time ago people would just leave the country and re-enter and get another 3 months on their tourist visa. You have to go far enough away for it to count though so Korea doesn't count. I think Thailand might be the closest you can do that trick.
 

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I have a similar situation - I have a steady income from my websites and don't really need to work. I am considering the student visa and also cultural visa. A Cultural visa means studying Japanese tea ceremony, Japanese arts, etc. But you need to get a sponsor which means being a serious student.

Leaving the country and getting new tourist visas may work for a while, but I don't think it's a long term solution if you want to really live here. I don't know about Japan but Thailand has a limit - you can only stay in the country for 9 months out of the year with a tourist visa. I'm sure Japan has a similar rule. It may work for you if you are out at sea for 6 months every year, but how about your wife? I don't know the rules about visas for spouses.

I talked to a company called ReloJapan.com and they were very helpful - they have an attorney that can help you figure it out.

Maybe you can get a new job with a Japan based company? The work visa is the easiest solution.

Or maybe you can come to Japan for just 3 months every year and live in 2 countries? You can live in Thailand part of the year - very nice quality of life in Bangkok or Phuket - then hop to Japan for 3 months. It's a lot of travel going back and forth though, and it gets old after a while...

Thailand, Vietnam and Japan all have 3 month tourist visas. Thailand and Vietnam are not great for handicapped people, but not impossible. Bangkok particularly is ok if you live adjacent to the Skytrain but handicapped access is not universal. Sidewalks are difficult and often nonexistent.
 
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