Japan Reopens to Visa-free Individual Tourism From October 11, 2022!
More than 2 years and a half!
The Japanese archipelago was closed to foreign tourists during more than 30 months / nearly 1,000 days: an unheard-of situation, especially for such a long time, that frustrated travelers and weakened many tour operators and travel agencies.
However, the wait is closing to the end: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on September 22 from New York that visa-free individual tourism in Japan will resume from October 11, 2022. As usual, the country took its time to act; it is one of the latest countries in the world to reopen its borders to tourism, and the very last (and late) of the G7.
Let’s review all the aspects involved by this long-awaited good news!
🎌 When will Japanese borders will reopen to visa-free tourism?
Traveling in Japan without constraint as a tourist is possible from October 11, 2022.
The Japanese government has been working on a borders reopening schedule since April 27 to help revive the economy. The reopening to tourism was very slow and gradual, but there are not any constraint anymore and anyone can travel freely to Japan.
Who can travel to Japan?
Anyone, regardless of citizenship, can go to Japan.
Most of people in the world regardless their citizenship can be admitted in Japan, but only nationals from the blue countries list can do so without constraint. This list is quite large, with 128 countries, including Canada and the United States for example.
For the other colors (yellow and red), some restrictions still apply, such as vaccination / PCR test before traveling, and quarantine upon arrival.
🛂 Is a visa required to enter the Japanese territory
No, getting a tourism visa is not mandatory anymore from October 11, 2022 : a valid passport is enough for any stay shorter than 3 months with touristic purpose.
Tourist visa had been reintroduced on June 2022 and it was necessary to get sponsorship by a travel agent.
From October 11, the visa waiver system between Japan and 68 other countries in the world is restored. From this date on, it will be possible again to stay up to 90 days in Japan, without tedious paperwork at the Embassy or the Consulate: you will just have your passport stamped upon arrival in Japan.
💉 Is Covid vaccine required?
No, being vaccinated against Covid is not mandatory to enter in Japan.
Regardless of the number of vaccine doses you received, you are likely to be admitted in Japan. However, if you got your 3 shots, you will be exempted from doing a PCR test before flying.
Note that having been infected by Covid does not count as a vaccine dose!
Vaccines recognized in Japan are:
- Comirnaty (Pfizer)
- Spikevax (Moderna)
- Vaxzeveria (AstraZeneca)
- Jcovden (Janssen)
- Nuvaxovid (Novavax)
- Covaxin (Bharat Biotech)
👩🔬 Is a Covid PCR test mandatory?
A negative PCR test shortly before arrival is required only for travelers who did not get three vaccine doses.
The Japanese immigration asks travelers to prove they don’t have Covid-19. Travelers must submit this completed form after doing a PCR test (with a swab in the nose) within 72 hours / 3 days before departure and getting a negative result. However, people who received 3 vaccine shots don’t need to do a PCR test.
PCR testing upon arrival in Japan has been scrapped since June 2022, greatly improving the procedures for leaving the airport.
Only Chinese citizens or people who transited by China in the 7 days prior their trip to Japan must do a Covid test upon arrival in the archipelago (and a 7-days quarantine if the test comes out positive).
🧒 What about PCR tests / vaccines for minor children?
Minor children don’t need to be vaccinated, and in some cases can be exempted of PCR test.
In mid-September, the Japanese Ministry of Health provided information about babies / children / teenagers traveling to Japan:
- If the underage child enters in Japan with a parent who got their 3 doses, then the child is also considered being fully vaccinated, even if they are not. The negative PCR test before flying is therefore not required.
- If a child under 6 years old enters in Japan with a parent who did not get their 3 shots, but do have a negative PCR test, then the child is also considered having a negative PCR test, even if they haven’t done it.
In every other cases, the underage child must either prove that they have received 3 vaccine doses, or provide a negative PCR test made less than 72 hours prior to departure to Japan.
🏨 Is there a quarantine for tourists arriving in Japan?
No, there is no mandatory quarantine or self-isolation after landing in Japan.
It is therefore possible to:
- Stay a few days to visit Tokyo before going to Hakone, Kyoto or in any other prefecture in Japan,
- Take the Shinkansen bullet train directly after landing thanks to the JR Pass, or,
- Just make a stopover at the airport to hop on a domestic flight.
In short, tourists are free as birds as soon as arrival!
🔢 Is there a daily cap for travelers?
No, there is no more entry daily cap in Japan.
Since March 2020, Japan has implemented a daily cap for overseas visitors, that reached 50,000 in September. From October 11, there will be no daily entry cap in the archipelago.
For reference, in 2019, the last "norma" year before Covid, the Japanese territory welcomed on average ~140,000 daily entries, including ~87,000 foreign visitors (~80% were from Asia : ~25% China, ~19% South Korea and ~14% Taiwan).
🧍 Is it mandatory to take part to a package group tour?
No, package group tours were just part of a single test in spring 🌸 2022.
This test was conducted only for a few days overlapping the end of May and early June 2022.
📋 Is a travel insurance mandatory?
Yes, but most of travelers already have one.
Travelers must be covered by their own health insurance. This service is offered to Visa or Mastercard clients with purchases in connection to the trip (flights tickets, accommodation…) made with a bank card 💳, especially if it is a "Gold" / "Premier".
Naturally, you may want to purchase a cancellation insurance:
📱 Do I need to install a specific app to enter in Japan?
No, this obligation was lifted in October 2022.
During Covid, the Japanese government required overseas visitors to install on their smartphone 📱:
- MySOS to register information regarding vaccine / PCR test prior to arrival and save time at the airport in Japan ("fast track" system);
- COCOA for contact cases tracing, but the app was discontinued in September 2022.
It is however recommended to register through Visit Japan Webto save time upon arrival in Japan.
As many Wi-Fi hot-spots have disappeared due to the Covid period, it is all the more useful to book a Pocket Wi-Fi in advance to make sure to always have an unlimited high-speed access to the internet 📶 during your trip:
🤒 Is there a body temperature check upon arrival in Japan?
No, this mesure was discontinued before the first easing to tourists at the end of spring.
A health center for foreign tourists is based in Tokyo, and is the reference if a question or problem arised (fever, Coronavirus 🦠 symptoms...)
😷 Is masking mandatory in Japan?
Generally no, but some places may require their visitors to do so.
On a legal basis, wearing a face mask 😷 is not mandatory in Japan. However, in the wake of the reopening, the government allowed hotels 🏨 to refuse customers who would not wear a mask at their premises.
Regardless, wearing a face covering is akin to a social duty in the archipelago. Many Japanese wear one permanently, even in the outdoors. Thus, the Japanese government published a document to sum up all the situations where wearing a mask was a necessity. In addition, many places (temples, shops, etc.) require that people wear a mask on their grounds.
Therefore, wearing a face mask as often as possible is not required but socially desirable, especially when indoor.
🗾 Are there prefectures or places that are off-limits?
No, Japan’s whole territory is opened to travelers.
There is no geographical restriction for traveling in Japan, and the Japan Rail pass is still a convenient asset:
🏥 Is it safe to travel in Japan in 2022 and 2023 with the Coronavirus?
Yes, Japan is one of the countries that best resisted against the Coronavirus. It is way safer to travel in Japan than in many other places in the world.
The spreading was contained since the beginning of the pandemic. With only 34 deceased for 100,000 inhabitants, the Japanese succeeded in protecting themselves thanks to basic precautionary measures:
- The widespread use of sanitary face masks;
- The natural social distancing; and,
- An unparalleled civic-minded attitude.
Moreover, Japan benefits from a solid and modern health system that can treat with great care the severe forms of Covid, as well as any other disease.
From May 8, 2023, the Coronavirus will be downgraded from Category II to a Category V disease, like the seasonal flu. Which likely means:
- No more PCR Test required to enter Japan;
- No more indoor face mask mandate;
- No more sudden border closure.
❌ Are there places still closed in Tokyo or anywhere else?
No, everything is open as Japan has been resuming usual activities for a long time.
While there has been no lock-down in Japan, some museums or themed parks did close for a few weeks in spring 2020. Events (conventions, matsuri, sports competitions) may have been canceled, aired on line only, or postponed. We have a list of places closed at the moment, but most closures are not related to Covid anymore.
Now, the only difference with 2019 and the previous years are:
- Wearing a face mask is sometimes mandatory to enter some places;
- Staff may (seldom) take people’s temperature with a no-touch thermometer at the entrance of shops;
- Hand sanitizer is often freely available.
But this measures are certainly not specific to Japan.
🙇🏻 Are Japanese people welcoming to foreigners?
Yes, Japanese people have an unparalleled hospitality culture.
In Japanese, there is the concept of omotenashi and it encompasses the idea of welcoming the other in a broader sense. Moreover, the tourism industry has greatly suffered since March 2020, as well as the Japanese economy, all the more with the recent inflation.
Many Japanese are eager to welcome back tourism on their country.
💣 What is the impact of the war in Ukraine on the trip to Japan?
Direct flights last 2 more hours.
Since February 2022 and the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s airspace is off-limits to airways flying to Japan. Flights must travel by the southern route, which lengthen the flight ✈️ duration for a total 14~15 hours for a direct flight (with Air France, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways).
Japanese airways’ suspended connections with Europe (except for London), resumed in early may. Other companies, like Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, are not impacted as they were already using the southern route.
💴 Is it more costly to travel to Japan after Covid?
Yes, unfortunately, due to several factors.
The budget for a trip to Japan increased due to:
- More expensive flight tickets, due to kerosene costs, longer routes and the rule of supply / demand;
- Accommodation also rose their prices to compensate the low revenues since March 2020.
However, the Yen 💴 has been very weak for a few months compared to Euro and Dollar, which results in unexpected advantages for international travelers in Japan on services such as:
- The must-have to order before departure: transportation Passes and Pocket Wi-Fi;
- Private guides: airport guidance and / or bilingual private tours in cities or on excursions;
- Tickets and admissions to temples, museums and other places to visit;
Now is the good moment to buy Yens before going to Japan.
⚠️ How to postpone an already booked travel?
If your travel was scheduled by October 2022 included, you may need to postpone it.
Do not wait to secure new holiday dates as many travelers are in the same situation:
- If you booked everything by yourself: you must contact each service provider (airway, accommodation, guide, etc.) to modify every items in your plan, with modification fees to pay;
- If you booked a full travel with a travel agent: just contact them to change the dates and the agency will take care of all the modifications for you, usually without additional fee (unless you want to lengthen the trip, upgrade or add services).
✈️ How to plan a post-Covid travel to Japan?
It is possible to organize a trip to Japan alone or with a specialized travel agency.
If you have time but a limited budget, you can prepare your travel in Japan by yourself, especially if you use our many articles on Kanpai.
However, the experience from the last 2 years and a half has proved that travelers who prepared their holidays alone had a harder time to postpone or cancel their trip.
While it might be a little bit more expensive, reaching out to a Japan-specialized travel agency offers a greatly enjoyable peace of mind as you hire an expert of the destination who will take care of everything:
- Understanding your needs;
- Organizing and booking according to what you want;
- Postponing if necessary, with no additional charge; and,
- Support if any problem arises.
It also helps supporting the tourism industry, that was one of the hardest hit by Covid on economic level, but also the local economy as any good Japan-specialized travel agency is working with sister companies in the archipelago.