It’s no secret that 2020 has been a complete write-off. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has thrown this entire year off its axis. I realize that many Explorers had their hearts set on travelling to Japan in 2020. I even wrote an article that didn’t age well, at all.
With all the travel bans, pushed back openings, and a general sense of unknowing. I don’t think you should be travelling to Japan this year. Wait until 2021.
Even with things reopening in Japan, it pains me to say it, but you really need to wait.
Delayed or Cancelled Events
As a theme park fan, there was a lot to look forward to with the new Beauty and the Beast attraction at Tokyo Disneyland and the highly-anticipated Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. Both of these massive openings have been delayed until further notice.
Not to mention the delay of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games until 2021. Other major events such as the Tokyo Game Show 2020, have been cancelled too.
It’s so hard to say what events or grand openings are going to happen in 2020.
Things Work Differently
Social distancing measures are now a part of our every day, no matter where you are in the world, and Japan is no different. On top of that, capacity for Universal Studios Japan or Tokyo Disney Resort are reduced for the time being. Meaning, if you get into the country (more on travel bans in a moment), there’s a chance it’ll be even more tough getting into popular attractions throughout the country.
With that said, there are plenty of things to do in Japan that’s non-theme park related but I know many readers here want to experience the parks too.
The one thing that doesn’t work differently is wearing a mask. If you’re in Japan, you wear one.
It’s that simple.
As of this writing, Japan has travel bans in place that don’t allow travellers from a number of countries into Japan. That means you’ll be denied entry into Japan, even if you have a valid visa.
It’s not known when these travel bans are going to be lifted.
Some of the bans are being eased this summer for business travellers from select countries. However, this doesn’t include Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore, or the United States of America. There’s a chance of a travel bubble from countries like Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and others on this side of the world in the near future.
It’s impossible to say what will happen. I don’t think it’s worth the stress of worrying about if the borders will reopen or close suddenly.
For more on travel bans check with your government’s website.
Into the Unknown
Japan had its state of emergency lifted from the entire country in May. Since then infection numbers have slowly begun to creep up again. The numbers are on the low end while comparing to other countries, but it’s something to be wary of.
When Japan closed its borders, the government did so with incredibly short notice (40 hours). Even legal residents of Japan aren’t able to return to the country. I got lucky when I came back to Japan a few days before the borders closed. If I didn’t come back in time, I’d be in Canada right now.
Once Japan reopens its borders, what’s to say the government won’t close them again with short notice? That could leave you stranded. Japan won’t hesitate to close borders again if the government felt it was necessary. That’s important to keep in mind.
Things are changing rapidly and unexpectedly, it’s too stressful to even fathom what the rest of the year could hold.
What Should You Do Then?
For those Explorers who haven’t booked anything yet, wait until 2021. I don’t think international travel is viable for the remainder of the year unless travel bubbles become a thing.
Some of you may have a trip already booked for later this year. Depending on where you reside, the refund policies will differ. Scott’s Cheap Flights, based in the US, has the most comprehensive resource for how to get a refund for flights. I trust them 100%.
The best piece of advice for those who have hotels, flights, or other experiences already booked, is to wait. If you cancel on your own, you may have to pay a penalty. Of course, this varies across the board. It’s up to you to check the refund policy.
It sucks, I know. I want you to have the best experience during your travels. You’re not going to experience Japan at its best right now. There’s too much uncertainty at this point.
Visit Japan in 2021, you’ll (hopefully) experience Japan to its full potential. We’ll have to wait and see.