It’s been two-and-a-half years now since travel to Japan was relatively free and easy. Few around the world have been so tourism countries about reopening their borders to after the cataclysmic shutdowns of 2020. But today we’re over the moon to learn, via Time Out Tokyo and the Japan Timesthat travel to Japan will soon return to something that looks a lot like the old normal.
Following previous reports that Japan was preparing to drop pre-departure testing, the Japanese government has now announced that, as of September 7 2022, travellers will be allowed to visit Japan without booking a guided tour. Individual package tours will now be allowed – even those that only include flights and hotels.
The only remaining snag will be that potential visitors have to book via a travel agency, as a point of information and contact. This will limit travelers’ choice of accommodation a bit. It will also mean 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 current situation, in which potential tourists are only able to enter Japan if they’ve booked a strictly scheduled, accompanied group tour.
At the same time, Japan’s list of permitted countries will also be dropped, with visitors from all countries and regions now being accepted.
The country will also start to allow up to 50,000 overseas arrivals per day – up from the current limit of 20,000. (In fact, the strictness of the current ‘test tourism’ regime saw only 14,345 people arrive per day in July.)
If you’re looking to travel to Japan from September 7, 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 speculative, 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.