It’s an exciting day for travel — after over 2.5 years, Japan is finally reopening its borders to tourists on a widespread basis as of today.
Japan welcoming visa-free individual travelers
As of today (October 11, 2022), Japan is resuming visa-free entry for individual foreign travelers. This brings Japan’s border rules close to pre-pandemic norms for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as Japan doesn’t require a quarantine for travelers regardless of vaccination status, and doesn’t require testing for vaccinated travelers.
With this change, short-term visitors that were exempt from visa requirements before the pandemic are once again able to enter without having to apply for a tourist visa (this includes those from the United States, and dozens of other countries). To coincide with this, Japan has also lifted its cap on daily arrivals, to prepare for a big influx of travelers.
In order to be considered vaccinated, you must have received three doses of an approved vaccine (meaning you need to be boosted). Those who aren’t considered fully vaccinated by Japan need to get tested within 72 hours of traveling to the country.
Japan is hoping that the economy will be boosted through international tourism, as the Japanese Yen is currently at a 24-year low, making it a great time to visit Japan.
Interestingly Japan’s borders haven’t actually been closed for quite some time, there have just been a lot of restrictions around travel. For example, foreigners have needed a special visa to visit Japan, which could be arranged through a Japanese travel agency, or through a package tour. The visa requirement being eliminated will make visiting Japan much easier.
Japan has taken an unconventional approach
Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a vast majority of countries reopen, though up until now, Japan has been an exception. I’ve posed the question in the past about what exactly Japan’s plan was to reopen borders.
It’s not like the country was taking a zero-tolerance approach with coronavirus, as Japanese nationals have been able to travel freely without testing or quarantine on the return, and the country has seen huge coronavirus outbreaks.
Unfortunately there was only one reasonable conclusion, which was that most Japanese people simply didn’t like having tourists in the country. According to polls, there was widespread public support for Japan’s policy up until now, allowing Japanese people to travel abroad freely, while not allowing foreigners in under most conditions.
Even though tourism has an economic benefit to Japan, that clearly didn’t outweigh the anti-foreigner sentiment that existed. Japan is one of my favorite countries in the world, though I’ll certainly feel a little bit less welcome the next time I’m there, knowing just how widespread the dislike of foreign tourists is.
Japan has reopened to individual travelers on a visa-free basis as of today (October 11, 2022). While Japan’s borders haven’t been closed, you’ve had to jump through some hoops to visit the country under the previous policies, so it’s nice to see that changes have been implemented.
Japan was one of the few remaining countries popular with tourists to still have huge restrictions on visitors, so this is significant.
Anyone plan on visiting Japan now that borders are reopened?