Japan has done extremely well against the coronavirus. We expect Japan to start opening to foreign travelers in the next few months. Here are all the details on travel restrictions, flights, hygienic hotels, outbreak information and safe travel tips.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple with cherries in full bloom: f11 photo / Shutterstock.com
Last update: July 13, 2020 (this page is updated every Monday)
- Japan will soon control the coronavirus outbreak within its borders.
- The state of emergency has been lifted and there are no restrictions on business or domestic travel within Japan.
- Almost all foreign nationalities are barred from visiting Japan now.
- Japan is planning to start admitting business travelers from Vietnam, Brunei, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand in the next few months.
- Early in the fall, Japan is expected to begin accepting business travelers from the United States, China and South Korea.
- We will update this page weekly on Mondays, Japan time.
Latest Japan Coronavirus News
- Japan Times: Japan government in talks with Taiwan and Brunei to begin reopening travel
- Japan Times: Japan to build coronavirus testing centers near Narita, Haneda and Kansai airports
- Japan Times: Japan in talks with China, Korean and 8 other Asian nations to ease travel restrictions
- Bloomberg: Japan restarting pro baseball with fans
- JR East: Japan Rail’s anti-COVID countermeasures
Visas and Travel Restrictions
At present, non-Japanese are barred from visiting or transiting Japan. As mentioned above, Japan plans to start admitting business travelers from countries that have controlled their outbreaks (Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Brunei, Australia, and New Zealand) or have close ties to Japan (such as the United States, South Korea and China). We will publish details here as they are released.
Passports and visas
Japanese Government Visa and Travel Restriction Pages
Flights to Japan Currently Operating
Here are cities with direct flights to Japan and the airlines that operate them. Most flights to go Tokyo (Narita or Haneda), but a few flights from Asia also go to Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto). Air Asia has also started a flight from Bangkok to Fukuoka (Kyushu). Most flights here are not daily, but a few times a week.
At present, this information is only relevant to Japanese citizens and permanent residents due to travel restrictions. We expect this situation to change soon and we will update every Monday.
Japan Airlines planes at Narita International Airport: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
- Vancouver: Air Canada, ANA, Japan Airlines
- San Francisco: United, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Los Angeles: United, American, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Chicago: United, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Dallas/Fort Worth: Japan Airlines
- New York: United, ANA, Japan Airlines
- London: British Airways, Japan Airlines
- Paris: ANA, Japan Airlines
- Frankfurt: Lufthansa, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Helsinki: Japan Airlines, Finnair
- Istanbul: Turkish Airlines
- Sydney: ANA, Japan Airlines
- Auckland: Air New Zealand
- Bangkok: Bangkok Airways, ANA
- KL: Malaysian, Air Asia, ANA, Japan Airlines
- HCMC: Vietnam, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Hong Kong: HK Express, Cathay Pacific, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Taipei: EVA Air, ANA, Japan Airlines, China Airlines
- Singapore: Singapore Airlines, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Seoul: Korean Air, Asiana, Jin Air, ANA, Japan Airlines
Here are links to Japanese airlines COVID-19 countermeasures pages:
Hotels Emphasizing Safety and Hygiene in Japan
If you stay in a hotel before flying to Japan and then stay in a hotel after arriving, you are likely to notice a huge difference, particularly if coming from North America. In Japan, all staff will be wearing masks, hand sanitizer will be widely available, social distancing will be clearly enforced, and your temperature will likely be taken when you check in. The fact is, they’ve got this stuff down to a science in Japan. But even with all hotels instituting good health practices, there are some that really stand out (click the links for the details on their COVID-19 countermeasures):
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo guest room
Japan Coronavirus Information
At the time of writing, Japan has been averaging around 250 new cases a day, mostly coming out of the nightlife district of Shinjuku, in Tokyo. Cases have been increasing in the last two weeks or so, which some people attribute to relaxation of anti-viral measures. Kyoto has very few active cases. Japan has had around 140 cases per million people, which is a fraction of the case numbers seen in North America and much of Europe.
Here is a useful link for the latest coronavirus numbers on Japan:
People wearing masks in Kobe: Hinochika / Shutterstock.com
There is a lot of debate about why Japan has had such low case numbers, given the slow early response by the government and lack of a total lockdown. We believe that the reasons are as follows, in rough order of importance:
- Near universal mask wearing
- Healthy population
- Frequent hand washing
- Accurate contact tracing
- High social cohesion and conformity to rules
- Quiet or no talking in crowded areas and on public transport
Tips for Safe Travel in Japan
Here are some useful tips to ensure a safe trip during these unusual times.
- Masks are available at drug stores, supermarkets and some department stores. You can also pick them up at airports in Japan. If you can’t find them, you can simply ask someone: “masuku arimasu-ka?” (Do you have masks?) or show them this: マスクを探しています。
- Hand sanitizer is available at most places that sell masks (see above).
- If you want as much distance around you as possible on trains, consider green cars, especially on the shinkansen.
- Many restaurants in Japan offer private rooms, which are called “koshitsu.” Your hotel concierge can help you locate such restaurants and reserve them for you.
- Consider visiting popular destinations early in the morning or just before they close in the late afternoon. Or, consider visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations.
- Avoid crowded areas. Here are some tips on how to avoid the crowds in Kyoto.
Kyoto in cherry blossom season: f11 photo / Shutterstock.com
More Useful Information
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- Get travel insurance for Japan - World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)