Even before arriving at your first Japanese port, you'll have to do PaperWork.
This is Only for your Port of Entry!
This paperwork can only be done by FAX.
No! Japan Coast Guard will not answer your initial emails. Once they know you from the FAX, email contact might be possible.
Send me a note if you like info regarding these Pre Arrival Procedures.
Then the cruising can start! Oops...just a moment:
Japan has about 150 Open Ports. These are ports where foreign ships & yachts may go without prior permission.
All the other ports you need a "cruising permit" for.
That's easy to get:
Make a list of ports with possible dates and find the office of Ministry of Transport. Each province has its office and you'll apply for that province. At your first Port of Entry you'll find that office building easy enough...Customs will inform you.
Like for us, we got our first permit in Ishigaki: Good till Okinawa. In Okinawa we got the next permit : Good till Nagasaki. In Nagasaki we got the permit till Fukuoka.
Fill out the request papers with the ever and always happy officer, who speaks enough English!
Okayokay, some of these papers are the same and you already have filled them out at an other office. And yes, he has copies of previous papers in his file...but just do it again. They luff paper.
Two days later, the Permit is ready and you can go.
Arriving at a closed port, with this permit in the chart table...No worries.
Arriving at a closed port without...... big change nobody= Customs and/or Coast Guard will show up. But if they do....very likely they will send you OUT.
And correct. ( unless there is typhoon or other problem of course...)
Now here at Fukue Port (=closed port), we were checked out by customs and Coast Guard.
Ha, see the picture: It took them 48 hours to spot us! Their office is right next to us.
Sadly enough, beside the Min of Transportation, there is zero communication between the different offices, even from the same department, so again...you have to fill out many=same papers. ( e.g., how much sugar, how much engine oil etc, where you have been and where you will go). Again, these officers usually will speak some English. And they always come with a smile.
If you have any questions, drop us a note.