Whether you’re just daydreaming for the moment, or planning a trip for the future, we’ve compiled essential information about visiting Japan in the time of Covid-19.

While some of us are already planning trips for next year and beyond, many travelers are not yet feeling certain enough to begin making future plans. It’s definitely understandable. This year has thrown a lot at us, and for most there have been more pressing concerns than going on vacation.

But for many people, travel is an essential part of what makes our lives feel rich and adventure-filled. Remember the rush of excitement when booking a flight or big trip? For travel lovers, so much joy comes not only from travel itself, but also the feeling of anticipation before a new adventure.

If you’re ready to think about planning, we want to make it as delightful and worry-free as possible (see our flexible booking policy). Even if you’re not, we hope this post gives you inspiration for the future!

Table of Contents

Bamboo onsen hot springs Yufuin Kyushu Japan

What is the current Covid-19 situation in Japan?

Life in Japan has been impacted as it has everywhere on Earth.

However, despite the seriousness of coronavirus, Japan has managed to avoid the degree of suffering and devastation experienced in many other places (for example, despite its large population, Japan has experienced relatively low mortality).

It’s also been able to do so without undergoing the severe lockdowns imposed elsewhere. With some exceptions, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, and shops operating with a high degree of normalcy.

Nevertheless, despite the relatively successful outcome thus far, people in Japan continue to take Covid safety seriously.

Japan’s culture of respect (an integral part of Japanese etiquette) certainly helps, as do the country’s outstandingly high levels of hygiene and cleanliness, not to mention the fact that Japanese people have been accustomed to wearing masks for years.

Panoramic view over Tokyo Japan

What to Expect on the Ground

Especially nowadays, keeping up with the latest developments on the ground is one of the most important parts of what we do (and means as a traveler you don’t have to navigate everything on your own).

Along with keeping close tabs on news, and official (along with behind-the-scenes) developments, our team is also in constant contact with our close-knit network throughout Japan.

Health and safety in Japan are taken very seriously, and as you might expect travel in the time of Covid comes with a few “quirks.” Travel providers from bullet trains to hotels, ryokans, and airlines have been investing in updated health and sanitation procedures to enhance the safety of both travelers and staff.

As an example, here is a rough sense of what you can generally expect at accommodations:

  • Contactless check-in and check-out
  • Hand-sanitizer stations
  • Air purifiers
  • Staff in masks and gloves
  • Temperature checks
  • Stringent procedures with regard to the cleaning and sanitation of rooms and public spaces
  • Optionally limited housekeeping
  • Buffet dining replaced by socially distant dining rooms and in-room dining
  • Public spaces such as gyms and bars may be temporarily closed, or have transitioned to new reservation-only systems

When planning your trip, we meticulously consider an array of factors to help ensure your experience will be as safe, fulfilling, and memorable as possible.

Moss Kasuga Taisha Nara Japan

Japan travel restrictions and reopening plans

Like many other countries, Japan has had its borders closed to travelers while it focuses on protecting its citizens and working on a safe reopening plan.

According to the latest intel, Japan plans to begin reopening to travelers in spring 2021.

When should you visit? Naturally, it depends on when is best for you, but at the moment most of our clients are planning visits for spring and fall of 2021, with some planning for 2022.

It’s worth noting that we generally recommend avoiding a visit around the time of the the Olympics — and if your dates are very flexible, see our complete guide to the seasons, weather, and when to visit Japan.

Flexible Booking Policy

A lot of travelers are wondering, What if the global situation doesn’t improve, and Covid prevents me from taking my trip?

We offer a flexible booking policy, to make it easy to plan for the future with peace of mind.

If Covid-related border closures or travel restrictions make your trip infeasible, you have all the way up until just 30 days before your trip start date to let us know. There will be zero change fees, and you’ll have the freedom to reschedule for later in 2021 or even 2022.

This means you can plan now, with the flexibility to change your plans down the line if needed.

Thanks to the highly personalized nature of our trips, once in a while there may be a unique service with slightly less flexibility. In the rare event this comes up in the process of designing your trip, we’ll let you know all the details before you commit.

Our goal is to make everything clear and easy, with no stress and no surprises.

We’ll be happy to help if you have any questions, please just contact us.

Cherry blossoms Osaka Castle Japan

Japanese Books & Films to Keep You Inspired

We hope you will have the chance to visit Japan as soon as possible. In the meantime, to help keep you inspired here’s a short list of our favorite Japanese and Japan-themed books and films.

Japan Reading List

For more reading inspiration, see our full Japan reading list.

Wa Japanese Design

Below you’ll find several of our favorite Japanese filmmakers and a selection of the best Japanese films, along with a couple of shows:

Planning a Future Visit to Japan

We hope the above information helps you as you consider your Japan travel plans.

Contact us if you’re ready to begin planning your trip, or have a look at our sample trips and favorite destinations if you’re seeking further Japan travel inspiration.

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.