When Can We Travel To Japan In 2021?
LAST UPDATE: MAY 17, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is collated from official sources but general in nature. Entry requirements are subject to change at any time. Keep checking for the latest advice from your local government, embassy, or consulate to confirm any visa or entry requirements before travel.
Things around the world are gradually returning to normal as the global vaccine rollout gains momentum. While there is no exact date for the resumption of international travel just yet, we at INTRO are monitoring the situation closely. And boy, do we miss Japan! So, can we travel to Japan in 2021? Read on for the latest updates.
AM I ALLOWED TO TRAVEL TO JAPAN?
Currently, most governments are advising against all but essential international travel, including to Japan.
Entry to Japan is currently restricted for international travellers.
Japan will allow the entry of foreign nationals who need to move to Japan to study, work or join their family, with priority given to those moving to Japan. This includes Japanese nationals, holders of permanent or long term residency permits, spouses, children or direct relatives of Japanese citizens. For additional details, as well as any exemptions to this restriction/procedure, view the government source (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Travellers arriving by air are allowed to transit through Japan as long they stay in the airport departure area until their next flight.
Under normal circumstances, most nationals from countries including the UK, Europe, Australia, NZ, Canada, USA, Scandinavia and Brazil would receive a 90-day visa on arrival for free, but this exemption has been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.
Travellers who can enter Japan must present a written pledge form and quarantine questionnaire to officials on arrival.
NEGATIVE COVID RESULT
Travellers entering Japan must present a negative covid test taken 72 hours before departure.
DO I NEED A VACCINE?
A covid vaccine is not mandatory to enter Japan under the current restrictions. Nevertheless, as more of the global population is vaccinated and international travel returns, this could be implemented.
PROOF OF INSURANCE
Travel insurance is not necessary for citizens, residents, or immediate family members entering Japan.
All travellers to Japan, including Japanese nationals, are required to quarantine at a location designated by officials. On day 3 of quarantine travellers must take a covid test. Those who test negative are can then leave but must self-quarantine at home until they have spent 14 days in isolation.
In addition to quarantine, travellers must pledge to keep their location information in a Japanese covid contact-confirming application (COCOA).
OPEN TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Supermarkets and essential stores are open, but bars and restaurants are asked to close by 8pm. Spectator events are allowed but must be capped at 5,000 people and finish by 9pm. People are encouraged to refrain from non-essential outings after 8pm, but measures vary between regions. Domestic travel is strongly discouraged, and masks are highly recommended in public. For now, most tourist attractions in Japan remain closed.
Each country has different restrictions for travellers arriving from abroad.
From May 17th UK travellers can refer to the ‘traffic light’ system to determine where they can visit without quarantining on return. The green list is currently limited and Japan is on the amber list for now, but countries will move regularly as conditions change. We're keeping our fingers and toes crossed for Japan to be green-listed soon! Find out more about UK travel restrictions via this link.
For information relevant to your situation, keep up to date with local government announcements.
Like many nations, Japan is eager to reopen when it is safe to do so, but the Japanese government must prioritise the health and safety of its citizens. Travelling to Japan is currently not possible for tourism.
On March 20 2021, Japan announced that the Olympics would go ahead in July, but that international spectators would not be allowed to attend the Games. Athletes will not be required to have a vaccination to attend, but they will be asked to submit a 14-day travel plan ahead of their stay and provide a negative covid test on arrival. Regardless, there are plans to inoculate most athletes attending the games.
NOTE: This information is general and restrictions are subject to change, so keep in touch with the latest official advice from your local government and Japanese authorities.
WHEN WILL JAPAN FULLY REOPEN TO TOURISM?
Due to the groundbreaking work of scientists around the globe, the distribution of covid vaccines has ramped up at incredible speed. Vaccines will hopefully see a return to 'regular' life in the not-too-distant future. Like many countries, Japan is considering a 'vaccine passport' system that will allow safe travel. Find out more about vaccine passports from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) here.
There is speculation of travel bubbles being opened with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea, but the Japanese government has not made any official statement on when international borders will reopen.
We will update this article and our COVID page as official news breaks.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO TRAVEL TO JAPAN?
Unlike countries in Asia that are located in tropical regions, Japan has distinct Northern Hemisphere seasons. The best time of year of travel to Japan totally depends on what you want from your experience! The Winter months (December - March) are definitely cold, but you’ll get views of snow-capped mountains, be able to enjoy the ski season, and just generally experience a winter wonderland like nowhere else in Asia. Spring (April - June) is known for the famous cherry blossom season, and Summer (June - August) is HOT, humid and full of outdoor festivals. Autumn (September - November) is cooler, less crowded, and brings stunning scenes of fall foliage, making for great photos. There isn't really a bad time to travel to Japan, so whatever season you jet off in, you’re bound to have an amazing time. Good news for us eager to visit the Land of the Rising Sun as soon as the world reopens!
WHY VISIT JAPAN?
From the buzzing neon lights of the world’s most futuristic cities to ancient temples nestled on top of snowy mountains, travelling Japan is an experience you won't get anywhere else on the planet! It's a place where the future and past coexist in harmony, creating an endlessly fascinating cultural immersion that's also a truckload of fun. Combine this with some of the friendliest locals around and some of the tastiest food in the world, and you’ve got a country that should 100% be on your bucket list. Ready to say konnichiwa to Japan?
LEARN THE ART OF THE SAMURAI
Although the Samurai gave up their swords about 150 years ago, you can still visit ancient Samurai sites or watch traditional sword dancing in a theatrical performance. If watching ninjas on stage isn’t enough, you can put on a traditional kimono and hakama and participate in a performance for yourself. You can even learn to wield one of these traditional swords in the Samurai experience on our Japan Adventure tour!
EXPLORE THE NEON STREETS OF TOKYO
Definitely take a wander around Akihabara, a buzzing shopping hub in Tokyo, when travelling Japan. Here you'll find classic arcade games, Japanese photo booths, anime stores and some insane VR experiences! You'll soon see why it's known as 'Electric City'... it's like nowhere else on earth.
ZOOM ACROSS THE COUNTRY ON A BULLET TAIN
Japan’s Shinkansen, aka bullet trains, reach speeds of up to 320km/h. They zoom between cities, passing snowy peaks and forested valleys, and are hands-down one of the best ways to travel in Japan.
WANDER THROUGH THE TORII GATES
I'm sure you've seen plenty of insta shots of the famous red Torii Gates, but nothing compares to seeing their epic scale in real life. Of course, make sure you grab your own snap for the gram while you're there... you can't backpack Japan without seeing them!
STAY IN A BUDDHIST TEMPLE
If you’re looking for a meditative and relaxing escape, a night in a Buddhist temple is perfect for you. Temple lodgings, or shukub?, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences for pilgrims and curious travellers alike. Similar to a traditional Japanese ryokan, expect your quarters to be simple and minimal. You won't have a bed but will have a comfy futon, and monks will make up your room for you in the evening. During your stay, you can participate in a meditation service and observe various sacred rituals performed by a priest in the temple. We think this experience is so unique that our Japan Adventure Tour INCLUDES a one-night stay in an ancient Buddhist Temple in Koyasan!
CHASE VIEWS OF MOUNT FUJI
Finally, no trip to Japan is complete without taking in the wonder of one of its most iconic landmarks, Mount Fuji! You'll find one of the best views of Japan's tallest mountain in Hakone. If you're up for it you can even hike up the mountain itself.... but we'll settle with a view of Fuji from a 'pirate ship' on Lake Ashi.
Although we can’t travel to Japan just yet, things are looking hopeful in the not-too-distant future. Travel restrictions are beginning to ease and tourism will return with a surge in demand, so now is the time to get planning.
If travelling in Japan sounds like your kind of adventure, click through to check out our Japan small group tours here! With expertly crafted itineraries, the guidance of a knowledgable group leader, full end-to-end support, and a new group of friends to make memories with, our trips are the ultimate way to discover a new country. Oh, and did we mention that all of the activities on our itineraries are included? You heard right - everything we mention is included in the tour - no extra payments required. Travel with a group and enjoy the best of Japan, stress-free.
With flexible booking policies and complete support during this uncertain time, you can be confident when booking with INTRO.