If getting a visa every few years is painful, or you want to do work beyond the status (like ENGINEER) allocated, you have been around for 10 years (average) in Japan, need a home loan, getting a Permanent Resident status in Japan might be an option to consider.
Last year I completed 15 years in Japan, but was still on work visa. My initial discussions with my friends gave me an impression of a long process with endless documents to create, but I believe that the process is actually simpler than what I heard. One of my friend at my company inspired me to apply for a Permanent Resident status and he helped me with things to prepare for which I am sharing here. I got my PR in a cool two and a half months (varies from application to application though) and hope that the below content is helpful if you plan to apply too.
 DISCIPLINE TO PREPARE : Well you need to make a few documents but honestly I did not think that was much of a pain. If you discipline yourself to do one to two documents everyday, you can get this done in 1-2 weeks time all ready for your application. See the table below as a checklist (or download an Excel here)
Prepare each step by step, two per day and you should be good in 6-7 days. The only documents which take time are usually the Guarantor ones which depend on the schedule and availability of your guarantor.
 EASY TO USE DOCUMENT SAMPLES : Documents which you will need to prepare I am enclosing some formats which might be helpful. Download from below links. Using these formats the process was a breeze.
[a] FAMILY DETAILS (link to download)
[b] ADDRESS DETAIL(link to download)
[c] GUARANTOR FORM(link to download)
[d] APPLICATION FORM(link to download)
 CONSIDER A PERMANENT RESIDENT AS A GUARANTOR (Friend in need is a friend indeed) : Either a Japanese colleague or a non-Japanese who is a Permanent Resident can be a guarantor. The Guarantor will need to fill in a form and provide his Gen-sen-Chou-Shuu-Hyou (witholding tax slip) and resident certificate. This is something which is delicate since the guarantor needs to provide these rather sensitive documents, so in many ways its about discovering your “real” friend. Friend in need is a friend indeed!
My own experience, two Japanese friends who politely refused, and an Indian permanent resident friend who instantly agreed, no questions asked!
Sample of Guarantor Document
Sample of Family details document REASON LETTER : ALWAYS GET IT REVIEWED BY A JAPANESE NATIONAL
An applicant needs to write a reason letter which should give the background like you are settled here, have a steady job, will be staying here for long term and have been contributing to the Japanese society (any contributions at work, socially etc.). Ensure that you necessarily get it reviewed by a Japanese national. Your Japanese friends should be able to help you out in that even though they may have politely declined to be the guarantor, right?
PR status is a simple and straight forward process and hope you too are successful with your application and get your resident card with the status as below “永住者” or Permanent Resident. All the best.