Japan is one of the most unique travel destinations in the world and well worth the time and effort required to get there. Flying Space-A to Japan is an incredible opportunity that makes the possibility of visiting this beautiful country very realistic. Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip.
If you are new to Space-A flying, read this Quickstart Guide to Space-A Flights first to get a basic understanding of how the process works.
1. The CONUS passenger terminals with the most Space-A flights to Japan are Travis Air Force Base and Seattle Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport
From SeaTac, you will fly on the Patriot Express, which is a charter plane used to transport active duty families to locations in the Pacific. The Patriot Express flies directly to Japan from Seattle.
If you start at Travis, you might get a flight directly to Japan, or you may have to hop to Hawaii and/or Guam along the way.
2. When flying Space-A to Japan from the U.S., your first arrival point will most likely be Yokota Air Base (90 minutes west of Tokyo) or Kadena Air Base (on Okinawa).
From those terminals, you can hop to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni (near Hiroshima) or Misawa Air Base (in Northern Japan). You may see flights to Atsugi Naval Air Base on the schedule, but you are not authorized to take those flights unless you have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stamp in your passport.
3. You must have your passport stamped by Japanese Immigration within 24 hours of entering and leaving Japan.
When arriving from a base outside of Japan, a Military Customs Official will transport you to the Japanese Customs & Immigration Office to have your passport stamped. At Yokota, the office is just outside the base, only a block from the terminal. At Kadena, the office is about 15 minutes away. If you arrive late at night and the Customs & Immigration Office is closed, you are responsible for going there yourself the next morning.
The departure procedures at Yokota and Kadena are different. At Yokota, you must get your departure stamp before you can mark yourself present for an international flight. If you don’t get a seat or the flight is canceled, you must return to the immigration office and get a “Not Departed” stamp. You have to repeat the process the next time you want to compete for a flight.
At Kadena, you can’t get the passport stamp until you already have your boarding pass. As soon as you are manifested on a flight, you must go straight to the Japanese Customs & Immigration office so you can be back at the terminal in time for boarding.
4. Yokota has one lodging facility, The Kanto Lodge. Kadena has two on-base lodging options: The Shogun Inn and the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites (NGIS).