Japan’s borders finally reopened to independent travelers in October 2022, and visiting Japan now is virtually as easy as it was before the pandemic.
From the early days of Covid-19, our team of Japan travel experts has been closely monitoring developments and in constant contact with our network throughout the country. We update this page regularly (and whenever there are major updates) and it was last updated on February 16, 2023.
Here’s what you need to know:
Here is an easy-to-digest summary of Japan’s entry requirements for tourists. For the most official details, please always make sure to contact your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate.
In the early days of Japan’s reopening, visas were required for all travelers, but no more! Now, independent travelers from dozens of countries are once again able to visit Japan visa-free.
Travelers can choose between Japan’s vaccine requirement or taking a pre-trip Covid test.
Visit Japan Web is an online application that helps travelers and the Japanese government streamline arrival procedures.
To begin your registration, follow the instructions on the government’s Visit Japan Web page (registration should be completed a few days before your trip, but the government recommends not registering more than two weeks in advance).
Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be prompted to enter personal details such as your full name, date of birth, passport number, flight details, and intended address in Japan (for example, your hotel).
Next you can begin entering key details to help you speed through quarantine, immigration, and customs.
For quarantine “fast track,” you will need to upload a clear scan or photo of your passport and wait for the image to be accepted by the system.
After this, you can complete a short questionnaire.
Finally, submit your vaccine certificate (or, if applicable, test result). Once submitted, you’ll need to wait a few hours or more for your upload to be reviewed by the authorities.
While you wait for your fast track documentation to be reviewed, you can also fill out your “disembarkation card” for immigration, and “declaration of personal effects and unaccompanied articles” for customs.
Once successfully completed, you will be provided with QR codes for each step of the entry process (quarantine, immigration, and customs). For a smooth arrival, make sure to have your QR codes handy for offline access.
Interest in travel to Japan has skyrocketed over the last few months, and we recommend starting the planning process early.
Thanks to massive pent-up demand and a backlog of postponed trips, availability for great guides and Japan’s best hotels and ryokans is already very limited for busy periods. If you have flexible dates and don’t mind missing the cherry blossoms or fall foliage, consider visiting during a less crowded season.
Considering a trip with us? Please see our current availability.
Japan, which is much larger than most people realize (with a population of 126 million), has fared remarkably well, especially when it comes to important metrics such as mortality.
It has also done so without relying on lockdowns or other mandates. At times in the past, the country was under a so-called “state of emergency,” though the impact of these was generally less disruptive than the strict lockdowns endured elsewhere.
Health and safety are taken very seriously in Japan, and travelers are often amazed by Japan’s cleanliness (along with Japanese food, it’s one of the best things about Japan). Japan’s deep-rooted culture of respect, an integral part of Japanese etiquette, certainly helps.
Like elsewhere, travel providers in Japan — from hotels and ryokans, to bullet trains and airlines — invested in revamping sanitation procedures to enhance the safety of both travelers and staff. As you enter hotel premises or other buildings, you may encounter non-contact thermometers which will take your body temperature before you enter.
Masks are not legally mandated in Japan, but Japanese people have been accustomed to wearing them for years. People typically wear masks during allergy seasons, and as a precautionary measure to avoid spreading colds or flus. During the pandemic, mask wearing became virtually universal, though it’s possible that this will diminish as Japan continues towards living with Covid. Regardless, it’s safe to expect masks to be significantly more prevalent than in places like the United States or Europe.
In case of unexpected border restrictions, we offer a flexible rescheduling policy:
To offer this, we require at least 30 days’ notice prior to your trip’s start date. This enables us to give your guides, accommodations, and other service providers advance notice (our relationships with hotels, ryokans, guides, and local experts are sacred to us, and a key facet of the trips we offer).
In rare cases, there may be a certain service with a less flexible policy, and if this comes up we will promptly inform you.
Please note that if you cancel, as opposed to rescheduling, our regular Booking Terms and Conditions apply. If you have any questions about our policies, please don’t hesitate to ask!
The topic of travel insurance was already complex even before Covid-19, and now has become even more convoluted.
Fortunately, the majority of reputable insurance companies do now offer at least some pandemic coverage. Not every single potential issue is necessarily covered, but some key ones — for example, if you get Covid-19 and cannot travel — are covered by many.
Pandemic or not, we’ve always recommended comprehensive travel insurance, which can help protect you both financially and medically. For example, if you have to change or cancel your plans last-minute for a covered reason, or if you need to access medical care during your trip. It can also prove worth the investment in case of more minor issues, which can nevertheless wreak havoc on travel plans, such as unexpected flight changes, lost luggage, etc.
However, even the best policies don’t cover everything. For example, even among policies that offer a degree of pandemic coverage, most do not protect against border closures or other travel restrictions. This is why many travelers opt for “Cancel for Any Reason” (sometimes abbreviated as CFAR) coverage. Travelers with CFAR are more likely to be eligible to receive at least some insurance reimbursement for a broader range of reasons.
As far as providers go, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection is one good option for luxury travelers. Many of our travelers also work with Travelex, Travel Guard, Allianz, and RoamRight (to compare various policies side by side, refer to the insurance marketplaces SquareMouth and InsureMyTrip). For a different level of protection, more and more travelers are also looking to solutions like Medjet and Covac Global.
To make sure you get a policy that meets your specific needs, we strongly recommend you speak directly with a travel insurance provider. Let’s not mince words: insurance is not a fun topic, but in the Covid era it’s a travel essential.
We’d love to help you make your long-awaited Japan adventure a reality.
To begin planning your completely customized trip, visit our contact page for the best ways to get in touch!
Andres founded Boutique Japan to share his passion and enthusiasm for Japan, and over the years he has had the opportunity to help countless wonderful travelers from around the world experience Japan in a truly personal and immersive way.
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Learn more and contact us to discuss your unique trip.
Thank you for considering Boutique Japan to help you plan your custom trip to Japan! Before reaching out to us, please make sure to read the below as it contains important information about our services.
We love working with travelers from around the world, but please keep in mind that we are a small, independent company and simply cannot help everyone who reaches out to us.
As demand is always high for Japan's most unique hotels and ryokans (and the best local guides and experts), we typically suggest planning nine to twelve months in advance, particularly for peak seasons such as spring and fall.
Due to overwhelming demand, we are fully booked for the next several months, and can only consider inquiries for trips taking place in December 2023 and later. Because our team of Japan specialists is small, there are times when we cannot assist even if your travel dates align with our general availability.