UPDATE: The Japanese government announced on May 26, 2022, that Japan will reopen for tourists visiting on packaged tours starting June 10, 2022. Here’s a quick breakdown of the details:
- Only tourists on packaged tours are allowed from June 10
- Entry limit updated from 10,000 to 20,000 people per day
- Packaged tours currently require three vaccination shots (including a booster)
- Depending on the country you’re coming from, you may not have to test upon arrival
- Gradually the restrictions on inbound tourists will be eased
- International flights into New Chitose Airport and Naha Airport resume by the end of June
We don’t know what companies are offering these packaged tours, but we’ll update this article once we know of any. This is a good sign for seeing tourism resume in Japan after two long years. We don’t know when you’ll be able to visit without a packaged tour.
This information will change, so we’ll keep you updated!
The situation with COVID-19 continues to change here in Japan and around the world. The big questions are, “Are Japan’s borders open?”, “When will Japan reopen?” and “Will Japan Open Borders in 2022?”
Japan’s borders are currently closed to tourism but slowly reopening from June for tour groups, but new visa holders are being allowed in for purposes other than tourism.
Without mincing words, no one knows for sure. We’re seeing some movement on the borders beginning to slowly reopen for tourism. Scroll down for more on that.
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 for tourism.
We’re keeping an eye on changes regarding 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 May 17, 2022. Check back often for updates.
Table of contents
Borders Slowly Reopening for Tourism
For months now people who are moving to Japan for school, work, etc, have been allowed into Japan. On May 17, 2022, the Government said they plan to accept small-scale vaccinated tour groups from the United States, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore starting in June.
These are fixed packaged tours on a trial basis and participants have to have their three COVID-19 vaccination shots.
There’s not much else for details yet, but we’ll update you once we know more.
COVID-19 Situation & Daily Life
As of now, Japan isn’t in any state of emergency. The Quasi-State of Emergency ended in March 2022. These “States of Emergencies” weren’t hard lockdowns like other countries. These were restrictions put in place for restaurants, theme parks, and businesses to reduce the capacity and put preventative measures in place.
As of May 5, 2022, there were 2320 reported cases in Tokyo and 20799 nationwide.
Overall, life carries on as normal here in Japan. With minimal restrictions but everyone wearing masks. Almost every place you visit requires you to wear a mask. I don’t see the mask-wearing changing any time soon.
Restricted Borders into Japan
As of this writing, Japan’s borders are closed to tourism and have been since early 2020. However, if you’re a resident of Japan or hold a Japanese passport, you can enter the country with a required quarantine period.
As of March 1, 2022, Japan is allowing visa holders to enter Japan, such as students. Tourist visas are not issued unless under specific circumstances for family members.
On February 17, 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that quarantine for returning Japanese Nationals and foreign residents are reduced to 3-days beginning in March. Also, foreign nationals are able to enter the country for purposes other than tourism.
Japan had a slow start with vaccinations but has picked up in the last few months. As of April 1, 2022, over 79% of the 125 million population are fully vaccinated. The country has already administered third shots and there are talks about a fourth booster shot.
Capacity at Theme Parks
Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan currently do not have any guest capacity limits, which has led to high crowds during the spring break period.
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.
Will Japan Open Borders for Tourism in 2022?
Now, when do I think Japan will reopen for tourism? 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. There’s no way to know what’s going to happen. Use what I mention here as a guide and not an absolute. 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 fully reopen until at the earliest, Fall 2022. By that, I mean without restrictions such as being in a tour group. There’s an election happening in July, so I don’t see politicians doing anything that could affect their standing.
When Japan does reopen, I think it’ll be a trickle and only allow so many people in a day. As of April 10, 10,000 visa holders for nontourism are allowed into the country, which is up from 7,000 previously.
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.
If you’re looking to visit the theme parks in 2023 in Japan, I recommend reading our article.
Signs of Reopening
We’ve seen the ease of restrictions for new nontourist visa holders including students and workers in the last few months. This is a good sign toward reopening for tourism eventually.
While we still don’t know when tourism will return, we’ll see an announcement of an announcement. I know that sounds strange but that’s how Japan handles major news. Once we see an announcement, you’ll hear about it here!
Hold on a bit longer
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 down again. Keep that in mind when booking your eventual trip.
I’ve called Japan home for the better part of a decade, and I can’t wait for you to visit and enjoy the theme parks and everything in this beautiful country.
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-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.