Whether you’re planning a trip, or just daydreaming for the moment, we’ve compiled essential information about traveling to Japan in the time of Covid and beyond.

We have continually updated this page since the early days of the pandemic. Along with keeping close tabs on news and official developments, our team is also in constant contact with our close-knit network throughout Japan.

While some travelers may not be ready to begin making plans for the future, many are already plotting adventures for later this year and next.

If you’re ready to plan your Japan itinerary, we want to make the process as delightful as possible. Even if you’re not quite there, we hope this provides inspiration for the future!

Table of Contents

This post was last updated on February 23, 2021.

Bamboo onsen hot springs Yufuin Kyushu Japan

Flexible Planning

For travelers who can’t wait to travel (or at least want to get a special trip on the calendar!), we offer built-in flexibility to make it easier to plan for the future with peace of mind.

Contact us to begin dreaming up your bespoke Japan itinerary for 2021 or 2022, but don’t worry too much about things being fully set in stone. After all, a bit of uncertainty is part of life these days!

Start planning now to get ahead of pent-up demand, but if you need to change your plans we’ll help you do so effortlessly. Just give us thirty days’ notice from your trip’s start date, and you can simply reschedule for later — with no change fees.

If you have any questions about our policies, please say hello.

Can You Visit Japan Now?

Not yet.

While many people have trips planned for later in 2021 and 2022, 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. However, based on official reports and on-the-ground intel, it’s generally agreed that the Japanese government hopes to begin the gradual process of reopening to tourists this spring.

Reopening is expected to occur in stages. For example, it’s likely that travelers from places with relatively low infection rates may be allowed to enter before those from higher-risk countries.

In light of ongoing vaccine developments, some spring travelers are holding out hope that Japan will reopen more quickly than anticipated. This being said, as anyone following the news knows, there are still question marks around even the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

At this time, the majority of our travelers are planning ahead for trips this fall (2021) and next spring (2022).

If you’re thinking of visiting and have flexible travel dates, have a look at our guide to the seasons, weather, and when to visit Japan in general.

Regardless of when reopening happens, we expect the first travelers to enter Japan may have the very unique chance to experience the country with far fewer tourists than usual.

Because it’s still too soon to know how quickly reopening will progress, we are monitoring developments closely and updating this article frequently. For additional reference, we also recommend the following resources:

Cherry blossoms Osaka Castle Japan

Covid-19 in Japan and 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 somewhat fortunate to avoid the degree of devastation seen in places like the Americas and Europe.

For example, despite Japan’s massive population of 126 million people, the country has suffered strikingly low mortality rates.

Japan’s deep-rooted culture of respect (an integral part of Japanese etiquette) certainly helps. So 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.

As with other countries in the northern hemisphere, Japan experienced a winter surge. Because of this — and also due to the threat of new variants appearing worldwide — some parts of Japan are currently under a state of emergency.

Under the temporary state of emergency, businesses such as bars and restaurants are being asked to reduce their hours or temporarily close (with financial support from the government) to help curb the spread.

This being said, Japan has overall been very fortunate to avoid lockdowns as severe as those in many other parts of the world, and during most of the pandemic restaurants, cafes, and shops have been able to operate with a relatively high degree of normalcy.

Health and safety are taken very seriously in Japan, and travelers are often amazed by how clean and organized the country is. 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 common-sense 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.

Expected Entry Requirements

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.

For all of our travelers, Covid or not, we always recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance.

Unlike in the early days of the pandemic, many if not most travel insurance companies now provide medical coverage when it comes to Covid (it may go without saying, but for precise details make sure to discuss with your insurance company directly).

Wa Japanese Design

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.

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

Panoramic view over Tokyo Japan

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.