Not yet! At the moment, Japan is still not open to general tourists, though despite the restrictions many travelers are planning trips for later this year (2022) and next (2023) — and thankfully we are seeing some promising moves by the Japanese government.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, our team of Japan experts has been closely monitoring developments and in constant contact with our extensive network throughout the country. We update this page frequently (at least monthly, and more often when there are major updates) and it was last updated on May 23, 2022.
Because pandemic travel planning can be a pain, we offer a flexible rescheduling policy. Learn more about when Japan’s borders are expected to reopen, when you should plan to visit, and more below:
- When will Japan reopen to general tourists?
- Japan entry requirements for tourists
- When should you plan to visit Japan?
- Our flexible rescheduling policy
- Does travel insurance cover issues related to Covid-19?
- Covid-19 in Japan now
If you have any questions about Covid-19 and Japan travel planning not addressed in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
When Will Japan Reopen to General Tourists?
Japan’s borders have been closed to tourists since the spring of 2020, though fortunately it finally looks like this should begin to change in the very near future.
The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that, beginning within the next few weeks (likely in June), the country will begin conducting a limited number of package tours on a trial basis.
The test tours, which will be held in groups, will feature strictly fixed itineraries. They will be coordinated in conjunction with major Japanese travel agencies such as NTA, and will be monitored closely by the government. During this trial period, only triple-vaccinated tourists from a small handful of countries (the United States, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore) will be permitted to participate.
The tourism trial is very much in line with what Prime Minister Kishida’s government had been planning last fall, before Omicron derailed those plans. So while it may not be the more wide-ranging reopening would-be Japan travelers await, it is an encouraging step in the right direction.
Earlier in May, Kishida-san stated that Japan would aim to begin easing Japan’s travel restrictions to be more in line with the border policies of other G7 countries by June. Clearly this has yet to pass, but it’s important to note that the government appears to have much to gain by taking gradual steps. It’s widely believed that the Prime Minister’s slow-and-steady approach is meant to help appease elderly voters (a key part of his base), who generally favor a more cautious reopening.
If the initial trial period goes well, the Japanese government has indicated that they plan to steadily ease restrictions, and we eagerly await the day when individual tourists are once again able to freely travel around Japan.
Japan Entry Requirements for Tourists
Thanks to the current progress, Japan’s border policies are in a state of flux, and it’s not yet known what the entry requirements will be when the country reopens more widely for tourism.
The government-run Japan Tourism Agency has advised that, during the initial trial period described above, participants would need to be triple-vaccinated and no quarantine would be required.
However, this may continue to ease as the country moves towards relaxing its policies further. For example, starting in June the government plans to transition to a tiered system, whereby visitors from certain destinations would be exempt from some requirements.
Because the Japanese government’s policies are evolving quite rapidly at the moment, we will continue to update this page as more concrete details emerge.
Thinking of other adventures while you wait for Japan to reopen? Meet our sister company, Boutique Explorer.
When Should You Plan to Visit Japan?
We typically suggest planning at least 4-6 months in advance (more for peak seasons), and most of our travelers are planning ahead for this autumn and beyond (see our current availability).
If you have the flexibility to avoid crowded times of year, and don’t mind missing the cherry blossoms or fall foliage, we highly recommend visiting during an offseason. Japan is truly a year-round destination, and it can be at its most magical when there are fewer tourists around.
Learn more: When Is The Best Time of Year To Visit Japan?
For those who haven’t traveled much recently, it may be hard to imagine demand being high. Yet despite the uncertainty, we’re plenty of travelers are booking trips to Japan for this year and next. Add in all the people with postponed trips, and it’s no surprise that availability is limited for Japan’s best hotels and ryokans, not to mention the most talented guides and local experts.
Even if you prefer to wait until things feel more certain, it may still be wise to initiate the initial planning process, as demand is likely to skyrocket once the Japanese government announces a reopening timeline.
Flexible Rescheduling Policy
What if you plan now, but travel cannot commence due to government border restrictions relating to Covid-19? Obviously we hope this doesn’t happen, but to make things as painless as possible we offer a flexible rescheduling policy.
Flexible Rescheduling. Reschedule with ease. Simply take your postponed trip within 2 years of your original trip dates.
No Rescheduling Fee. There is no fee to reschedule. Your entire deposit is fully transferable to your new dates.
What’s the catch? We do require at minimum 30 days’ notice prior to your trip’s start date to guarantee the above. This enables us to give your guides, accommodations, and other service providers advance notice (our relationships with hotels, ryokans, guides, and local experts are sacred to us, and a key facet of the trips we offer). In rare cases there may be a unique service with a less flexible policy, in which case we’ll let you know before you book.
We would be remiss not to mention that we can’t guarantee rates won’t change between your original and rescheduled trips, as pricing for services (particularly accommodations) can vary depending on the season and even day of the week, not to mention from year to year due to external factors like inflation and exchange rates. On the flip side, we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients, and if needed are always happy to brainstorm creative ways to try and help you work around your budget.
Finally, it’s worth noting that if you need to change your travel plans with us for any reason other than government border restrictions relating to Covid-19 preventing travel from commencing, our regular Booking Terms and Conditions would apply depending on when you decide (whether you’re postponing or canceling altogether). If you have any questions about any of our policies, don’t hesitate to call or email us.
Does Travel Insurance Include Coverage for Covid-19?
The topic of travel insurance was already complex even before Covid-19, and now has become even more convoluted.
Fortunately, the majority of reputable insurance companies do now offer at least some degree of pandemic coverage. Not every single potential issue is necessarily covered, but some key ones — for example, if you get Covid-19 and cannot travel — are covered by many.
Pandemic or not, we’ve always recommended comprehensive travel insurance, which can help protect you both financially and medically. For example, if you have to change or cancel your plans last-minute for a covered reason, or if you need to access medical care during your trip. It can also prove worth the investment in case of more minor issues, which can nevertheless wreak havoc on travel plans, such as unexpected flight changes, lost luggage, etc.
However, even the best policies don’t cover everything. For example, even among policies that offer a degree of pandemic coverage, most do not protect against border closures or other travel restrictions. This is why many travelers opt for “Cancel for Any Reason” (sometimes abbreviated as CFAR) coverage. Travelers with CFAR are more likely to be eligible to receive at least some insurance reimbursement for a broader range of reasons.
As far as providers go, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection is one good option for luxury travelers. Many of our travelers also work with Travelex, Travel Guard, Allianz, and RoamRight (to compare various policies side by side, refer to the insurance marketplaces SquareMouth and InsureMyTrip). For a different degree of protection, more and more travelers are also looking to solutions like Medjet and Covac Global.
To make sure you get a policy that meets your specific needs, we strongly recommend you speak directly with a travel insurance provider. Let’s not mince words: insurance is not a fun topic, but in the Covid era it’s a travel essential.
Covid-19 in Japan Now
Like elsewhere in the world, daily life in Japan has been significantly impacted by Covid-19.
However, even taking surges into account, Japan — which is much larger than most people realize, with a population of 126 million — has fared impressively well compared to most countries when it comes to Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Some nations have contained the pandemic more successfully than Japan, though arguably no other country has done as well without relying on strict lockdowns.
At certain points, parts of Japan have been under what is referred to as a State of Emergency. Yet despite the alarming terminology, the impact of these “emergencies” on daily life has been on the whole less disruptive than the lockdowns endured in many countries.
Japan’s Vaccination Rollout
Covid-19 Precautions in Japan
In terms of precautions, health and safety are taken very seriously in Japan, and travelers are often amazed by how clean and organized the country is (along with Japanese food, it’s one of the best things about Japan). Wherever you go, it’s safe to expect widespread adherence to best practices for hygiene and cleanliness, including virtually universal mask-wearing, ubiquitous availability of hand sanitizer, and respectful social distancing.
Japan’s deep-rooted culture of respect, an integral part of Japanese etiquette, certainly helps. So does the fact that Japanese people have been used to wearing masks for many years (in Japan, people wear masks not only due to Covid, but also during flu season, for allergy prevention, and more). Naturally, travel service providers in Japan — from hotels and ryokans, to bullet trains and airlines — have also invested heavily in revamping sanitation procedures to enhance the safety of both travelers and staff.
Planning to Visit Japan in 2022 or 2023?
Whether you’re ready to go, or remain on the fence pending further clarity, we’re here to help you plan your Japan trip or answer any questions you may have.