Is Japan Open for Tourism Now?

Let’s face it the pandemic has been a real party pooper for us frequent travelers. We’re wrapping up three long years of canceled flights postponed trips and uncertain itineraries.  As much as we’re all chomping at the bit to dust off our suitcases and jet set around the world, COVID has made traveling a bit more complicated. And when it comes to Japan, things are no different. So – is Japan open for tourism? Short answer? Yes! But before you start fantasizing about sushi, sakura, yakitori and karaoke, let’s talk about the entry requirements to enter Japan.

Current Travel Restrictions in Japan

Ladies and gents, the wait is FINALLY over. After what has felt like a lifetime of strict restrictions, Japan has finally opened up its doors to foreign visitors once again. As of October 2022, Japan reopened its borders to international tourists. We could not be more pumped.

Before you book your flight, there are a few things you need to know before you go. While Japan is finally open for business, there’s still some strict entry requirements in place that you’ll need to follow. Depending on where you’re coming from, this may consist of; providing proof of vaccination, taking COVID-19 tests, or adhering to quarantine measures if necessary. You can see the absolute latest, as of today, on Japan’s Ministry of Health website.

With Japan open to tourism, vistas like Mt. Fuji with a pagoda in the foreground are back within reach!
Photo by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash

Navigating Japan’s Entry Requirements

So, you’ve done it. You decided to take the plunge and book your trip to Japan. Congrats! It’s one of my favorite countries on this planet, and you will have a fantastic time. But before you start packing your bags let’s talk about what you need to know to get across the border in the first place.

First things first, do you need a visa? Depending on where your passport was issued, you may need to apply for a visa in advance. Don’t worry – it’s not nearly as complicated as it seems. Just make sure you check the requirements for your specific country of origin ahead of time. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to apply in case there are things you need to do in advance. Most countries don’t require a visa, but a handful like Russia, Vietnam, Philippines, and China do. As, of course, the state of the world is constantly changing these days, you can see the latest list at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.

Second, the elephant in the room, COVID-19. Japan takes the pandemic and the safety of their citizens very very seriously, as evidenced by them not opening borders until just recently. You’ll need to provide proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test before you are stamped into the country. As rules and regulations around the pandemic are constantly evolving, please be sure to check the latest official requirements before you go.

Last but not least, let’s talk quarantine. depending on where you are coming from you may need to quarantine upon arrival in Japan. If you have traveled through or are coming from certain countries, it might be a mandatory quarantine. It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but hey it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of visiting this amazing country.  See Japan’s most current list of countries with a quarantine requirement at Japan’s official site here.

Long story short, Is Japan open to tourism? Yes! But navigating the entry requirements to Japan might seem a bit of a hassle. Just make sure to do your homework ahead of time. Pack plenty of hand sanitizer and a few masks and be ready to roll with the punches. Remember that a little bit of  advance planning can make your travel days much, much smoother.

With Japan open to tourists again, the tight bar alleys in Japan's cities provide a cozy, local experience.
Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

While You’re in Japan…

So, you’ve made it to Japan! You’re about to soak up all the sites the sounds and drown yourself in the most delicious Ramen you’ve ever eaten in your life. Before you’re too caught up in all the excitement, let me arm you with some information on how to stay safe and healthy while you are there.

First and foremost, as I mentioned before, COVID-19 is still very much a thing in Japan. So ,make sure you’re taking all of the necessary precautions to keep yourself and everyone around you safe and healthy. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.

In Case of Emergency…

Japan has a very robust healthcare system with some of the top doctors in the world. Fortunately, it is easily accessed by residents, expats, and visitors alike. Simply ask someone in your hotel for the closest medical facility. You could also consult the “search medical institutions” page on Japan’s tourism agency website.

Stay Informed and Stay Flexible

So we’ve covered a lot of ground on this post, but my key takeaway here is to stay informed and stay flexible. The situation is constantly involving, so with that in mind it’s super important to keep up on current events the latest news and guidelines. Keep an eye on the official government websites, have a chat with your travel agent or tour operator prior to leaving, and be prepared to pivot if necessary. That might mean changing your travel dates, adjusting your itinerary, or even canceling your trip all together. It’s not what any of us hopes will happen, but it is better than risking your health or getting stuck in a quarantine nightmare. 

The good news is, Japan is open to tourism, and it’s totally worth whatever hoops needed. Japan is an absolutely amazing country with rich, incredible history, unbelievable food, and a vibrant culture. With the right planning and precautions, you’ll get there in a breeze, and have the trip of a lifetime. Happy traveling (and have a bowl of ramen for me)!

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