Questions about travel to Japan and the coronavirus?

At Boutique Japan, we have been closely monitoring the situation since the early days of the outbreak, and have answered countless questions about visiting Japan now and in the future.

While the current global situation means very few people are traveling to Japan or elsewhere this spring, many travelers are nevertheless excited to plan for the future.

Along with our personal explorations of Japan, we are also in constant contact with our various colleagues and friends throughout the country, including guides, local experts, hotel and ryokan staff, transport providers, and many others.

Having answered questions from travelers from around the world, we know different people get their news and information from a variety of sources. As you think about your own future travel plans, we hope you find the information below clear and helpful.

Additionally, we’ve included ideas on how to give back to those in need during this unprecedented crisis, plus a short list of great Japanese books and films to keep you inspired in these extraordinary times.

This post was last updated on Tuesday, April 7th, 2020.

As all experienced travelers are well aware, dramatic travel restrictions and advisories have been implemented by cities, regions, and countries around the world in an effort to stem the outbreak of Covid-19.

In the United States, the Department of State has a Global Health Advisory in place, designating all travel abroad as Level 4: Do Not Travel and recommending that US citizens refrain from international travel.

Countless other countries have imposed similar restrictions and advisories.

In Japan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has implemented travel bans and quarantine requirements for travelers from various countries around the world.

In some countries, the situation has shown signs of improvement, while others are in the eye of the storm. At this stage, it is too soon to know how things will unfold over the next few weeks, and both dire and hopeful predictions abound.

With trusted contacts around the world, we’ve encountered a diversity of perspectives. Some people are more concerned about the virus itself, while others worry more about the accompanying economic and social effects (many are concerned about both).

Despite the abundance of predictions, nobody knows what the future holds.

In Japan as elsewhere, preventive measures are being implemented widely, with many sites, museums, and other attractions temporarily closed.

Additionally, the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to the summer of 2021.

As we all know by now, this is a fast-evolving situation and things can change very quickly.

From our perspective, when it comes to planning travel to Japan (or anywhere else), it seems wise to take a stance of patience where possible. While those scheduled to travel in the very near future are likely eager to make decisions, for others with less imminent travels there is a strong argument for waiting to see how the situation unfolds.

cherry blossoms shinjuku gyoen national garden shinjuku japan

Coronavirus: Helping Those in Need

Daydreaming about future travels is a wonderful diversion, but sadly these are very difficult times for a lot of people. Along with the unfolding public health crisis, many parts of the world are facing concurrent social and economic crises as well.

With so much happening at once, it can be hard to know where to begin if you want to help. Fortunately, plenty of people and organizations are doing great work, and we’ve compiled a short list of ways to help those in need during this unprecedented crisis, including ideas large and small:

  • Support healthcare workers. Healthcare workers need all the support they can get. Even in the most affluent countries, equipment is in shockingly short supply. Ways to support healthcare workers range from donating supplies or money to hospitals, to devoting time to helping workers in even small ways at a time when doctors, nurses, and others are under extreme stress.
  • WHO Covid-19 Fund. Donate to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
  • United Way Community Fund. This US-based non-profit helps vulnerable individuals and families who need help now through their Covid-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
  • Order from your favorite local restaurants. In many parts of the world, restaurants (along with other small businesses) have had to scramble to adjust to the new reality. Many have done so brilliantly, transitioning to adjusted menus and convenient pick-up and delivery services. If you can, support them by ordering from them. At least in the US, many restaurants may not survive this downturn, given its severity.
  • Donate to your local food bank. If you are fortunate enough to have food to spare, contact your local food bank to find out how to best support them.
  • Give blood. While coronavirus is our most prominent medical challenge, patients worldwide continue to need blood. Contact your local blood donation center to learn how to give safely.
  • Support your staff and coworkers. If you have a business, do all you can to support your staff during this extraordinary time. People are dealing with all sorts of new challenges. Similarly, if you work with others — whether in person, or virtually from home — remember that most everyone is dealing with some form of hardship right now.
  • Throw a party. Virtually, of course. Many creatives, including musicians and DJs, are going all out to create surprisingly entertaining live events online. Students stuck at home are organizing Power Point parties where they teach each other about subjects of particular interest to them. Families and groups of friends are meeting up for Zoom happy hours. Hosting a get-together is not only a fun diversion, it also helps lift others’ spirits.

For more ideas, the websites Charity Navigator and Charity Watch also have helpful lists of organizations responding to Covid-19 (along with insights on which are most effective).

Wa Japanese Design

Great Japanese Books & Films to Keep You Inspired

Lastly, for everyone staying closer to home for the moment, we’ve included a short list of our favorite Japanese and Japan-themed books and films to keep you inspired.

Japan Reading List

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

Recommended Japanese Films

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

We hope you’ve found this post helpful. Whenever you decide to visit Japan, we hope you have a wonderful trip!

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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.