There are 7 visa categories which include 27 statuses of residence. You need to apply for an appropriate visa depending on your purpose of entry into Japan.
Short-term Stays (sightseeing, convalescence, visits to relatives, friends, or acquaintances)
There are cases when a visa is not required for short-term stays. However, a passport is required and must be issued from a country or region that has visa exemption arrangements with Japan. As of October 2005 there are 62 participating countries and regions. Cases involving paid activities in Japan are excluded.
A period of stay varies with each country or region. The maximum period is 90 days but persons who have a passport issued from Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the United Kingdom can extend this period to a total of up to 6 months.
Persons holding passports issued from countries and regions that do not have visa exemption arrangements with Japan must apply for a Temporary Visitor's Visa.
Long-term Stay (working)
A person who wishes to stay long-term and be employed must apply for a working visa. The Working Visa category has 14 statuses of residence which include Investor/Business Manager, Medical Services and Intracompany Transferee.
Working Holiday Programs are designed to educate young people (18 to 30 years old) with global vision and to strengthen relationships between Japan and partner countries.
Working holiday makers are allowed to have part-time or full-time jobs to supplement their funds for travel and stay.
Working Holiday Programs are available to citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Korea, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Long-term Stay (education or training)
A person who wishes to stay long-term while training at an institute or attending high school, college or university must apply for a general visa. The General Visa category has 5 statuses of residence which include College Student and Trainee.