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How to Travel in Japan as a Tourist from Summer 2022

⏱ 8 minutes

Tourists have been allowed again in Japan since June 10, but under very specific conditions.

Given Japan’s poor communication and the last months’ ever-changing requirements, it seems that the gradual tourism resumption framework is somehow unclear or blurred by older measures. We thus summarized what travelers need to know to take a trip in Japan this summer 2022 and after, under the current requirements.

Students, businesspeople and residents’ relatives whose situations fall under other requirements since March are out of the scope of this article that will only focus on tourists.

📝 General requirements

During his visit in London in early May, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promised the reopening of the borders in line with the other G7 countries for June.

Technically, tourists are indeed allowed entry to Japan, but there are specific requirements as explained below:

🛃 Daily entry cap

Since June 1rst, a maximum of 20,000 persons can enter in Japan per day. The number is expected to gradually raise (a 30,000 daily cap from July 1rst was contemplated but unfortunately not implemented).

However, it is not really something to worry about.

The limit is indeed on the number of slots allotted to the airlines landing every day in the archipelago. If you bought a flight ✈️ to Japan, you may land anyway.

That is to say, provided you can find an affordable flight this summer, given the lengthening of flight duration consequence of the war in Ukraine, the flaring up of the kerosene prices due to the worldwide inflation, the staff shortage…and strikes that may occasionally disturb the beginning of the vacations’ period.

📄 Getting a tourist visa

Since March 2020, touristic trips reciprocity in the visa waiver program agreements with several countries in the world has been suspended by Japan, something that the European Union has been recently holding against the country. Even so, Japan resumed visa issuance for tourism purpose from 2022, June 10.

However, a travel agency based in Japan must act as a sponsor for any touristic trip. The agency must declare each of their travelers beforehand through the Japanese immigration’s ERFS system, in order to get a PDF authorization called "UketsukeZumisho".

Then, prospective travelers must go -generally in person – to their nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate with the following documents to apply for a visa:

  • This filled-in form;
  • An ID photo;
  • Their passport;
  • The "UketsukeZumisho" authorization received from the travel agency;
  • Cash to pay the visa fee; and,
  • A lot of patience (the wait can last several hours even with an appointment).

Naturally, the documents list is non-exhaustive and details for application are to be checked with the Japanese Embassy or Consulate in your area. Make sure to book your appointment as soon as possible as the earliest date available may be scheduled several weeks later.

Afterwards, the passport stamped with a tourist visa is usually returned in about 5 working days (timelines may vary depending on the area).

🏥 Health insurance

Travelers must subscribe to their own health insurance that must cover medical costs in case of hospitalization due to a severe form of Coronavirus 🦠.

Many clients who pay at least a part of their reservation with a bank card 💳 (especially the "Gold" or "Premier" holders) may already have such a coverage, but each traveler is advised to check the conditions of their insurance contract.

If not covered, subscribing to a third-party insurance is mandatory and fortunately not that expensive. Kanpai suggests several reliable companies here:

👃 PCR test before departure

In the same way as to travel in many other countries in the world, it is still mandatory for travelers aged 6 years and older to get a negative Covid test before departure, regardless of their vaccination status.
The test must be made at the earliest 72 hours before the departure of the flight for Japan.

Important notice : you must fill in this specific certificate and submit it to the Japanese immigration (a physician’s signature or a laboratory stamp are not necessary anymore to validate it).

💉 No mandatory vaccine or quarantine

Japan includes the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (98 countries in total) in its blue countries list.
Therefore, travelers who stayed in these countries during the 14 days-period prior to their arrival on the archipelago do not need to be vaccinated to enter the country. Moreover, they don’t need to be quarantined.

If your country happened to be downgraded to the yellow countries list (which is not impossible considering the recent BA4/BA5 variants wave, even if Portugal went through it without being demoted from the blue countries), only triple-vaccinated travelers would be exempted of quarantine. For the others, 3 to 7 days of isolation in a hotel 🏨 could be required depending on the results of a PCR test after 3 days.

📲 App to download

Each traveler arriving in Japan must have their own smartphone 📱 and download the Japanese government’s app "MySOS".

The "Fast Track" system has the additional advantage to fill personal information beforehand in MySOS such as:

  • Passport number;
  • Vaccination certificate, and more importantly;
  • A negative test certificate.

It helps save time with the arrival procedures at the airport: Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Nagoya-Chubu, Osaka-Kansai, Fukuoka, and recently Naha (Okinawa), Sapporo New Chitose (Hokkaido), Sendai, Hiroshima and Takamatsu.

The renting of a Pocket Wi-Fi to be permanently connected to the internet 📶 in Japan is all the more necessary.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Group Individual travel

That is the most confusing point. From May 24 to June 4, the Japanese government conducted test package-group tours from various countries, but this test period is now over.

There is no limit (minimum or maximum) anymore regarding the number of travelers: you can travel alone, in couple, with family or friends, regardless of the number of travelers.

Entering a package group tour is not mandatory! Some travel agencies may offer this kind of service to compensate for the shortage of guides or to make the cost of the guide more affordable (see below) but it is not a condition required by the Japanese government.

🚶 Package tour Free travel

In the same vein, it is not necessary for your trip to have a pre-determined itinerary. As a matter of fact, only the first hotel must be indicated when applying for a visa. The Japanese immigration doesn’t require to know the travel itinerary beforehand.

Moreover, the whole country is accessible to sightseeing and there is no longer any prefecture restriction.

You can book your flights and hotels yourself (not necessarily through an agency) and you can naturally benefit from the famous JR Pass to travel in Japan at an affordable price.

The itinerary is not planned with compulsory visits or schedules to follow! If a travel agency tries to impose such travel and if it does not suit you, feel free to check other travel agents.

😷 Face mask and sanitary guidelines

While wearing a face mask 😷 outdoor is not recommended anymore in Japan since May 14, most of the Japanese population is still wearing it.

As for tourists, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization and Health Minister's guidelines, the mask must always be worn indoor (unless you can keep your distances and do not need to speak!) and outdoor only if you need to speak to someone standing within a 2 meters radius.

Of course, travelers must respect all the other sanitary recommendations (such as washing hands frequently and keeping social distance). It is also recommended to avoid places that are too crowded and the rush hours in transports and restaurants.

🙇🏻 Mandatory guide

In addition to providing the authorization for requesting a tourist visa (see above), the Japanese travel agency is the guarantor of your abiding to these guidelines.

Consequently, each "group" (from 1 traveler) must be permanently escorted by a tour-guide, including during meals. Its means that there is no leeway for an autonomous trip, except in the hotel room (naturally), and at the onsen ♨️.

The guide must keep records of the visits, transports and restaurants used every day may the Japanese immigration request a reporting in the event of a Covid case.

Naturally, this responsibility and the large working hours of the guide (without any day-off) generates very expensive rates, usually amounting to several hundred dollars per day.

The ideal is to book through an English-speaking agency with its own subsidiary in Japan, and working with their own guides, such as Keikaku.

Considering their very limited number, few guides are still available, especially for the traditional touristic peak season.

🗾 When will these restrictions end?

That is THE question in everybody’s mind… to which nobody can answer yet. It is very difficult to find any logic in the decision-making process when taking into account the choices made over the past 2 years.

July 10th’s parliamentary elections are likely key to the evolution of the situation, but it is unrealistic to expect any easing for the next weeks to come.

Want to know when Japan will reopen its borders to free individual travelers? Subscribe to Kanpai’s Newsletter and get information on real time:

It is highly probable that the system implemented on June 10th will stay in place at least for a few more weeks.

Depending on the evolution of the sanitary, economic and diplomatic conditions as well as domestic and international pressures, an easing can reasonably be envisioned in autumn 🍁: between September (for the very optimistic prevision) and December, the more pessimistic forecast being the first half of 2023.

Fumio Kishida indeed explained on June 24 to aim at opening "as soon as possible" but without being able to guarantee a reopening before the end of 2022…

In the week following the implementation of these measures, only 1,300 authorization requests were made to the Japanese immigration. Many agencies have been taken aback and have been gradually organizing the trips for summer and autumn.
Anyone is free to enjoy this possibility to go (again) to Japan after 27 months of complete closure to tourism, or to wait without knowing until when these restrictions will last.

What is certain however, is that those who have the motivation and the budget to travel in the next months will both benefit from a historically low Yen 💴 (and consequently a high purchase power in Japan, that partially compensates the additional cost for the guide) and a travel exclusivity that will not happen again anytime soon!

Updated on July 07, 2022 - Comment faire pour voyager au Japon en tant que touriste cet été 2022