It’s been two-and-a-half years now since travel to Japan was relatively free and easy. Few countries around the world have been so cautious about reopening their borders to tourism after the cataclysmic shutdowns of 2020. But today we’re over the moon to announce that travel to Japan has now returned to something that looks a lot like the old normal.
What are the new Japan travel restrictions?
Following previous reports that Japan was preparing to drop pre-departure testing, last week Time Out Tokyo and the Japan Times reported that the Japanese government would soon allow travellers to visit Japan without booking a guided tour. From September 7, individual travellers can visit Japan on package tours – even those that only include flights and hotels.
The only remaining snag is that potential visitors have to book via a travel agency, as a point of information and contact. This limits travellers’ choice of accommodation a bit. It also means that you can’t, for instance, book a place to stay spontaneously while you’re in Japan – so no free-roaming backpacking trips just yet.
But all this is much better than the previous situation, in which potential tourists were only able to enter Japan if they’d booked a strictly scheduled, accompanied group tour.
At the same time, Japan’s list of permitted countries has been dropped, with visitors from all countries and regions now being accepted.
The country has started to allow up to 50,000 overseas arrivals per day – up from the previous limit of 20,000.
If you’re looking to travel to Japan from today, you’ll still need to jump through all the hoops to apply for a visa, and follow all the border measures including quarantine and proof of vaccination.
Despite a few remaining complications, it seems that Japan is finally moving from its tourism trial towards a full, if cautious, reopening. In the words of a government official quoted by the Japan Times: ‘We hope more foreign tourists will come to Japan.’ And that’s something that we can all get very excited about.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Get planning with our guide to Japan’s 15 best hotels.
Plus: you’ll soon be able to spend six weeks in Thailand, visa-free.