When will Japan lift its travel ban and reopen to international traffic?IndividuallyTraveler? Will the borders open normally in autumn 2022? These are questions among those planning trips to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, etc. We monitor foreign visitor alerts, messages and more for responses. (Updated October 1, 2022.)
The good news is that we now have an answer to these frontier questions that we've been asking ourselves for almost two years:Japan will reopen to individual tourists in October 2022!There are still some unknowns, but the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offered new guidance, which we're covering. This will help you prepare for arrival and potentially save time at the airport.
We will be reporting extensively from Japan in the coming weeks about our experiences as a foreign visitor in 2022 (and early 2023), what has changed, the number of visitors, the cost of visiting Japan 2022-2023 with the weaker yen, and much more.
Please subscribe to our FREE email newsletterand stay tuned if you're visiting December 2022 or later and are curious about how things are for tourists in Japan once the site reopens.
We usually spend a few months in Japan every year and are happy to return after almost 3 years away. We look forward to revisiting our favorite places, seeing friends in Japan for the first time in over two years, and continuing to create this site's wealth of free planning resources. We're excited about this great (but overdue) news, but we also go in knowing that things will be different, for better or for worse.
During these more than two years, we have been closely monitoring the situation in Japan, watching NHK for several hours every day and reading several Japanese news sources. All in hopes of clarity on when the country will fully reopen and Japan will allow international tourists to enter again.
The following is based on this research and fixation on the situation on the ground in Japan. We save this for posterity, but all that follows is now (Thank God!)outdated information. Check the links above for the latest information on Japan's reopening on October 11, 2022 for individual tourists!
Japan now allows foreign nationals to enter Japan for purposes other than tourism as long as they have a sponsor in the country. This includes short-stay business travelers, students on study abroad programs, participants in technical internships, both guided and unguided tour groups, spouse or children (and other relatives) of a Japanese national/permanent resident,others with special exceptional circumstances, and those that would bring “public benefit” to Japan.
This does not apply to individual tourists.It is not yet possible to visit Japan for self-guided tourism, and that will not be possible until early October 2022. That's the vast majority of foreign visitors, especially those reading an English-language post on a website with "travel" in the name.
With that in mind, let's cover how we got here, why Japan maintains the strictest among the Group of Seven developed nations, and what could lead to that changing.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has consistently said that Japan "will continue to consider how the measures should be, taking into account the infection situation at home and abroad, border control measures taken by other nations and progress made in introducing vaccine boosters."
Kishida has also acknowledged that Japan's border control measures are the strictest among the Group of Seven nations and expressed a desire/need to bring Japan into line with its counterparts. "This is the first step in our gradual easing of [border] restrictions," Kishida said.
Why Japan's border is still closed more than a year after most democracies reopened can largely be explained by the country's concern for outsiders.
For better or worse, Japan is an isolated and culturally conservative country - a trait often appreciated by visitors. Not so much in recent years as this has been reflected in policy making. Japan has vilified and scapegoated foreigners and been overly aggressive with its borders.
Because of these and other measures, Japan has lagged behind economically and has recovered more slowly than the United States and other counterparts, which have reopened more aggressively. The economic benefits to international tourists are a big reason why Japan is expected to reopen its border.
Boosting tourism was at the heart of the late former Prime Minister Abe's economic revival, and both subsequent Prime Ministers have stated their intention to maintain continuity with those plans.However, the number of foreign visitors to Japan fell to 245,900 last year, the lowest since 1964, as the country enforced stricter border controls. Compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, it was down 99.2 percent. That's the sharpest drop on record, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
Economists fear a "double dip" recession in Japan due to the ongoing closures and restrictions. Less tourism plus falling exports, an increased consumption tax, lower consumer spending, a weak yen and growing national debt. Japan's economy is in serious trouble and inbound tourism used to be a bright spot.
In other words, reopening to international visitors will be important to the health of Japan's consumer-driven economy at some point in the not-too-distant future. This is increasingly true as the yen weakens as the Bank of Japan continues its accommodative monetary policy while the US, European and other central banks are raising interest rates. Quite simply, Japan is hurting itself by staying closed.
There are also signs that strict travel measures, including the border closure, are having a bigger impact on the Japanese economy than previously thought. This is despite Japan's Go to Travel campaign subsidizing domestic travel, which has been offered at various times over the past two years.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency, stays at hotels and other lodgings in Japan hit another record low last year - breaking the previous record set in 2020. The total number of guests at hotels and inns was 315.75 million, a Down 4.8% from 2020 and 47% since 2019. (This figure includes hotels used as government quarantine facilities, not just holiday stays.)
The Liberal Democratic Party's ruling coalition recognizes these problems and the need to rebuild Japan's economy. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his top priority is formulating new economic policies and implementing those goals. The government will also take measures to stimulate and stimulate the economy.
Despite the numbers above, Japan is sticking to its goal of attracting 60 million foreign visitors by 2030. In addition, the Japan National Tourism Organization has set a target of 2024 to bring international travel back to 2019. Both statements are reassuring given the current border closures and suggest Japan will lift its travel ban in months, not years.
With this economic backdrop, let's take a look at recent changes to Japan's reopening plans...
We have more good news! Multiple media outlets including NHK, Kyodo, Nikkei and Fuji TV are all reporting that the Japanese government plans to further ease restrictions and border measures in order to implement the changes by early October 2022.
The specifics don't match between outlets, so let's start with where they match.
First, there is consensus that the daily arrival cap, which is currently set at 50,000, will be scrapped entirely.
This is a necessary condition for further reopening and the resumption of more international flights, but this alone was not an obstacle that deterred most international visitors. While the daily number of arrivals before the shutdown was higher, we assumed 50,000 is the level where this cap becomes immaterial as China is still marginalized. Regardless, removing this is good as it removes an element of uncertainty and could have been a problem for the Japanese during peak travel times.
Another possibility is that Japan will allow individual foreign tourists entry and visa exemption if they have been vaccinated three times or provide a pre-arrival test result.
Here there is disagreement among the major outlets. Kyodo, Nikkei and NHK report that this is yet to be determined, with government officials yet to decide whether to proceed with this plan or begin lifting the daily arrival cap. In contrast, Fuji TV treats this as a done deal and uses less ambiguous language.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reportedly plans to make a decision as early as the end of this week, according to news outlet sources.
Those "leaks" came after Deputy Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara, speaking on Fuji TV over the weekend, said Japan would consider easing all three restrictions - the cap on daily arrivals, the ban on individual tourists and the visa requirement. “We will review all three restrictions together. We need to do it in the not too distant future," he said.
“Japan has seasonal attractions in autumn and winter. We know there are many overseas people who want to come to Japan," added Kihara. "Amid the weakening yen, inbound travelers will have the greatest economic impact... There are many foreign visitors who want to visit Japan." Kihara added that removing the arrival cap alone is not enough.
Kihara isn't the only one who has spoken out in favor of fully reopening to tourists lately. During the Bloomberg New Voices panel, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said she would open the country's doors "tomorrow" if it was her decision, taking advantage of the yen's depreciation," she said .
Koike said Japan's borders would soon be fully reopened. "The state border is under the administration of the central government," Koike said. "As governor of Tokyo, that would be tomorrow."
The yen has fallen to a 24-year low of ¥144 against the dollar, likely contributing to the sense of urgency in the above interviews.
Japan last week eased its border restrictions, raising the daily arrival cap from 20,000 to 50,000 and dropping the requirement for pre-arrival PCR tests for vaccinated travelers.
Japan also began allowing unguided tours, i. H. those not accompanied by tour guides. This is specifically for "unguided tour groups" or "unaccompanied visitors on package tours" andNotindividual tourists.
InUnguided Tours in Japan - Reopening Period Rules, we cover what this means, and the recently published guidelines and frequently asked questions for these tours. Prior to the release of these guidelines, we speculated how this would work given the basic logic and precedent of previous groups that had been permitted entry into Japan. We were wrong - the unguided tours offered two steps forward but one step back.
We mention this partly because of our own past mistakes, but also as a cautionary tale. While it sure sounds like itthe end is nearFor the travel ban to Japan, it is premature to have a high level of confidence.
The Kishida government is trying to take advantage of the weak yen and accelerate growth by attracting more foreign visitors. It is therefore obvious that an opening for individual tourists must take place - that raising the entry limit is not conducive to the declared goal. However, as we have seen time and time again, the obvious conclusion is often not the conclusion reached by Japan.
Furthermore, it's also revealing how this played out with Japan's latest announcement.
On August 23, details of September's lockdown measures were shared with the same media outlets. At that time it was unclear whether unguided tourists would be allowed to enter the country. On August 31, Kishida made an official announcement encompassing all the rumored changes, including unguided tourists. (It was a few more days before the guidelines were posted, and the clarifying FAQ arestillwill be updated.)
While presenting the above as a warning against optimism or over-reliance on logic in assessing Japan's decisions, I will do just that. (Sorry I can't help it.Like a moth to a flame.)
First, there is already a realization that unguided tours - like guided tours before them - will not move inbound tourism in any meaningful way. It's another symbolic move and comes at a time when more international visitors have already moved on to other destinations and the pent-up demand is beginning to fizzle out. The number of people eagerly awaiting Japan's reopening is shrinking instead of growing.
Second, the Kishida government is aware that the window for reopening the border is closing. We've pointed this out in our best and worst case scenarios in previous updates, but there's a finite amount of time between waves.
After over two years, the seasonality of COVID transmission is well established. Cases are currently in free fall and will continue to decrease over the next month before bottoming out sometime between late October and early November. There will be a resurgence in winter. It could start as early as November, but December is more likely.
The reopening for individual tourists in October has minimal (political) risk and maximum (economic) potential. Opinion polls show most voters have already transitioned from COVID to various scandals; The minority that still cares will not see an immediate increase in cases that correlate with the reopening of the border.
Frankly, the Kishida government's miscalculation assumes that this will have an immediate impact on inbound traffic. Those reading regular updates on Japan's reopening are not representative of international travelers in general. It takes most people months between booking and traveling; very few plan and take last-minute trips – particularly international ones.
Obviously, easing has to come at some point and that delay will always have an impact, but the notion that this will move the needle for fall is misguided. Autumn is already a hopeless case. That helps at best in winter. More likely, the full impact will not be felt until next year's cherry blossom season.
A wild card is the downgrading of the legal status of COVID. Several recent updates have focused on Japan's internal debate over whether to strip COVID-19 of its special status and downgrade it to the same level as influenza in Japan's infectious disease categories.
In our view, this was a necessary requirement for the carriage of individual tourists, as it no longer required a responsible receiving party to monitor travelers and act as a liaison for infected people. Given that none of the recent reports have even mentioned the status of COVID in relation to reopening, it's possible our perspective was wrong. Or that this barrier still exists and Japan has to create a "solution" (travel insurance?) for individual tourists. Either way, this is something to keep an eye on.
As mentioned, the latest survey data also shows that the public is now far less concerned about COVID than they are about the economy, the Unification Church scandal, Abe's state funeral, and other issues. It's entirely possible that Kishida will see this poll and his falling approval ratings and realize it's time to move forward. That there are more upside than downside risks to reopening and encouraging more economic activity.
As we have repeatedly emphasized, the Japanese population is among the most cautious in the world when it comes to COVID-19. Human behavior and feelings do not change overnight, even if it is economically advantageous and objectively safer. Statements by politicians and medical advisers, gradual border easing and other changes could be interpreted as Japan laying the groundwork for a return to normalcy and eventual reopening of the country. It now seems that the time has come - or will come very soon.
With all that said, I'll present my revised best, worst, and baseline scenarios for reopening Japan to independent tourists...
Let's start with the best-case scenario. This assumes that Japan is downgrading COVID-19 from its special status to Category 5 literally every day noworthat this is not a necessary prerequisite for an individual tourist reopening. (With the possible workaround of travel insurance or some other cumbersome "fix".)
Critically, this would remove the legal requirement for a responsible receiving party for visitors to Japan. In such a scenario, borders could return to their normal pre-closure status almost immediately in early October 2022. That would reintroduce the visa exemption, so that's not an issue. The upper limit for arrivals would also not apply in this scenario.
Then there is the middle ground or base case. This now corresponds to the best-case scenario. In short, reopening in early October 2022 isn't just our most optimistic view - it's what we're doing nowexpecthappen.
To differentiate the two, I will also concede a middle ground possibility of a two-pronged decision with the reopening of the individual tourist a few weeks after the entry restriction was lifted. Let's say that happens in early November 2022.
This would give some leeway to Japan's slow and cumbersome decision-making process, which requires a lot of "careful thought" and "evaluation of the situation." If anything has become established over the last two years or more, it is that inaction is Japan's baseline, and everything that happens is gradual and in stages.
Finally, the worst-case scenario is that Japan instead opts to revive its Go to Travel campaign in time for the fall color season and uses this to boost the tourism sector through December 2022. It is possible that the country will see this as enough for tourism companies to stave off bankruptcy or other financial difficulties for a few more months.
If there is another winter resurgence in some cases, the reopening would effectively be delayed for a few more months. That would mean that individual tourists would not be welcome back to Japan until sometime in the first half of 2023. I'm inclined to say spring 2023, but it's easy to imagine the worst-case scenario, which doesn't happen until summer.
In our view, the worst-case scenario has now occurredmaximumunlikely.Japan eased its border measures in early September while still #1 in the world for new cases. This suggests that Japan is finally ready to move forward and sets the precedent for future changes during the waves. Who knows - it may not be until early 2023 before COVID's legal status is fully downgraded. But whatever winter wave occurs (and aWillehappen), this is probably not an obstacle to the reopening of progress, as was the case last year.
Against this background, we remain cautiously optimistic that individual tourists will be allowed to enter Japan sooner rather than later. The political and economic appetite for full easing is now clearly there, and there is a chorus of politicians in Japan - including those who previously supported closed borders - who advocate reopening. It is now the popular position, publicly espoused by politicians and not just advocated by Keidanren or Japan's business lobby.
A full reopening of Japan is all but inevitable at this point. It will happen soon. The endisnear.
We therefore believe that the reopening of Japan in some ways for individual tourists in October 2022 is a very realistic scenario. As unlikely as it seemed just a week ago, Japan is holding back international visitors not joining tours (guided or non-guided) sometime before November 2022 is likely. It's pretty clear the government is focused on moving forward. As frustrating as this whole process has been, Japan is not yet (fully) stuck in March 2020.
As always, Japan is cautious and conservative, with a slow and cumbersome decision-making process that often embodies "analysis paralysis" and usually defies logic. That's a wild card that could further lengthen any timeline. However, Japan is now joining the rest of the world as people are ready to move on with life.
We will continue to follow the news and update you on if/when there are further developments regarding the reopening of Japan and permitting entry for travelers from the United States, Canada, Europe and beyond. Again, if you'd like to be notified as soon as more details are released or rumored,subscribe to our free email newsletter for ongoing updates and notifications:
At this point, if you are planning to visit Japan, we recommend aiming for November 2022 at the earliest. In our opinion, the koyo season (fall leaves) is a good choice, and it runs from mid-November to December. This is just a good time to visit Japan and hopefully the country will be open to individual tourists by then.
Speaking of which, check out oursto start planning your trip and visit Japan's popular fall foliage cities including Kyoto, Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Himeji and Nara. It also offers tips on avoiding crowds and strategies for visiting the best temples, shrines and evening illuminations.
If you are planning a trip to Japan, stop byour other posts about Japanfor ideas for other things to do! We also recommend consulting ourUltimate guide to KyotoandUltimate Tokyo Travel Guidethe plan.
Would you consider a trip to Japan later this year, or is international travel not an option for you any time soon? How do you see the news about guided tours? Do you think these will last for several months or are they simply theater to change public opinion? Are you concerned that Japan won't reopen until 2023, or do you still think October 2022 is realistic? Do you think the need to adapt to and live with the endemic virus will outweigh fear when it comes to Japan's reopening plans? Any thoughts or tips you can add? Planning your trip to Japan, what do you think of these itineraries? Any questions? Hearing your feedback on your experience is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!
Will Japan open up for individual tourists? ›
Yes, visa free tourism resumed October 11, 2022.
Individual tourists may visit Japan starting October 11, 2022, subject to vaccine or testing requirements as further described in the U.S. Embassy's “Information for U.S. Citizens Traveling to Japan” webpage.
Starting on Oct. 11, short-term visitors will no longer be required to apply for tourist visas.Will Japan be open in 2023? ›
After over two years of restrictions were imposed on international tourists traveling into Japan, officials finally announced the country's reopening on October 11, 2022.Is MySOS necessary to enter Japan? ›
Service by MySOS has ended with the January 13, 2023 entry to Japan and is no longer available.Is Japan open to tourists October 2022? ›
Single entry visa and multiple entry visa which have been issued by Embassies, Consulate-Generals and Consulates of Japan in all countries/regions and whose validity have been temporarily suspended have been resumed again from 0:00 am (JST) on October 11, 2022.Can I go to Japan in October? ›
October is, arguably, the best month to travel to Japan (although this will depend on what you want to experience!). Temperatures in most places are still warm, but the intense humidity and increased rainfall of summer has subsided. Autumn leaves begin appearing at higher elevations and more northern latitudes.Is Japan Tourist Visa open now? ›
February 2023. Japan is finally open! Travelers from most countries can now enter Japan without applying for a visa in advance.Is Japan planning to reopen? ›
Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money. Finally. After being closed to tourists for over two and a half years, Japan reopened to visa- and agent-free foreign tourism in October 2022.What are the tourist requirements for Japan? ›
You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan. You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.What app do I need to enter Japan? ›
The Japanese government strongly recommends that you use the Visit Japan Web app to upload your Covid vaccination and/or Covid test documents. Using this app will allow you to move much more quickly through your arrival airport.
Do you need 3 vaccine to enter Japan? ›
3 Negative PCR Test Certificate
For those who are not vaccinated 3 times, the certificate of negative test result of pre-departure COVID-19 test must be conducted within 72 hours*.
-Register relevant information and get QR codes on Visit Japan Web for smooth entry into Japan. QR codes are generated after the registration. *Immigration and Customs procedures on Visit Japan Web are available at 7 major airports (Tokyo/Narita, Tokyo/Haneda, Kansai, Chubu, Fukuoka, New Chitose, Naha).Can I travel to Japan in November 2022? ›
Starting November 1, 2022, travelers to Japan may pre-register for airport Immigration, Customs, and Vaccination review, and use “Fast Track” at major airports across Japan using Visit Japan Web .How is Japan in October? ›
Japan October weather overview
Japan is back at its best now as temperatures drop to much more comfortable levels with less rain and the autumn scenery comes in to its prime. Typhoon season is also ending in the south and Okinawa Islands now making the country generally warm and sunny with spectacular landscapes.
Japan's typhoon season ranges from May to October each year, peaking in August and September. There is no need to avoid travel during these months, however. Why not? Each year, about 30 typhoons or tropical storms form over the Pacific ocean.Should I go to Japan in September or October? ›
The very best of autumn. With typhoon season largely over by the end of September, October offers some of Japan's fairest and most comfortable weather. It's a time of harvest and harvest festivals, outdoor excursions, autumnal hikes and art and culture.Is Japan tourist visa open 2022? ›
As of September 26 2022, Japan's border is open to international tourists so long as they have had at least three COVID-19 vaccinations or undergo a PCR test prior to travel, agree to follow COVID protocols including social distancing and wearing face masks in confined spaces and book their travel package – including ...How long does Japan visa approval take? ›
The time required from visa application to visa issuance is 5 working days from the day following the date of receipt of the application, provided that there is no particular problem with the content of application.When should I book a flight to Japan? ›
Book at least 3 weeks before departure in order to get a below-average price. High season is considered to be January, November and December. The cheapest month to fly from the United States is February.What to do before entering Japan? ›
- Vaccination certificate. Government requirements.
- Test certificate. Inspection Certificate within 72 hours of departure. Requirements for Certificate of Testing for Entering Japan. FAQ for Confirmation of Certificate of testing.
Does Japan accept rapid Covid test? ›
In addition to the nasopharyngeal swab tests mentioned above, starting at midnight, March 9th, 2022 (JPT), Japan will begin to approve test results taken from NAAT nasal swab tests (RT-PCR, LAMP, TMA, TRC, Smart Amp, NEAR) as acceptable for entry into Japan.What documents do I need to re enter Japan? ›
- Eligible Visa or the “Letter of Confirmation of Submitting Required Documentation for Re-entry into Japan”
- Certificate of pre-entry test results issued within 72 hours (from the sampling time to departure time of the flight) (original or copy)
- “Written Pledge (Business Track) (PDF) ” (updated on November 10) 2 copies.
This was changed once again in 2021, and was moved to July 23, the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, instead of October 11. This national holiday was established in 1948.Will Japan allow visa free? ›
After almost two years of travel suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Japan has now eased their Covid-19 entry restrictions. Moreover, Japan has now resumed its visa-free services, and travellers are once again eligible to enter Japan visa-free. Which countries are eligible for the visa-free entry to Japan?When can I go to Japan without visa? ›
Japan has resumed its visa exemption scheme for short-stay tourism and business travel. You'll no longer need a visa to travel to Japan for up to 90 days. If you're travelling for any other reason, contact your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate to check if you need a visa, especially if you plan to work in Japan.Who can travel to Japan without visa? ›
Countries that are Visa Exempt from Requiring a Japanese Visa.
International Day of the Girl Child.Is October 11th still a federal holiday? ›
Columbus Day is observed on the second Monday of October. While Columbus Day is a federal government holiday meaning all federal offices are closed, not all states grant it as a day off from work.What national holiday is October in Japan? ›
Sports Day is a national holiday in Japan held every year on the second Monday of each October. It celebrates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo and is held to help promote sports, health and an active lifestyle.Does Japan allow US citizens to visit? ›
Visa Free Travel for U.S. Citizen Tourists
Passengers who have been fully vaccinated and boosted with vaccines approved by the Japanese government and who are arriving in Japan after October 11, 2022, will not require a pre-travel COVID-19 test.
What is the strongest passport in the world? ›
Japan has the most powerful passport in the world for the 5th year in a row, according to the Henley Passport Index. South Korea and Singapore are tied for 2nd place. The Index ranks all of the world's passports by the number of destinations their holders can access without obtaining a visa in advance.How much bank balance is required for Japan visa? ›
According to experienced travelers, the show money for a Japan visa should be enough for your daily expenses within the duration of the trip. For instance, if you stay in Japan for 15 days, you must have at least ₱100,000 in your bank account. If you're staying for at least five days, ₱50,000 may be enough.How long is a single entry visa for Japan? ›
A1: The period of validity of a single-entry visa (that becomes invalid as soon as once you enter Japan) is basically three months. Enter Japan within three months of the issuance of the visa. If you wish to postpone your travel for longer than three months, you will be required to make another visa application.What does a US citizen need to enter Japan? ›
You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan. You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.What is the easiest visa to get for Japan? ›
For a first contact with the country it is an excellent option. If you are a freelancer or if you work from home, it is as easy as moving and continuing to work from here for your clients or your company.
What countries do not accept U.S. passport? The only destination where it is forbidden for US citizens to travel to is North Korea, due to its closed border status for both US citizens and citizens of other countries.