Yay: Japan Has Fully Reopened To Foreign Visitors

Yay: Japan Has Fully Reopened To Foreign Visitors

79

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 is once again welcoming foreigners with few restrictions

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.

There’s a strong anti-foreign tourist sentiment in Japan

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (79)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Ugur Camli Guest

    You forgot to write that Japan requires apps to be downloaded. Those who do not have a smart phone is required to rent one at the airport, just another nuisance.

  2. glenn t Diamond

    I don't know why Ben is banging on so repeatedly about the Japanese people disliking tourists. Some bad experience maybe?
    I do know that they dislike loud and culturally ignorant/insensitive (read many American) tourists though.

    1. Steve Guest

      Oh please, Japan is not a country that is particularly welcoming to foreigners and xenophobia is high.

  3. Mark Guest

    Regarding the a lot waivers for HND, does this mean all US carriers will have to start flying their awarded route authorities?

  4. Danny Guest

    3 jabs requirement is a killer.
    Majority of people have only 2 jabs and it's an international standard.
    Way to open the borders and keep them closed at the same time.

    1. Whinnying ste Guest

      I dunno where you are but majority of people I know got more than 3 jabs.
      Just take it or leave it or tested.

    2. Pompom Guest

      Every country is different.
      There's no international standard for it.
      Spain is also strict about this.
      If you don't like it, don't go. No one cares.

  5. NR New Member

    Looking forward to this. Managed to snag J to HND from IAH and F from NRT to LAX in February on ANA.

  6. notbad41 Guest

    I am vaccinated but when I travel the gate agent looks at my vaccine card and that is it. When I went to Thailand when they had the mandatory quarantine, they just looked at it and off I went to the hotel. What would stop someone from just writing some numbers down on the card?

  7. Stuart Guest

    The issue has not been about tourism. Japan cares little about "tourists" outside the tourism industry. The reason this came about was strong lobbying from businesses in Japan who were unable to welcome foreign contacts for meetings etc unless under very special circumstances. This is more about business travel than it is tourism. For Japan to compete on the global market, especially against China, South Korea etc, they desperately needed to allow easy flow of...

    The issue has not been about tourism. Japan cares little about "tourists" outside the tourism industry. The reason this came about was strong lobbying from businesses in Japan who were unable to welcome foreign contacts for meetings etc unless under very special circumstances. This is more about business travel than it is tourism. For Japan to compete on the global market, especially against China, South Korea etc, they desperately needed to allow easy flow of these travelers into the country.

  8. Tim Dunn Diamond

    So glad the day has finally come. given how low the uptake for the covid booster is, there will be people that will have to test if they did not get a 1st booster with one of the mRNA vaccines or a 2nd booster with J&J's vaccine.
    Japan reopening will help reduce transpacific fares because so much capacity has been pulled between the US and Japan; airlines will re-add capacity since there will be...

    So glad the day has finally come. given how low the uptake for the covid booster is, there will be people that will have to test if they did not get a 1st booster with one of the mRNA vaccines or a 2nd booster with J&J's vaccine.
    Japan reopening will help reduce transpacific fares because so much capacity has been pulled between the US and Japan; airlines will re-add capacity since there will be a local market which will provide capacity for connections. Transpacific air fares are very high by historical norms.
    The future of JAL and ANA is on the line with reopening. They could not have survived without a strong tourism culture.
    As for not being a pain to Japanese locals, learning to tread lightly is a noble goal by tourists; the people that are willing to consider that they might be a problem are probably not the ones the Japanese people don't like.

    1. Knowthefactdummy Guest

      They could totally survive, they make more than half of income from domestic services.
      Japanese domestic market is pretty huge. Their international services won't make money, it has always been that way, they make most of money from domestic market. also there has never been a strong tourism culture in Japan since tourism doesn't contribute much to their economy.

  9. Dublin Guest

    I’m surprised this was not mentioned. JAL has numerous business class and first class seats available until the end of October. They were actually three seats available in first class JFK to Haneda. Great use of American miles. We were able to get to first class onto business class return. Availability dried up quickly and we could only stay in Tokyo for five days but I will take it!

  10. Ryan Guest

    What is the current situation on the ground in Japan? Do you have to wear masks to do most things? Show vaccination proof, etc? I'd only be excited to visit if things are normal once you're there...

    1. Mike Guest

      Masks have never been required in Japan, most people chose to wear them. When I was there in July more and more people were choosing not to wear them outside. I only wore a mask when I was near a lot of people - trains and stores, just to make others comfortable.

    2. Steve Guest

      Most Japanese people wear masks inside and outside. In trains it is 99.9%. They take them of once they start drinking. You can get away with not wearing a mask outside, but inside many businesses will ask you to wear them. Not sure what would happen if you refuse. I hope tourist stop wearing them so other people might follow suit.

    3. Christian Guest

      I'm a resident in Tokyo and while it is true that more and more people are choosing to take off their masks outside, I'd say that it is still around 80%+ masked outdoors and 95% or so indoors, depending on where you go. It's not required but it would be the right thing to wear masks as long as Japanese people are wearing them. Not saying that is a good reason to wear masks, but...

      I'm a resident in Tokyo and while it is true that more and more people are choosing to take off their masks outside, I'd say that it is still around 80%+ masked outdoors and 95% or so indoors, depending on where you go. It's not required but it would be the right thing to wear masks as long as Japanese people are wearing them. Not saying that is a good reason to wear masks, but it's the same as talking on the phone on the train. There's no law against it but it is best to follow local customs.

    4. David Guest

      Not “reading the air” and going around without mask while most people have masks on is just another reason why Japanese people dislike foreigners. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  11. Leo Liang Guest

    Yet their visa application process for non-visa free nations are still perplex to hell.(I am Chinese living in Singapore)

  12. Thrawn Guest

    Do you know if there will be more flights available on short notice? We are in Bangkok in 1,5 months and like to fly over but there are not many flights and the existing ones are pretty expensive :-(

  13. Tony Guest

    If it's shocking to learn that Japanese people don't care for foreigners, you haven't met very many Japanese people. It's a very insular culture.

  14. warren trout Guest

    Very true. I lived in Japan for two years. I was always treated well, but non Japanese will always be an outsider. They are very nationalistic and, like the Chinese, mix nationalism with racism. The two are one in the same.

    Even so, I loved living there. So interesting! Best of all there is almost no violent crime of any kind. Don't credit gun control; there's just very low violence of any kind.

    1. Zee Guest

      As someone who lived in several East Asian countries before, I'd say that people from the Greater China region (i.e., Mainland China, HK & Taiwan) tend to be more accepting than Koreans and Japanese. Though I'm not sure how Mainland China will become in a decade or two given the xenophobic/nationalistic narrative pushed by the current government.

      My advice for anyone who's going to live in Japan & Korea is that don't ever think about...

      As someone who lived in several East Asian countries before, I'd say that people from the Greater China region (i.e., Mainland China, HK & Taiwan) tend to be more accepting than Koreans and Japanese. Though I'm not sure how Mainland China will become in a decade or two given the xenophobic/nationalistic narrative pushed by the current government.

      My advice for anyone who's going to live in Japan & Korea is that don't ever think about blending in. You can appreciate their culture and traditions but still be an outsider, that's how you enjoy the benefit from both sides.

      For those going to live in Mainland China, try to stay away from all stuff political (though you'll find many locals interested in discussing/debating politics with you, with their own twisted version of "facts")

    2. Eddie Guest

      You find people who enjoy talking politics with you with twisted version of "facts" just anywhere tho.

  15. Jugsk Guest

    Hi everyone, what do you think about booking non refundable flights already now without waiting for the news to be on the governmental websites and all? Safe enough? Feels a bit scary to pay so much money for something that is not 100% confirmed yet... Thanks!

  16. Paul R Guest

    that resentment is felt because of the poor behaviour of some tourists!
    the behaviour of 4 young men I witnessed in an onsen was appalling, and showed a total lack or respect.

  17. Bob Guest

    About damn time. Too bad I was hoping for a late sept reopening with my ANA booking and had to cancel. Trying to rebook now with awards and I mind as well try to find Jimmy hoffas body. Not easy trying to find non waitlisted seats.
    Really, nobody wants tourists in their home towns but it's a necessary nuisance if you want the income it generates.

  18. JB Guest

    Booked a ticket for the 14th :)

  19. Jason Guest

    Lucky the truth is not that they don’t want foreigners in the country, they just didn’t want a certain neighbor country coming in droves like before.

    Americans and Europeans are different.

    1. Andrew Diamond

      Uh huh. What was kurofune about? ;-)

    2. Mark Guest

      About 170 years ago, that's what kurofune was about.

  20. xx Guest

    Taiwan will be reopening without any restrictions from 10/13 too .

    1. Andrew Diamond

      That's awesome news! Grand Hyatt Taipei time!

    2. Pam Thicket Guest

      Re: Taiwan, entry permits will continue to be required for visitors holding PRC, Hong Kong or Macau passports. Taiwan's pandemic-related entry restrictions will be replaced by a 7-day "self-initiated epidemic prevention" period. Upon arrival all travelers will be given four rapid Covid test kits, and asked to take a rapid test on the day of arrival or the following day. If the test result is negative, the traveler may go to work or school and...

      Re: Taiwan, entry permits will continue to be required for visitors holding PRC, Hong Kong or Macau passports. Taiwan's pandemic-related entry restrictions will be replaced by a 7-day "self-initiated epidemic prevention" period. Upon arrival all travelers will be given four rapid Covid test kits, and asked to take a rapid test on the day of arrival or the following day. If the test result is negative, the traveler may go to work or school and may participate in other activities, but during this 7-day period he should stay in a room equipped with a separate bathroom in a hotel or private residence, avoid contact with people 65 or older or 6 or younger, or who are immuno-compromised, and should not visit a hospital except in an emergency. During and after this period, he (like everyone else) should wear a mask whenever he leaves his hotel room or residence.

  21. Sam Guest

    Great! Can finally fly into NRT, out of HND & the opposite. Adds a TON of award options:-)

  22. Jason Guest

    Apparently not self motivated but pressured by other G7 countries.
    Even if Japan ran its Go Europe campaign for more than a century, its COVID restrictions demonstrated that the core of the country is still undeniably Sinosphere.

  23. Cam Member

    Pleased as punch. I planned a week in Japan as part of my round the world honeymoon months ago, and it looks like we're all set on that front. What an enormous relief.

  24. mike Guest

    ah crap.... bet too early... my ticket to Japan is Oct 8th....

  25. lsbuffs Guest

    Anybody know what they mask requirements are, both flying to Japan and while in-country? I assume 99.9% of Japanese are wearing masks, restrictions or not.

    1. HarryOB Guest

      I was there in August. Masks are expected indoors, but not actually required. You have to do the wear it to the table routine at restusrsnts. I did see some Japanese completely blowing it off, but only a few.

      They're worn outdoors in crowded places by about 75% or so of the people I saw. Nobody was wearing them in hiking areas at all.

      They're generally fine with any mask and you'll see many Japanese...

      I was there in August. Masks are expected indoors, but not actually required. You have to do the wear it to the table routine at restusrsnts. I did see some Japanese completely blowing it off, but only a few.

      They're worn outdoors in crowded places by about 75% or so of the people I saw. Nobody was wearing them in hiking areas at all.

      They're generally fine with any mask and you'll see many Japanese wearing comfy cloth or spandex masks instead of surgical or better masks.

    2. Andrew Diamond

      Flying to japan = masks required. I did it twice in the last two weeks (from SFO and ICN), stated and enforced required on both flights.

    3. Other Andrew Guest

      What if you're in first class and it's just you and your spouse? Looks like we're the only ones in F for our October 4th ANA flight currently.

    4. Odinson83 New Member

      ??? If I'm reading between the lines here. I'm speechless. And yes I now see you do more. Lol

  26. Justsaying Guest

    Now Hong Kong and the rest of Asia get it together or simply be left behind. :)

    1. Harry Guest

      Thailand dropped jab and testing effective Oct 1. THAT is what you call FULLY reopened

  27. Alyssa from middle of nowhere Canada Guest

    [Even though tourism has a big economic benefit to Japan, that clearly didn’t outweigh the anti-foreigner sentiment that existed.]

    That's actually not true. Contribution from foreign tourists to the Japanese economy was only less than 0.5% before COVID. Japan is not like Italy or Spain where their economies are heavily depending on tourism.

    Facts check, please.

    1. Smic8881 Member

      Alyssa, I think you read your sources wrong.
      The 0.5% seems to refer to the annual growth rate rather than the actual % contribution.
      In 2019, tourism contributed 7.3% of Japan's GDP. It dropped to 3.5% the next year.

    2. Smic8881 Member

      Data came from WTTC, in case you ask.

    3. Naoyuki Guest

      From what I gather, the 7.3% is for ALL tourism. The number for foreign tourism is about 20% of that, or close to 1.5 %.

    4. Naoyuki Guest

      Pre-pandemic, “foreign tourism revenue” has been about 1% or lower of Japanese GDP, based on one report from WTO. So Alyssa is not all that wrong.

    5. Smic8881 Member

      While the % vary from source to source I think you may be right.

    6. Bob Guest

      Ok of you insist alyssa because your 0.5% seems to be off by a decimal. Every site I just browsed in the last 15 minutes seems to be closer to 5-7%. Japan is rated #4 in generating tourism revenue and most Stat sights list tourism as a top 5 industry for the country behind agriculture and services. Pre pandemic Japan recorded upwards of $20+ trillion yearly to Japan's GDP.

  28. Graham Guest

    Gahhh we also have two seats booked in ANA F departing LAX on...10/05. Anyone have idea how it works if they go visa-free while you're in-country? I'd really hate to lose these seats, but I'd also hate to not go at all. Man, glad to see a full reopening, but really wish this was happening a week earlier!!

    1. Andrew Guest

      You need to get an evisa. To get an evisa you need a tour company to sponsor you and provide you an ERFS (you can still book your own flight and hotels, they just rubber stamp your itinerary). It costs between 15,000 to 30,000 yen per person currently. I would head over to flyertalk as there is a page with all the information. I applied for an ERFS from a tour company (got it in...

      You need to get an evisa. To get an evisa you need a tour company to sponsor you and provide you an ERFS (you can still book your own flight and hotels, they just rubber stamp your itinerary). It costs between 15,000 to 30,000 yen per person currently. I would head over to flyertalk as there is a page with all the information. I applied for an ERFS from a tour company (got it in 24 hours). I then applied for an evisa and it took 5 business days for the embassy to approve. I would highly recommend applying by tomorrow at the latest if you want to go to Japan on 10/5. Best of luck!

    2. Graham Guest

      Which one did you go with? JGA looks like it isn't accepting new applications...

    3. Andrew Guest

      I did JGA. Other people have had success with Holigoes. JGA was super easy but obviously they’re not working anymore.

    4. Anika Guest

      I would recommend https://gowithguide.com/. They told we need to book a "tour" every two days. It doesn't matter how long the duration of the tour is. For example: we go for a run with our local guide in Tokyo for one hour. The tour is 25 € for the two of us.
      The service fee you have to pay for the ERFS depends on how much money you spend and is not per person.

      ...

      I would recommend https://gowithguide.com/. They told we need to book a "tour" every two days. It doesn't matter how long the duration of the tour is. For example: we go for a run with our local guide in Tokyo for one hour. The tour is 25 € for the two of us.
      The service fee you have to pay for the ERFS depends on how much money you spend and is not per person.

      We booked all tours at the weekend and received the ERFS on the following Monday.

      Altogether they were very helpful.

      Sorry, English is not my mother tongue. But if you need more information, please feel free to contact me.

    5. Todd Guest

      That's nowhere near accurate or correct.

      As of Sept 1, You no longer need to book a tour (it's "self-guided"). You simply pay a fee to the travel agency to process the ERFS and apply for a Visa. Once you get an entry Visa, it's good for 90 days.

  29. abey Guest

    with 0 restrictions ????

  30. Andrew Guest

    Paid for an e-visa for October 4th. Glad I didn’t waste my money. Can’t wait for ANA’s F suites from JFK! Honestly thought this trip wouldn’t happen.

    1. Odinson83 New Member

      I never lose. I either win or I learn.

  31. Andrew Diamond

    Well, there goes the ANA first award availability. ;-)

    1. Todd Guest

      There was none to begin with as the Japanese government restricted the number of passengers that could enter Japan.

    2. Andrew Guest

      I have two F seats from JFK on October 4th booked with Virgin Atlantic points. They are available, but they are always snapped up immediately.

    3. Andrew Diamond

      That's not true, Todd. ANA just worked to increasingly restrict (and in the case of LAX, eliminate first cabin on some of the flights.) I took a first flight back from NRT-> SFO yesterday, but I booked it in 2021 when they were more generally available.

      Andrew guest is correct - I can find JFK availability, in case flying an extra 5 hours per direction works for west coast people. Not for me, unfortunately.

    4. Matt Guest

      My hope would be that NH changes back to the 777 on those routes (LAX, SFO, IAH) that have been operated by the 787, and that it will open some more award availability.

  32. Timo Gold

    Hello! But do they require vaccine?

    1. Alyssa from middle of nowhere Canada Guest

      Yes, Lucky wrote like Japan would be completely restrictions free. but that is Simply WRONG.
      You need to be fully 3 vaxxed to be able to enter the country without pre PCR test.
      If you haven't got any shot or only with 2 shots, you will need to get tested before your flight. This might change soon but I doubt it.

    2. Andrew Diamond

      I know opinions on this are mixed, but I would really prefer a vaccine to another brain-poke. Just got back from SK, and they did not go "gentle" on my entry test. Sinus congestion gone, at least.

    3. Alysda Guest

      There's no entry testing in Japan.
      Just pre flight pcr test (within 72hrs)is needed IF in you aren't vaccinated at all or less than 3 shots.

    4. notbad41 Guest

      What about the J&J? I don't want to get boosters.

    5. Alysda Guest

      For J&J vaxxed, you need another shot to be considered as fully 3vaxxed. If you don't want any more shots, you just need pre flight PCR test. At least for now. This gets more complicated if you are coming from non G7 countries.

  33. Todd Guest

    Figures. I just paid for an e-Visa under the current scheme for a trip in November.

    I never would have imagined Japan would move THAT quickly to fully re-open.

  34. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    "Japan’s policy up until now, allowing Japanese people to travel abroad freely, while not allowing foreigners in under most conditions."

    Which other countries should've never allowed... but I guess that's moot now.

    1. Matthewsf Guest

      Any word on if airlines like United, Singapore, etc. will be increasing their flight frequency (and seats) to increase passenger loads to return there?

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      DL is resuming nonstops to HND from LAX, ATL, MSP, and HNL, over the next few months.
      SQ is putting an additional daily A359 into NRT.

      Those are two I know off the top of my head. I'm sure plenty of others will be ramping up frequency and/or gauge as well.

  35. Mike O. Guest

    How about a trip report on ANA's A380 while you're at it?!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Alyssa from middle of nowhere Canada Guest

[Even though tourism has a big economic benefit to Japan, that clearly didn’t outweigh the anti-foreigner sentiment that existed.] That's actually not true. Contribution from foreign tourists to the Japanese economy was only less than 0.5% before COVID. Japan is not like Italy or Spain where their economies are heavily depending on tourism. Facts check, please.

4
Cam Member

Pleased as punch. I planned a week in Japan as part of my round the world honeymoon months ago, and it looks like we're all set on that front. What an enormous relief.

3
Christian Guest

I'm a resident in Tokyo and while it is true that more and more people are choosing to take off their masks outside, I'd say that it is still around 80%+ masked outdoors and 95% or so indoors, depending on where you go. It's not required but it would be the right thing to wear masks as long as Japanese people are wearing them. Not saying that is a good reason to wear masks, but it's the same as talking on the phone on the train. There's no law against it but it is best to follow local customs.

2
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT