The situation with COVID-19 continues to change here in Japan and around the world. The big questions right now are, “Are Japan’s borders open?” and “When will Japan reopen?” Without mincing words, no one knows for sure.
I’ll do my best to give you information about what’s happening here in Japan. Also, my personal opinion on when I think the borders to Japan will open.
We’re keeping an eye on changes in regards to the closed borders for tourism to Japan. Join our mailing list below, and we’ll send out a notification when we see lifted travel restrictions!
Here’s what we know so far as of October 1, 2021. Check back often for updates.
Table of contents
The country went through another wave of infections due to the Delta variant. Many prefectures around Japan were under a “State of Emergency,” which included 21 of the 47 regions in Japan, including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka, and others. This State of Emergency isn’t a hard lockdown but more asking businesses and restaurants to close early and limit admission.
Restricted Borders into Japan
As of this writing, Japan’s borders are closed to tourism. However, if you’re a resident of Japan or hold a Japanese passport, you’re able to enter the country with a required quarantine period.
The borders to Japan have been closed to tourism since early 2020.
Japan had a slow start with vaccinations but has picked up in the last few months. As of October 1, 2021, about 70% of the population has received their first shot, with 60% fully vaccinated. There are talks about what to do when Japan reaches 80%.
The vaccination rate will be a factor in when Japan will reopen.
Capacity at Theme Parks
Restrictions have affected the theme parks in Japan, including Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan. Both Resorts are now able to increase their daily capacity per park from 5,000 guests to 10,000 guests.
In Japan and most parts of Asia, mask-wearing is commonplace even before the pandemic. In Japan, everyone wears masks without issue, and it’s socially expected of you to wear one. Many establishments make it mandatory to wear a mask, and you’ll be restricted entry if you don’t comply.
I expect wearing masks will continue for a long while, even after borders reopen for tourism. That means make sure masks are on your packing list.
When Will Japan Reopen for Tourists?
When do I think Japan will reopen? Well, first, I want to begin by saying that these are my personal opinions, and there’s a good chance I’m entirely wrong, right, or somewhere in the middle. Use what I mention here as a guide and not an absolute. There’s no way to know what’s going to happen. I’ve linked my sources at the end of the article for reference for you.
OK, let’s get on with it.
I think that borders to Japan for tourism won’t reopen until Spring 2022 at the earliest. When the country does reopen, I don’t think many places will instantly go back to “normal” the moment borders reopen.
What I mean is we may still see restrictions throughout the country, such as closures, restricted entry (aka tricky to get into), and limited availability, for a while after the reopened borders.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Signs of Reopening
The telltale sign for movement towards reopening the borders is once we see the processing of work and student visas begin again.
In 2020, when Japan suddenly closed its borders, it left many people stranded both inside the country and outside. Including legal foreign residents. If, for some reason, COVID reaches another critical level after reopening borders, nothing stops the Government from suddenly shutting again. Keep that in mind when booking your eventual trip.
I don’t say that to scare you, but to give you information to help you make the best decisions for yourself.
I’ve called Japan for the better part of a decade, and I can’t wait for you to visit, enjoy the Parks and everything in this beautiful country. We have to hold out a little longer, wear our masks, ensure we’re vaccinated, and keep each other safe.
It’ll get better eventually. It’s just going to continue to suck for a bit longer. Japan will be here when you’re ready to visit. We’ll be here too, ready to provide you with the best and updated information on how to experience the theme parks in Japan and the rest of Asia.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave them in the comments.
Here’s a list of resources that I check daily for the latest information regarding the border closures in Japan and other countries worldwide.