As borders around the world cautiously begin reopening, and international travel gradually starts to resume, an increasing number of travelers are planning post-Covid trips to Japan for later this year and next.

Japan is primed to be one of the world’s most coveted post-Covid destinations for various reasons: Japanese cuisine, gorgeous off-the-beaten-path destinations, and stunning hotels and ryokans — not to mention Japan’s wonderfully respectful people and legendary cleanliness.

If you’re ready to begin planning your bespoke Japan trip, we’re doing our best to make things as easy (and stress-free) as possible. Along with keeping close tabs on official developments, our team of Japan experts is in constant contact with our network throughout Japan, and we update this page frequently.

What You’ll Find Below:

Bamboo onsen hot springs Yufuin Kyushu Japan

Flexible Planning Policy

If you’re ready to plan and excited to get a Japan trip on the calendar, we offer built-in flexibility to help you book for the future with peace of mind.

We’re offering the flexibility to plan now, with the option to reschedule later if needed. If Covid forces a change in plans, simply let us know by thirty days before your trip’s start date, and you can reschedule with no change fees, and no lost deposits.

If you’re hoping to visit Japan later in 2021 or in 2022, we recommend planning sooner than later. Availability for the best guides and accommodations at small, charming properties is very limited (thanks to a backlog of postponed trips, plus pent-up demand).

Can You Visit Japan Now?

Not yet.

Like elsewhere in Asia and Oceania, Japan has had its borders closed to tourists since the early days of Covid.

When will travelers be allowed to enter Japan?

The exact timing remains uncertain, though the Japanese government has confirmed that foreign spectators will not be permitted to enter Japan for the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Many experts estimate that reopening could begin in the fall, though regardless of when it starts it’s expected that the process may occur in stages. For example, it’s likely that travelers from countries with relatively low Covid rates may be allowed to enter before those from higher-risk places (see Entry Requirements below).

At this time, most of of our travelers are planning ahead for trips in fall 2021, spring 2022, and beyond. (If you’re thinking of visiting and have flexible travel dates, see our guide to the seasons, weather, and when to visit Japan.)

Cherry blossoms Osaka Castle Japan

Covid-19 in Japan: What to Expect on the Ground

What’s it like in Japan now?

Daily life in Japan has been impacted by Covid as it has everywhere on Earth. However, despite the challenges, Japan has been fortunate to avoid the degree of devastation seen in places like the Americas and Europe. (Despite its massive population of 126 million people, Japan has continued to have strikingly low mortality rates.)

Like other countries, Japan has experienced fluctuating surges, and some parts of the country are currently under what is referred to as “State of Emergency.” This means some businesses, such as bars and restaurants, are being asked to close or reduce their hours temporarily to help curb the spread.

It’s worth noting that even during surges, Covid rates in Japan have tended to remain comparatively low, and Japan has also managed to avoid lockdowns as severe as those in many other nations (during most of the pandemic, many restaurants, cafes, and shops have been able to operate with a relatively high degree of normalcy).

When it comes to vaccination efforts, Japan has gotten off to a slow start for a variety of reasons. Along with particularly stringent approval processes and frustrating bureaucratic hurdles, the government and public health authorities have expressed a desire to proceed cautiously to effectively demonstrate vaccine efficacy and safety to the Japanese populace. Japan’s vaccination timeline is updated frequently, and the pace has recently begun to gradually pick up speed.

Health and safety are taken very seriously in Japan, and travelers are often amazed by how clean and organized the country is. Its deep-rooted culture of respect (an integral part of Japanese etiquette) certainly helps. So do Japan’s outstandingly high levels of hygiene and cleanliness – not to mention the fact that Japanese people have been accustomed to wearing masks for years.

As with elsewhere on Earth, over the past year travel service providers — from hotels and ryokans, to bullet trains and airlines — have invested extensively in revamping health and sanitation procedures to enhance the safety of both travelers and staff. As far as general precautions go, wherever you go in Japan it’s safe to expect widespread adherence to best practices for hygiene and sanitation. This means you’ll find virtually universal mask wearing, ubiquitous hand sanitizer, polite social distancing, etc.

Toei Oedo metro station Tokyo Japan

Post-Covid Entry Requirements to Japan

At this stage, Japan has not specified what the entry requirements for tourists will be when reopening begins.

Based on the current requirements for citizens and residents entering Japan from abroad, it seems safe to assume that a negative Covid test will be required before boarding your flight. Testing may also be done on arrival.

Measures beyond this are not yet clear, but it’s also expected that visitors may be required to install a Covid-monitoring app, though details have not yet been specified. As for whether proof of vaccination will be required, this also has yet to be determined.

In other news, ANA, one of Japan’s two major airlines (along with JAL), has begun testing the CommonPass Digital Health Passport for possible future use, and Tokyo’s two major airports (Narita and Haneda) have announced they will be introducing facial recognition for international flights to help streamline contactless travel.

Covid-19 and Travel Insurance

Does travel insurance cover Covid-19?

In short, it depends on various factors, including your travel insurance company, the policy itself, and of course your specific circumstances.

The good news is that unlike in the early days of the pandemic — when countless travelers were dismayed to learn that many insurance policies didn’t provide pandemic coverage — nowadays the majority of insurance providers do provide at least some form of coverage. This includes established insurance companies such as AIG and Allianz, along with more novel providers such as COVAC.

Coverage varies significantly by provider and policy, but examples of what may be covered include:

  • Medical coverage if you become ill with Covid during a trip
  • Insurance coverage if you can’t travel and need to cancel before departing due to Covid
  • Or even emergency evacuation

Along with companies such as the ones mentioned above, travel insurance comparison sites like SquareMouth and InsureMyTrip can be very helpful resources, and both have FAQ pages dedicated specifically to common questions regarding Covid-19 and travel insurance coverage:

Pandemic or not, we always recommend our travelers purchase comprehensive travel insurance for innumerable reasons — and for some travelers optional enhancements like “Cancel for Any Reason” (CFAR), available as an add-on to some policies, may be the best option.

This topic is notoriously convoluted, and we have a full article devoted to travel insurance, in general. For specific policy questions, we always suggest calling (or at least live-chatting with) an insurance company directly.

Panoramic view over Tokyo Japan

Planning a Future Trip to Japan

We hope this information helps you as you consider your Japan travel plans. If you’re ready to begin planning your trip please get in touch!

Our team monitors developments around Covid and Japan travel very closely, and we update this article frequently. For additional reference, we also recommend the following resources:

Free Japan Trip-Planning Resources

About Andres Zuleta

Andres founded Boutique Japan to share his passion and enthusiasm for Japan, and over the years he has had the opportunity to help hundreds of wonderful travelers from around the world experience Japan in a truly personal and immersive way.