When Will Japan Reopen Its Borders? (January 2022 Update)



Japan’s borders are currently closed to non-residents, which includes tourists.

The situation with COVID-19 continues to change here in Japan and around the world. The big questions 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.

I implore you to keep an eye on your Government’s travel advisory website, the JNTO website, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for any updates regarding the border restrictions into Japan.

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 January 19, 2022. Check back often for updates.

COVID-19 Situation

Yasaka-no-to Pagoda Kyoto Japan
Kyoto, Japan

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. 

This last “State of Emergency” was lifted on October 1, 2021.

On January 19, 2022, Japan announced Tokyo and 12 other areas (including Chiba) are under quasi-State of Emergency beginning January 21, 2022, until February 13, 2022.

Restricted Borders into Japan

Himeji Castle Japan
Himeji Castle

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 can enter the country with a required quarantine period.

The borders to Japan have been closed to tourism since early 2020.

Japan is easing the quarantine for vaccinated business travellers from 10 days to 3 days beginning Monday, November 8. The article also states it’ll resume entry to students and technical trainees. We’re beginning to see movement on visa restrictions into the country! Still no word on tourism.

Beginning on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, Japan is re-imposing its ban on new foreign arrivals to Japan (students, etc.) due to concerns over the Omicron variant. This ban is extended until the end of February 2022. Citizens and foreign residents are still able to re-enter the country.

Vaccination Rates

Japan had a slow start with vaccinations but has picked up in the last few months. As of January 8, 2022, over 79% of the 125 million population are fully vaccinated, making Japan one of the top 3 G-7 countries for vaccination rates. This puts Japan almost on par with Italy and second to Canada. 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

Super Nintendo World Banners Universal Studios Japan-15
Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan

Restrictions have affected the theme parks in Japan, including Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan. As of November 1, 2021, Tokyo Disney Resort increased its capacity and hours. Both Resorts can now expand 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?

Digital Art Museum Tokyo Japan
Digital Art Museum in Tokyo

When do I think Japan will reopen? 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 reopen until Spring Summer 2022. When the country reopens, I don’t think many places will instantly go back to “normal” when borders reopen.

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.

Sakura Cherry Blossoms Japan
Sakura during the spring in Japan

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-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.

Sources

Here’s a list of resources that I check daily for the latest information regarding the border closures in Japan and other countries worldwide.

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7 Comments

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  1. john

    Thanks for the information Chris. This is the single most critical information that I need to know before booking my Japan trip, which is primarily for Tokyo Disney and USJ.

    I do hope Japan will reopen sometime within this Q4 as most countries(which were on lockdown) are starting to reopening their borders. Anyways, if TDR does provide services to purchase the hotel and park tickets (fuss free), it would be a great addon and pls let us know as I for one could benefit from such services.

    Keep up the good work Chris, loving your TDR YouTube videos !

  2. Trudie

    Thanks Chris. I noticed that we can now buy flights from Gold Coast to Tokyo for next April. But I think it’s just too risky.

  3. Steve

    I have a trip booked for late March / April 2022 and I’m thinking that there’s a 50:50 chance of it happening. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to push it back to the Autumn. Like you say in your (excellent) article, it’s not just a question of the borders re-opening to tourists, it’s also a question of quarantine and what the overall experience will be like for tourists.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts about what you think the initial reception will be for foreign tourists? On my previous trip to Japan the people were absolutely lovely, without exception. But I’ve read lots about the Japanese “scapegoating” foreigners for COVID in Japan, being very suspicous/wary of foreigners due to COVID, and being against the borders re-opening. Do you think there’s any truth in this? Will the Japanese be nervous of foreign tourists in the first few months?

  4. Alison

    My family was booked for March 2020 (which has been postponed to 2021). I’m not confident the borders will be fully open by then and while for most people “Japan will still be there when you can travel”, one of my party will turn 80 next year so time really is not on our side unfortunately. It took a LOT of persuasion to get the person to book for 2020 following the death of their partner the previous year but they are now terrified of a long haul flight to the other side of the world and getting stuck over there if the borders close again / they get sick etc. Add a daughter about to start High School August next year and it gets even more messy as there’s term dates to consider and whether it’ll coincide with the Easter holidays or not.

    Fingers crossed the borders will open (we’ll give it till the start of January before making a final decision). I also don’t think Japanese people will want a load of tourists arriving from Europe / America given some people’s attitude towards face mask wearing and vaccinations there. I don’t blame them in all honesty – I wouldn’t want hoards of people arriving and not complying with advice to wear face coverings either.

  5. Edwin

    Hi Chris! I am part of a dance organization planning a huge dance competition at the Hilton Tokyo Bay with tickets to the Disney resort. Are there any restrictions on large gatherings at the moment? Our event is scheduled for September, but would still like to plan ahead. Thank you for your videos and always keeping us up to date!

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