Enoshima Yacht Harbour (photo by Toshiko Sakurai)
Japan has reopened to visa-free travel from dozens of countries around the world as of Tuesday, October 11, eliminating its daily entry cap on tourist arrivals and making it easier for visitors to plan their own getaway to the country without a qualified booking through an approved travel agency or tour operator.
After two-plus years of implementing some of the strictest COVID-related border policies in the world, the marquee Asian destination is welcoming back individuals for travel and tourism purposes without cumbersome quarantine or testing requirements.
Nonetheless, there are still some important things travelers will want to know before they go, including the requirement that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or present proof of a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure upon entry.
Keep in mind that proof of full inoculation against the virus requires a (third) booster shot. Otherwise, only those displaying COVID symptoms will be subject to testing and or quarantine at entry.
The visa exemption allows smooth travel for passport holders from 68 different countries, including the U.S. and Canada and many throughout Europe.
While the country’s flag carrier Japan Airlines has seen inbound bookings triple since the announcement that Japan would relax entry restrictions last month—according to Reuters—the Japanese government is being proactive in luring visitors back by starting a domestic travel initiative featuring discounts on transportation and accommodations.
However, the prolonged period of limited international visitors means that travelers to Japan this fall and in the coming months should anticipate staffing shortages throughout the various sectors of travel and tourism, from the airport to their hotel and beyond.
Reuters reports that roughly half of the 260 shops and restaurants within Narita Airport outside of Tokyo remain closed while nearly 73 percent of hotels across the country believe they are short of regular workers as of August.
The State Department’s latest travel advisor recommends that Americans reconsider travel to Japan due to pandemic-related entry restrictions but that Level 3 notification is likely to change in the wake of Tuesday’s reopening.
For the latest, however, U.S. travelers can visit the official website of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan and be sure to book their visit through a trusted travel advisor.
Travel and visa requirements
Currently, most travelers from United States can enter Japan without proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.