Update 23/09/2022

It has been announced by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida that further easing of restrictions will take place on October 11th 2022.  At which point:

  • The daily visitor limit will be removed entirely. 
  • There will be visa free travel.
  • No need for guided tours or the need to book through a travel agency.

These three steps signal the end of restrictions set out by the coronavirus some two and a half years ago. One thing to be aware of however, is the need for Covid vaccinations, of which three doses is required.

Much of the information below will now be out of date, yet some specifics of the new policy is currently less clear. To that end if you plan on travelling to Japan following this announcement I would still recommend taking masks and observing social distancing which is still widespread in Japan.

The beginning of the end?

June the 10th marked the day that many people have been waiting for — Japan reopening its borders. 

It’s been two years since Japan closed its doors to the rest of the world, triggered by the global Covid-19 pandemic. and is one of the very last countries to relax its entry rules for foreign nationals wishing to visit the country. The Japanese government has increased Japan’s limit of overseas visitors from 10,000 a day to 20,000 as well as releasing the requirements that will allow tourists to visit. 

Before we all get too excited; this is not a complete ’open door’ policy. You can’t just decide to book a flight for tomorrow and be on your way as perhaps you may have done prior to Covid.

As such, almost two weeks have passed since the fateful date arrived and not many tourists have reported to have made the journey. There is still an element of uncertainty in the air regarding Japanese travel and perhaps a little confusion to what the requirements and guidelines actually consist of.

But fear not as — after some lengthy research — I can break it down into some simple terms:

Requirements and procedures

Prerequisite 

Anyone who has resided in what Japan deems a ‘blue’ listed country for 14 days prior to traveling to Japan is permitted. The UK is listed as a ‘blue’ country. 

Before arrival

      • You must book a guided package tour; meaning, no free-roaming around the country; you must be accompanied at all times. 
      • You must apply for a visa. Start the process with the travel company who will apply for a certificate of registration. Then use that to apply for a visa (gone are the days of the special 3 month visa-less travel)
      • You must have appropriate Travel Insurance. Insurance that specifically covers Covid eventualities.
      • You must take a Covid test Within 72 hours before departure.
      • Preferably install the ‘MySOS’ app to register results and details for a smoother arrival procedure in Japan.

On arrival

      • You must sign and acknowledge Japan’s document on following coronavirus guidelines whilst in Japan. 

(here is where you will get conflicted information elsewhere) 

      • You will not need to take a Covid test or quarantine in Japan if you’re from a ‘Blue’ list country AND ONLY IF all ‘before arrival’ procedures are completed 

In Japan

      • Face masks must be worn at all times. Even outdoors
      • You must keep social distancing. 
      • You must remain with the tour guides at all times.

Much of this information is taken from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Further easing

After an initial trial period on May 24th that allowed visitors from just four countries to partake on fully supervised tours, June 10th is the second step to a full Japan reopening. It has been rumoured that further easing of restrictions will occur in late July with the potential of seeing some form of normal practice by the end of the year — assuming cases don’t spike once more and the government’s plans hold up.

If you have been eagerly awaiting a trip to Japan for the last two years (maybe more) it’s certainly possible to finally have that opportunity. However, the current restrictions could be quite limiting; if you have waited this long already, perhaps waiting a couple of more months may see further improvement, allowing the kind of trip you’ve dreamed of rather than a slice that’s missing something special. 

Maybe the great Japan reopening is just around the corner.

Nathan