It feels like we’ve been waiting for Japan to open for a long, long time. After two years of being completely banned, travellers are finally being allowed back into the country – albeit with a lot of restrictions.
The country reopened in April to some overseas residents, business travellers and foreign students, then it opened up its borders to limited numbers of international tourists. The current stage in Japan’s reopening is being described as a period of ‘test tourism’ – but everything could be about to get a whole load easier.
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According to Japanese news outlets, the country’s government is considering ending its requirement that all travellers take pre-departure tests. Currently, all visitors entering Japan have to produce a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.
On top of that, Japan could be about to increase its daily cap of tourists entering the country from 20,000 to 50,000, effectively doubling the number of people able to visit. Both of these changes could come into effect in the next few weeks.
For now, however, Japan remains in its ‘test tourism’ phase. The ‘tests’ come in the form of very few packaged tours, which are being analysed by the government before deciding when the country will resume normal levels of tourism. While individual tourists remain barred from visiting Japan, if you don’t mind being part of a tour company, you are free to go on that trip of a lifetime!
Needless to say, there are more than a few complications as to who can actually attend these ‘test tourism’ tours. They’re currently only open to triple-jabbed travellers from the USA, Australia, Thailand and Singapore, and all travellers have to book through travel agencies.
Currently the rules for entering Japan are complicated – to say the least. There’s currently a cap of 20,000 arrivals per day and only those from a list of 106 countries (see that list in full here) can enter.
Schools or companies have to sponsor individuals hoping to enter, and visitors must self-isolate on arrival. Currently, you need to have proof of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours before departure, a signed copy of this form (promising to comply with local Covid rules), and a completed online questionnaire. Once at the airport in Japan, you need to take another PCR test and download a health monitoring app.
The quarantine rules are slightly complicated, too. Everyone has to take a PCR test before leaving for Japan, and it must come back negative. If you’ve had three jabs, you’ll have to isolate at your accommodation for the first three days in the country, then take another test. If it’s negative, you’re all good; otherwise, you’ll have to stay there for another seven days. If you’re unvaccinated or have had fewer than three jabs, the rules are the same except you have to quarantine specifically in a hotel. Phew! We did say the rules are complicated.
In any case, there’s a decent chance that visiting Japan as an individual traveller might get a whole lot simpler very, very soon. The rules are changing regularly, so keep an eye out for updates and start planning that trip of a lifetime.