Tourists from most countries can now enter Japan on package tours. Students, business travelers and relatives of long-term/permanent residents can also enter. In all cases, you must apply for visa. Independent tourists cannot enter yet. Here are all the details on travel restrictions, flights, and entry procedures.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple with cherries in full bloom: f11 photo / Shutterstock.com
Last update: June 27, 2022 (this page is updated every Monday)
- People from certain countries (USA, UK, Australia, NZ, Canada included) can visit Japan as part of a package tour, but you must apply for a visa in advance.
- As a rough guideline, a package tour will cost around US$2,000 per person/per week, including guides, accommodation and transport. For more details, see How to Enter Japan on a Package Tour Using the ERFS System.
- Independent travelers cannot yet enter Japan but there are signs that they will be able to do so from the fall.
- Family members of Japanese and foreign residents of Japan can visit Japan (you’ll have to apply in advance for a kinship visa – see details below).
- Foreign business travelers and students can enter Japan as long as they have the proper visa (you must apply in advance and you’ll need a sponsor in Japan).
- Quarantine and arrival testing have been eliminated for travelers from so-called “blue” countries (including most developed nations like the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and most of the EU).
- Covid vaccine proof will not be required for travelers from “blue” countries. This means you do not have to be vaccinated to enter Japan if you come from a “blue” country.
- We will update this page weekly on Mondays, Japan time.
- Japan is still closed to independent tourists, but will reopen in the future. Now is the time to start planning a trip to Japan. Contact Chris Rowthorn to start planning.
- Want to be alerted as soon as Japan announces reopening? Scroll down and sign up for our newsletter.
Odds of Japan Reopening to Independent Tourists (personal opinion/explanation below):
- June 2022: 0%
- July 2022: 30%
- August 2022: 50%
- September 2022: 85%
- October 2022: 90%
What You Need to Do Now
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, there are some things you should do now. There is a lot of pent up demand for travel to Japan, so plane tickets and accommodations should be a priority.
- Buy plane tickets: Check best deals here.
- Book hotels and ryokans: Get the best rates here.
- Buy travel insurance: Get a quote here.
Commentary by Chris
Japan’s package tour system is now running. A package tour includes accommodation, transport and guiding. It means that a guide is usually with you but some free time is possible. A package tour can be for one person, a couple, a family or a larger group. The system and application process is described here.
For those who don’t fancy a package tour, I’d suggest waiting until Japan announces a reopening to independent travelers. I think September is a fairly safe bet, but we won’t know until Japan makes an announcement.
No matter what, you should still plan with some flexibility, check rescheduling and cancellation fees for plane tickets, and have Plan B in mind if Japan does not reopen in time for your trip.
But, keep this in mind: Right now, Japan is incredibly cheap. Unlike the West, there hasn’t been much inflation in Japan in the last two years. And the yen is back near the level it was in 1992, when I first arrived in Japan. So, Japan will feel like an incredible bargain. And, because it will take a while before people catch on that Japan is open, you will be able to experience Japan without the crowds.
What could be better? No crowds and incredibly low prices! The time to visit Japan will be as soon as Japan opens. Be ready to act fast!
As always, I will keep you posted. Please check back here and sign up for our newsletter to be informed of the latest news by email blast.
How to Enter Japan on a Package Tour with the ERFS System
You can enter Japan as part of a package tour offered by a travel company legally registered in Japan. That company will apply online via Japan’s Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (ERFS). They will issue you a document that you take to the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate (I believe sending it in by post or courier is also possible). They will then stamp a short-term entry visa into your passport. For all the details, please visit our How to Enter Japan on a Package Tour Using the ERFS System.
Do You Need to Be Vaccinated to Enter Japan?
Japan has just instituted a color scheme to classify countries as blue, yellow or red. Travelers from blue countries do not have to show proof of covid vaccination, do not have to be tested on arrival in Japan, and do not have to quarantine on arrival. Blue countries currently include the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. For the full list of countries on the blue, yellow and red lists, see the MOFA page on covid restrictions. For other covid entry restrictions see the MOFA page on resuming travel. Note, regardless of country of origin and vaccination status, all travelers must have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding your flight to Japan.
Details of “Kinship Visa” Entry
Close relatives of Japanese nationals and foreign permanent and long-term residents of Japan can now enter Japan provided they apply in advance.
It’s rather confusing, but the Japan Times reports the following people can visit Japan on a kinship visa:
- Family members within the first degree of kinship to teijūsha (long-term foreign residents) who want to come to Japan to visit their family. (First-degree kinship is defined as children and parents, while second-degree kinship refers to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.)
- Family members within the first and second degrees of kinship to Japanese nationals and permanent residents who want to come to Japan to visit their family.
So, here’s the gist: If you have a Japanese relative living in Japan, you can probably visit. And, if you have a spouse, parent or child who is living in Japan as a permanent resident (eijusha, 永住者) or long-term resident (teijusha, 定住者) you can visit (one of those things must be written on their residence card). Not all foreigners living in Japan are classified as long-term or permanent residents. Many people on student or work visas are not long-term residents. The easiest way to check is to get your contact in Japan to look at their residence card (on which their status will be written in English and Japanese). Foreign military personnel are generally not classified as long-term residents.
Here are some key points:
- If you qualify for a kinship visa, you can visit for social (ie, non-emergency) purposes and you are free to travel anywhere in the country.
- Your relative in Japan will have to supply some paperwork. Japanese nationals will have to supply a koseki-tohon (family registry). Permanent and long-term residents will have to supply a copy, scan or photo of their residence card and juminhyo (residence certificate). Note that the relative does not have to live in Japan.
- If you are a first-degree relative of Japanese citizen, even if the citizen doesn’t live in Japan, you can visit on kinship visa. But you will still need a koseki tohon of the Japanese citizen issued within three months in order to apply.
- You do not need health insurance to enter Japan on kinship visa, but it’s strongly recommended.
- The whole application process takes around 5 or 6 weeks, but you may be able to move things along a little faster.
The Japan Consulate in Los Angeles has an excellent fact sheet on the kinship visa process.
The Japan Consulate in Seattle has a good checklist of the materials you must submit.
Finally, the government has just announced that acquaintances and relatives up to the sixth degree can visit Japanese nationals and long-term foreign residents to provide medical care or attend a wedding or funeral. For details, contact the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate (see also the Japan Times article below).
Latest Japan Coronavirus News
- Japan Times: Weekly COVID-19 Updates and Bulletins Roundup – June 23
- Japan Times: Family of Foreign Residents Can Now Enter Japan
- Japan Times: Package Tours To Be Allowed From June 10
- Japan Times: Extended Relatives of Residents to Be Allowed to Enter
- Japan Times: Travel Agents Rush to Meet Covid Guidelines
Is Japan Open for Travel Now?
Foreign business travelers and students can enter Japan provided they have the proper visa (apply in advance at the nearest Japan embassy or consulate – you will need a sponsor in Japan). Also, some relatives of Japanese nationals, permanent residents and long-term residents can enter (see the above “Kinship Visa” section for details). Tourists from certain countries can enter Japan on package tours but must apply for a visa in advance. Free, independent tourists are not yet allowed but we expect this to happen in the early fall.
Please check the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs site (MOFA) for the latest details. Because that page is quite confusing, you may also want to call the Japanese embassy or consulate nearest you.
Alternatively, the United States Embassy in Tokyo has the clearest information on the specifics of the new entry policy here (scroll down to “Entry and Exit Requirements”). Another good source is the ANA website.
What Will You Need to Enter Japan When It Reopens?
- A negative COVID test will likely be necessary within 72 hours of boarding your flight to Japan. You’ll almost certainly be asked to show proof of this when you check in for your flight, and you’ll have to show it to Japanese immigration upon arrival. At this point, there are two acceptable tests: the PCR test and the CLEIA quantitative antigen test. You might start researching where you can get such a test on this timetable, including airports where such testing services are available.
- If worst comes to worst, you want to be sure that your travel insurance policy. World Nomads policies do cover COVID treatment. For more details, visit our travel insurance page.
We will continue to monitor developments around opening closely. As soon as Japan announces the details, we will publish them here. We aim to give full details on entry requirements, application procedures, and actual experiences with entering Japan, so check back frequently.
Flights to Japan Currently Operating
Here are cities with direct flights to Japan and the airlines that operate them. Most flights go to Tokyo (Narita or Haneda), but some flights also go to Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto). Most flights here are not daily, but a few times a week.
Japan Airlines planes at Narita International Airport: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
- Vancouver: Air Canada, ANA, Japan Airlines, American Airlines
- Seattle: ANA, Japan Airlines, Delta, American, United
- San Francisco: United, American, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Los Angeles: Zipair, United, American, ANA, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines
- Chicago: United, American, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Dallas/Fort Worth: American, Japan Airlines
- Atlanta: Delta
- New York: United, American, ANA, Japan Airlines
- London: ANA, Japan Airlines
- Paris: Air France, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Frankfurt: Lufthansa, ANA, Japan Airlines, Finnair, British Airways
- Helsinki: Finnair, British Airways, Japan Airlines
- Istanbul: Turkish Airlines, ANA
- Sydney: Qantas, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Bangkok: Thai, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia X, ZIPAIR, ANA, Japan Airlines
- KL: Malaysia, ANA, Japan Airlines
- HCMC: Viet Jet Air, Vietname, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Hong Kong: Cathay, Hong Kong Express, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Taipei: China Airlines, EVA, Scoot, Starlux, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Singapore: Singapore Airlines, ZIPAIR, ANA, Japan Airlines
- Seoul: Korean Air, Asiana, Ethiopian, ANA, Japan Airlines
Here are links to Japanese airlines COVID-19 countermeasures pages:
Hotels Emphasizing Safety and Hygiene in Japan
Almost all hotels in Japan are taking extreme precautions to make their properties as safe as possible. Other forms of accommodation are also taking extensive safety measures. Click the links below for the details on their COVID countermeasures.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo guest room
Japan Coronavirus Information
At the time of writing, Japan has been experiencing around 14,000 new cases a day, according to the Japan COVID-19 Tracker. Japan has had around total 73,500 cases per million people. The Omicron wave has peaked and cases are falling rapidly.
Here is a useful link for the latest coronavirus numbers on Japan:
People wearing masks in Kobe: Hinochika / Shutterstock.com
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)