When Will Japan Reopen for Individual Tourists? (October 2022 Update)

When will Japan lift its travel ban and reopen for international individual travelers? Will borders open as normal in Fall 2022? These are questions among those planning trips to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, etc. We monitor foreign visitor advisories, news, and more for answers. (Updated October 1, 2022.)

The good news is that we now have an answer to those threshold questions we’ve been asking for nearly two years: Japan Will Reopen to Individual Tourists in October 2022! There are still some unknowns, but Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offered new guidance that we’re covering in Japan Reopening to Individual Tourists: FAQ, Rules & Guidelines. That’ll help you prepare for arrival, and potentially save time at the airport.

We will be reporting from Japan extensively in the coming weeks about our experiences, what it’s like as a foreign visitor in 2022 (and early 2023), what has changed, crowd conditions, expenses of visiting Japan in 2022-2023 with the weaker yen, and much more.

Please subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and stay tuned if you’re not visiting until December 2022 or later and are curious about how things are on-the-ground for tourists in Japan post-reopening.

We typically spend a couple of months in Japan each year, and are ecstatic to be returning after nearly 3 years away. We are eager to revisit our favorite places, see friends in Japan for the first time in over two years, and continue creating this site’s wealth of free planning resources. We’re excited about this great (but overdue) news, but also go in knowing that things will be different, in ways both good and bad.

For these two-plus years, we’ve been closely monitoring the situation in Japan, watching several hours of NHK each day and reading multiple Japanese news sources. All of this in the hope for some clarity as to when the country will fully reopen and Japan will begin allowing international tourists to enter once again.

What follows is based on that research and fixation with the on-the-ground situation in Japan. We’re preserving this for posterity, but everything that follows is now (thankfully!) obsolete information. Refer to the links above for the latest on Japan’s October 11, 2022 reopening to individual tourists!

Japan is now allowing foreign nationals to enter Japan for purposes other than tourism so long as they have a sponsor in the country. This includes business travelers on short stays, students in study abroad programs, participants in technical internships, both guided & unguided tour groups, spouses or children (and other relatives) of a Japanese national/permanent resident, others with special exceptional circumstances, and those who would provide a “public benefit” to Japan.

This excludes individual tourists. It is still not possible to visit Japan for self-guided tourism right now, and won’t be possible until early October 2022. That’s the vast majority of foreign visitors, especially those reading an English language post on a website with “travel” in the name.

With that in mind, let’s cover how we got here, why Japan maintains the strictest among the Group of Seven developed nations, and what could cause that to change.

Again and again, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that Japan “will continue to consider how the measures should be by taking into account the infection situations at home and abroad, border control measures taken by other nations, and progress in the rollout of vaccine boosters.”

Kishida has also acknowledged that Japan’s border control measures are the strictest among Group of Seven nations, and expressed a desire/need to bring Japan in line with its counterparts. “This is the first step in our gradual easing of the [border] restrictions,” Kishida has said.

As for why Japan’s border is still closed over a year after most democracies reopened, that can largely be explained by the country’s apprehensiveness of outsiders.

For better or worse, Japan is an insular and culturally conservative country–a characteristic that is often valued by visitors. Not so much in the last couple of years, as this has been reflected in policy-making. Japan has vilified and scapegoated foreigners and had an overly aggressive approach to its borders.

Due to this and other policies, Japan has lagged behind economically, seeing slower recovery than the United States and other counterparts that have more aggressively reopened. Economic benefits of international tourists is one big reason why Japan is expected to reopen its border.

Boosting tourism was core to the late former Prime Minister Abe’s economic revitalization, and both subsequent prime ministers have indicated their intentions to maintain continuity with those plansHowever, the number of foreign visitors to Japan dropped to 245,900 last year, the lowest since 1964, as the country enforced tighter border controls. Compared with the pre-pandemic level in 2019, it dropped 99.2 percent. That’s the sharpest fall on record according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

Economists fear a “double dip” recession in Japan due to the prolonged closures and restrictions. Decreased tourism plus falling exports, an increased consumption tax, reduced consumer spending, weak yen, and growing national debt. Japan’s economy has serious issues and inbound tourism was previously a bright spot.

In other words, reopening to international visitors will be important to the health of Japan’s consumption-driven economy at some point in the not too distant future. This becomes increasingly true as the yen weakens due to the Bank of Japan continuing to pursue its loose monetary policy while the United States Federal Reserve, European, and other central banks raise interest rates. Quite simply, Japan is inflicting pain on itself by remaining closed.

There are also signs that stringent travel measures, including the border closure, are having a greater impact on Japan’s economy than previously believed. This is despite Japan’s “Go to Travel” campaign that subsidized domestic travel, which was offered at various times during the last two years.

According to data from the Japan Tourism Agency, stays at hotels and other accommodation facilities hit another record low in Japan last year–breaking the previous record set in 2020. The total of guests at hotels and inns was 315.75 million, down 4.8% from 2020 and 47% from 2019. (This number includes hotels used as government quarantine facilities, not just leisure stays.)

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party recognizes these problems and realizes it needs to rebuild Japan’s economy. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that his top priority was formulating new economic measures and implementing these goals. The government will also take measures to stimulate and jump-start the economy.

Despite the aforementioned numbers, Japan is maintaining its goal of attracting 60 million foreign visitors by 2030. Additionally, the Japan National Tourism Organization has set 2024 as its goal for recovering to 2019 international travel levels. Both of these statements are reassuring given the current border closures, and indicate that Japan will unwind its travel ban in months, not years.

Against that economic backdrop, let’s take a look at the latest changes to Japan’s reopening plans…

We have more good news! Multiple media outlets, including NHK, Kyodo, Nikkei, and Fuji TV are all reporting that Japan’s government is planning to further relax restrictions and border measures with an eye to implementing the revisions by the start of October 2022.

The specifics are not consistent among outlets, so let’s start with where they’re in agreeance.

First, there is consensus that the daily arrival cap, which is currently set at 50,000, will be eliminated entirely.

This is a necessary prerequisite for further reopening and the resumption of more inbound international flights, but this alone was not an obstacle dissuading most international visitors. While the daily number of arrivals was higher pre-closure, we assumed that 50,000 is the level at which this cap becomes immaterial with China still sidelined. Regardless, it’s good to have this removed as it eliminates an element of uncertainty and could have been an issue during peak travel times for the Japanese.

Another possibility is that Japan will allow individual foreign tourists to enter the country and exempt them from visas if they have been vaccinated three times or submit a pre-arrival test result.

This is where there is disagreement among the major outlets. Kyodo, Nikkei, and NHK are reporting that this is to be determined, with government officials still deciding whether to proceed with this plan or start with lifting the daily arrival cap. By contrast, Fuji TV is treating this as a done deal, using less ambiguous language.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reportedly plans to make a decision as early as the end of this week, according to the news outlets’ sources.

These “leaks” came after Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara spoke on Fuji TV over the weekend and stated that Japan will consider easing all three restrictions–the daily arrival cap, ban on individual tourists, and visa requirements. “We will review all three restrictions together. We have to carry it out in the not-so-distant future,” he said.

“Japan has seasonal attractions in fall and winter. We know there are a lot of people overseas who want to come to Japan,” Kihara added. “Amid the weakening yen, inbound travelers will have greatest economic effect…There are many foreign visitors who want to come visit Japan.” Kihara added that eliminating the arrival cap alone was not enough.

Kihara isn’t the only one who has been vocal about fully reopening to tourists recently. During the Bloomberg New Voices panel, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she would open the country’s doors “tomorrow” if it were her decision. “Tourism is a big industry in Tokyo, as well as in all Japan, so this is the time to greet more foreign tourists by using this advantage of the depreciation of the yen,” she said.

Koike said that Japan’s borders would fully reopen soon. “The national border is under the management of central government,” Koike said. “As governor of Tokyo, that would be tomorrow.”

The yen has fallen to a 24-year low of ¥144 to the dollar, likely contributing to the sense of urgency in the aforementioned interviews.

Japan eased its border restrictions last week, raising the daily arrival cap from 20,000 to 50,000 and dropping the requirement for pre-arrival PCR testing for vaccinated travelers.

Japan also began allowing unguided tours, meaning ones not accompanied by tour conductors. This is specifically for “unguided tour groups” or “non-escorted visitors on package tours” and not individual tourists.

In Unguided Tours in Japan – Reopening Phase Rules, we cover what this entails and the recently-released guidelines and FAQ for these tours. Prior to those guidelines being released, we speculated on how this would work given basic logic and past precedent with prior groups who had been allowed to enter Japan. We were wrong–the unguided tours offered two steps forward but one step backwards.

We mention this in part to own past mistakes, but also as a cautionary tale. While it certainly sounds like the end is near for the Japan travel ban, it’s premature to have a high degree of confidence.

Kishida’s government has been trying to take advantage of the weak yen and accelerate growth by attracting more foreign visitors. It thus stands to reason that opening to individual tourists necessarily needs to occur–that raising the entry cap will do nothing in furtherance of their stated goal. However, as we have seen time and time again, the patently obvious conclusion often is not the outcome reached by Japan.

Moreover, how this played out with Japan’s last announcement is also instructive.

On August 23, specifics of the September relaxation measures were leaked to the same media outlets. At that time, it was unclear whether unguided tourists would be allowed to enter. On August 31, Kishida made an official announcement encompassing all of the rumored changes, including unguided tourists. (It took a few more days for the guidelines to be released, and the clarifying FAQ is still being updated.)

While presenting the above as a cautionary tale against optimism or over reliance on logic when assessing Japan’s decisions, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. (I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. Like a moth to a flame.)

First, there’s already the realization that unguided tours–like guided tours before them–will not move the needle on inbound tourism in any meaningful way. It’s another symbolic measure, and coming at a time when an increasing number of international visitors have already moved on to other destinations and pent-up demand has begun fizzling out. The number of people anxiously awaiting Japan’s reopening is shrinking, not growing.

Second, there’s awareness within the Kishida administration that the window of opportunity to reopen the border is closing. This is something we’ve pointed out in our best and worst case scenarios in prior updates, but there’s only a limited amount of time between waves.

Over two years into this, the seasonality of COVID transmission is well-established. Cases are currently in freefall and will continue decreasing next month before bottoming out sometime between late October and early November. There will be a winter resurgence. It could start as soon as late November, but is more likely in December.

Reopening to individual tourists in October presents minimal (political) risk and maximum (economic) upside. Public opinion polls show that most voters have already moved on from COVID to assorted scandals; the minority who still care will see no immediate increase in cases correlating with the border reopening.

Frankly, the miscalculation here by the Kishida administration is thinking that this will have an immediate impact on inbound travel. Those reading regular updates on Japan’s reopening are not representative of international travelers at large. Most people need months of time between booking and traveling; very few plan and take last-minute trips–especially international ones.

Obviously, the easing has to occur at some point and this lag will always play out, but the notion that this moves the needle for fall is misguided. Autumn is already a lost cause. At best, this helps with winter. More likely, the impact won’t be fully felt until next year’s cherry blossom season.

One wildcard is the downgrade of COVID’s legal status. Several recent updates have centered around Japan’s internal debate over whether to strip COVID-19 of its special status and downgrade it to the same level as the flu in Japan’s infectious disease categories.

It’s been our perspective that this was a necessary prerequisite to welcoming individual tourists as there would no longer be a need for a responsible receiving party to monitor travelers and act as a liaison for infected individuals. Given that none of the recent reports have even mentioned COVID’s status in regard to reopening, it’s possible our perspective was wrong. Or, that this barrier does still exist and Japan will have to create a “solution” for it (travel insurance?) for individual tourists. Either way, that’s something to continue keeping in mind.

Also as previously mentioned, recent poll data also shows the public is now far less concerned with COVID than the economy, Unification Church scandal, Abe’s state funeral, and other issues. It’s entirely possible that Kishida sees this polling and his sagging approval numbers and realizes that it’s time to move forward. That there’s more upside than downside risk in reopening and encouraging more economic activity.

As we’ve stressed repeatedly, Japan’s populace has been among the most cautious in the world with regard to COVID-19. Human behavior and sentiment don’t change overnight, even if it’s economically advantageous and objectively safer to do so. Statements by politicians and medical advisors, gradual border relaxation measures, and other changes could be interpreted as Japan laying the groundwork for a resumption of normalcy and the country’s eventual reopening. It now appears that the time is here–or coming very soon.

With all of this said, I’ll present my revised best, worst, and base-case scenarios for Japan’s reopening to individual tourists…

Let’s start with the best-case scenario. This assumes that Japan downgrades COVID-19 from its special status to Category 5 literally any day now or that this is not a necessary prerequisite to an individual tourist reopening. (With the possible workaround of travel insurance or some other awkward “fix.”)

Critically, this would eliminate the legal requirement of a responsible receiving party for visitors to Japan. In such a scenario, the borders could almost immediately return to their normal pre-closure status in early October 2022. With this, the visa exemption would be reinstated, making that a non-issue. The arrivals cap would also be eliminated in this scenario.

Then there’s the middle ground or base case. This is now the same as the best-case scenario. In short, the early October 2022 reopening is not just our most optimistic view–it’s now what we expect to happen.

To differentiate the two, I’ll also allow for a middle ground possibility of a bifurcated decision with the individual tourist reopening a few weeks after the entry cap elimination. Let’s say that happens in early November 2022.

This is would allow a bit of wiggle room for Japan’s slow and belabored decision-making process that involves a lot of “careful consideration” and “evaluating the situation.” If anything has been well-established during the last two-plus years, it’s that inaction is Japan’s baseline, and anything that does happen occurs gradually and in stages.

Finally, the worst-case scenario is that Japan instead opts to revive its “Go to Travel” campaign just in time for fall colors season, and uses that to buoy the tourism sector through December 2022. It’s possible the country views this as sufficient for tourism businesses to stave off bankruptcy or other financial hardship for another few months.

If/when there’s another winter resurgence in cases, the reopening can would effectively be kicked down the road for a few more months. That would mean individual tourists would not be welcomed back to Japan until sometime in the first half of 2023. I’m inclined to say Spring 2023, but it’s easy to envision a worst-case that isn’t until summer.

Our view is that the worst-case scenario is now highly unlikely. Japan relaxed its border measures earlier in September while still being #1 in the world for new cases. This indicates that Japan is finally ready to move forward and sets the precedent for future changes during waves. Who knows–it still may take until early 2023 to fully downgrade the legal status of COVID. But whatever winter wave occurs (and one will happen), that’s unlikely to be an obstacle to reopening progress, as was the case last year.

With all of that in mind, we remain cautiously optimistic that individual tourists will be allowed to enter Japan sooner rather than later. The political and economic appetite for fully relaxation now clearly exists, and there’s a vocal chorus of politicians in Japan–including those who were previously in favor of closed borders–championing reopening. It’s now the popular position being advanced publicly by politicians, not just being advocated by Keidanren or Japan’s business lobby.

Japan fully reopening in full is all but inevitable at this point. It will happen soon. The end is near.

It’s thus our view that Japan reopening in some capacity to individual tourists in October 2022 is a very realistic scenario. As improbable as it might’ve seemed even a week ago, Japan welcoming back international visitors who are not part of tours (guided or unguided) sometime before November 2022 is likely. It’s pretty clear the government is focused on moving forward. As frustrating as this whole process has been, Japan is not still (completely) stuck in March 2020.

As always, Japan is cautious and conservative, with a slow and belabored decision-making process that often embodies “analysis paralysis” and usually defies logic. That’s a wild card that could further extend any timeline. However, Japan is now joining the rest of the world as people are ready to move on with life.

We’ll keep watching the news and keep you posted if/when there are further developments about Japan reopening and allowing entry to travelers from the United States, Canada, Europe, and beyond. Again, if you’d like to be notified as soon as more details are released or rumored, subscribe to our free email newsletter for ongoing updates and alerts:

If you’re planning a visit to Japan, our recommendation at this point is to target sometime in November 2022 at the earliest. In our view, koyo (autumn leaves) season is a good bet, and that takes place from mid-November through December. That’s simply a good time to visit Japan and, hopefully, the country will be open to individual tourists by then.

Speaking of which, check out our Japan Fall Colors Forecast & Autumn Foliage Viewing Guide to get started on planning your trip to visit Japan’s popular fall foliage cities, including Kyoto, Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Himeji, and Nara. That also offers tips for avoiding crowds and strategy for visiting the best temples, shrines, and evening illuminations.

If you’re planning a trip to the Japan, check out our other posts about Japan for ideas on other things to do! We also recommend consulting our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto and Ultimate Guide to Tokyo to plan.

Your Thoughts

Would you consider visiting Japan later this year, or is international travel out of the question for you anytime soon? How do you view the news about guided tours? Think those will stick around for several months, or are simply theater to shift public opinion? Are you concerned that Japan won’t reopen until 2023, or think October 2022 is still realistic? Think the need to adapt and live with the endemic virus will outweigh fear when it comes to Japan’s reopening plans? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add? If you’re planning your trip to Japan, what do you think about these itineraries? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!

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2709 replies
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  1. .
    . says:

    Looks like 11th October is the date we’ve all been waiting for.

    Thanks to Tom, and all the regular commenters. I lurked on here for ages before starting to post around March or so of this year. It’s been a good source of information I might’ve missed on the usual platforms. Hilariously, the prediction I made with my first post of an easing by the end of summer ends was sort of right, summer ends tomorrow in the UK. Can’t say I didn’t lose faith on a number of occasions!

    With that, I wish you all farewell, and that you all enjoy your trips to Japan as much as I have (and will do!). No doubt it’ll be worth the wait.

    Reply
  2. Warren
    Warren says:

    FOR SALE: Two Visas. Unused, less than a week old, in perfect condition. Total cost to aquire these Visas (travel costs, hotel accommodation, incidental expenses over two trips, 1st for the application appointment and the 2nd to return to collect, just over £700GBP. Open to offers.

    Reply
    • Marco Phillips
      Marco Phillips says:

      at last, the pain is gone, this calls for a family celebration tonight, thank you Tom for your
      commitement and wonferful information

    • zazza
      zazza says:

      I’ll wait till Oct 11 to be sure, then I’ll just…”disappear” since, to quote a certain 2000s MMORPG, “my work here is done”.
      Besides, my trip is scheduled for Summer 2023 so…

    • Japan Tourism Small Business Owner
      Japan Tourism Small Business Owner says:

      For those of us who are here, we really need that. It’s getting out of hand. I think most tourists should be willing to accept a 140 level, to put it lightly.

      It might be generally good for foreign visitors to have a weak yen, but there are limits before it starts to negatively affect the place that you are trying to visit, and I think we’ve already crossed that line. I, personally and for business, would like to see the yen head back to the 109 range, which was the average in 2019 when tourism boomed and things for those living here were better. The very weak yen might be great immediately as Japan opens, to increase interest, but by next year I’d like for it to head back to a normal level rapidly.

      Let’s not push for the economic destruction of Japan so that visitors can save an extra 35 cents on a bowl of ramen over and above the bargain that they’re already getting.

    • Sammy da Bull
      Sammy da Bull says:

      Small Business owner, of course yiu would say that. But anyway, its almost back to 143 after a few hours. Its the whole trip, not just a bowl of ramen.

      First time in 24 years that the govt has intervened,

  3. Mikel
    Mikel says:

    https://skiasia.com/news/confirmed-japan-will-allow-individual-travel-from-next-month-says-japanese-pm/

    Last week, reports from Fuji TV and Nikkei Asia suggested that an announcement on unrestricted individual tourism would be just around the corner. Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has today put an end to speculation, confirming that his government will relax border measures from next month. He made the comments from New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.

    “The government is currently in the process of removing the cap on the number of visitors, allowing individual travel, and waiving visa requirements for short-term stays,” he said.

    An official announcement is yet to come, however the PM’s words will come as a huge relief to tourism operators who have endured many months of uncertainty.

    Japan is the last of the G7 nations to have kept tourist restrictions in place. With pent-up demand for travel and the value of the yen at its weakest in decades, experts are predicting a rapid recovery of the tourism sector, and perhaps even “the mother of all tourism booms“.

    Reply
    • Shioyama
      Shioyama says:

      I’m glad that the end is near. Though I was hoping he would mention a concrete date from when individual tourists will be let in. So I guess from the wording in that article that the waiting game is not over yet. Or at least for me, who has work holiday until 14th of October and is keen to book a flight that arrives on the first day possible to get at least a somewhat complete two-week stay.
      Anyone got an assumption whether tourists will be let in from 1st of October or that it won’t happen until some later date?

    • Gav
      Gav says:

      He’s not said anything concrete yet – just vague comments about relaxing entry requirements next month. Japanese officials have been making similar comments for most of this year. Don’t forget that he told everyone at the start of May when he was speaking in London that he would bring Japan’s entry requirements into line with the rest of the G7 in June. Obviously, it didn’t happen.

      I’m hoping this time it’s for real but won’t be getting excited until Kishida mentions dates and specifics, and even better an official announcement on the MOFA website.

    • Kishida
      Kishida says:

      It should read starting next month “OCT” and not after next month. Google translate could be a little off.

    • Meli
      Meli says:

      I translated the most exciting bit:
      “Along with abolishing the limit placed on the number of entrants to the country, the government is considering to accept individual travelers and proceed with accommodating visa exemptions for short term stays from next month onward.”

    • Jason
      Jason says:

      Am I missing something? Was this the rumored speech at the NYSE, or is that yet to come? This doesn’t seem to be anything more than what we already knew from what Seiji Kihara. It does not seem any more definitive than any of the dozens of news articles on various sites reporting the same information over and over again. Yes, it looks like independent travel will happen in the future, visa waivers too, but still no firm date.

      I’ve been waiting for this as well, and I’m all set to book flights and accommodation for a 23 day trip literally as soon independent travel and visa waivers come into effect. I just don’t think I can let my hopes get up again without firm dates.

    • Isjapanopening
      Isjapanopening says:

      My bad guys. I misread 以降 as 以後. So this is saying from starting Oct. Yes, Jason has a point, but I asked around to native Japanese friends and they confirmed this would generally be read as reopening starting next month.

    • Meli
      Meli says:

      @Jason
      Kishida is supposed to give his speech at the NYSE later today (Thursday).
      This article seems to be in anticipation of an official statement and it’s the first time I’ve seen actual dates mentioned (i.e. from October). So it’s very likely an actual official announcement will be made very soon!

    • zazza
      zazza says:

      Just to clarify, Kishida himself, during an event to promote food, said about further easing from next month. It is speculated that his speech later today will be a little more specific.

    • Jim bob
      Jim bob says:

      “Starting this month, it is no longer necessary to obtain a negative certificate, but from next month onwards, we will further relax border measures.” So basically nothing has happened. Its the same thing we already new last week still waiting for relaxation some time in october.

    • zazza
      zazza says:

      Jim Bob,

      technically, no. It was just rumored (leaked via press) until now. Even if it’s just a small detail it’s officially confirmed “something” will happen in October.

    • Gav
      Gav says:

      “The basic policy of the government as a whole regarding border measures in the future is to proceed with relaxation while balancing the prevention of the spread of infection and socio-economic activities”

      I really hate reading this set-piece nothing statement that seems to have been repeated hundreds of times by many officials the past year. I really hope we don’t have to hear it many more times…!

    • Jake
      Jake says:

      I’ve joked about it before when I read they’re nearly past identical robotic statements. But after this latest one, I’m almost positive the Japanese government has been replaced with some sort of barely functional AI program.

      I mean, I’m not saying Kishida is really just a hologram. But is there any proof that he ISN’T?

  4. Mikel
    Mikel says:

    Looks like we should know more today, or later this week from what the various articles of sad about when Kishida could make his announcement. Very excited.

    My only concern is that it seems like the initial reports were about removing “all” restrictions and clearly mentioned getting rid of the Japanese agency requirement, but the more recent reports mostly left out any reference to that and begin talking in terms of removing “most” restrictions.

    Cross your fingers!

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Kishida’s visit to NY was delayed by a day due to the typhoon, so I wouldn’t expect anything today.

      If he does make a speech at the NYSE (still unclear whether he will), I’d expect the announcement to happen there. Every time there are rumors of reopening, travel stocks get a nice boost. If Kishida wants to encourage investment in Japan, showing steps the country is taking to recover would help with that.

      That’s just my guess as to timing, though.

    • ‎̴̨̯̲̫̭̪͍̹͚͍͍̺̬̥͇̠̩̯͓̟̬͖̻̳̘̬͙̀̏̽͋̓̊̿͗̚͜͜ͅͅ
      ‎̴̨̯̲̫̭̪͍̹͚͍͍̺̬̥͇̠̩̯͓̟̬͖̻̳̘̬͙̀̏̽͋̓̊̿͗̚͜͜ͅͅ says:

      Mikel: Whilst none of us know what the future holds, I’d personally not worry too much about the wording of “all” versus “most”. I’ve generally interpreted the latter to mean exactly what it says on the tin — “most” restrictions will be dropped, with the remaining ones likely being the vaccination/testing requirements that we’ve been anticipating for literal years at this point. It’s easy to forget this in today’s world, but that much certainly counts as a restriction.

      Here’s hoping for big news by the end of this week. I can’t even imagine what other “phase” they can introduce to the current agency-booked tour rubbish to further protract this agonising reopening process, but I’ll stop short of saying it’s unthinkable so as not to tempt fate. -w-;

    • Gav
      Gav says:

      I’m sure Japan can easily add additional unnecessary phases in, if they want to…! For example, they could scrap the agency booking requirements but still require ERFS + visa (i.e., make official the current de facto situation). Then, they could later scrap ERFS but still require a visa, perhaps meanwhile adding more countries into the e-visa system. Finally, they can reinstate visa waivers.

      Hopefully they’ll just skip straight to visa waivers as rumoured.

      I’m wondering if it’s a coincidence that the rumoured return of visa waivers coincides roughly with the date that the EU is supposed to suspend Japan’s visa waiver into the EU according to their laws (8th October).

    • zazza
      zazza says:

      Sammy,

      it wasn’t scheduled to say it at the assembly, according to rumors.
      Besides, with the Ukranian war in discussion it would have been waaay out of topic.

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I dunno, I was really hoping for “…one more thing: JAPAN IS BACK BABAAAY!” after Kishida’s somber remarks about nuclear threats to the international community’s peace and safety.

    • Sammy da Bull
      Sammy da Bull says:

      Zazza, next hope is hoping Tom’s prediction is correct and will be at the NYSE. im assuming thurs evening japan time ✌🏼 The minute its announced im booking flights 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

  5. Lizz
    Lizz says:

    Welcome may be a bit strong but at least there are more people that are running out of excuses and may even realize this is the right thing to do.

    Reply
    • ‎̴̨̯̲̫̭̪͍̹͚͍͍̺̬̥͇̠̩̯͓̟̬͖̻̳̘̬͙̀̏̽͋̓̊̿͗̚͜͜ͅͅ
      ‎̴̨̯̲̫̭̪͍̹͚͍͍̺̬̥͇̠̩̯͓̟̬͖̻̳̘̬͙̀̏̽͋̓̊̿͗̚͜͜ͅͅ says:

      There’s been a pretty major public sentiment shift. I’ve also observed one such change in the (Japanese) comments sections on Yahoo! News: Months ago, the top-rated comments on articles about the border were predominately people saying it’s “far too soon” to welcome foreigners back, whereas recently, those same types of comments are downvoted to obscurity. Everyday people want this to end, and that’s a very, very good sign.

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve noticed the same.

      I wondered whether the seventh wave would lead to a doubling-down or the dam finally breaking and Japan having the same fatigue as the rest of the world. The latter seems to be the prevailing sentiment, which makes sense to me. Nothing like being told your increased “vigilance” for 2+ years is paying dividends, only to lead the world in new cases for over a month.

    • Shinn
      Shinn says:

      This will help push the Kishida government to open asap given their bad-to-worse approval rating. The people want it, please do it.

    • Warren
      Warren says:

      My wife and I collected our visas from the Embassy of Japan in London this morning. It was quite something to be in the capital today. I wish Tom and all those who frequent this blog/forum the very best for their future travel plans in Japan. Hopefully this uncertainty ends for all with the announcement tomorrow.

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks–and enjoy your trip!

      We are ALL IN this time–finished booking everything for November this morning, including a couple of things that aren’t refundable. Fully expecting that announcement tomorrow, against my better judgment and despite being burned in the past. Here’s hoping it’s actually made this time!

  6. Steve
    Steve says:

    Very informative article
    Have before lockdown skied in Japan last 3 seasons
    We as a group are aiming for next feb 23
    As have shunted our plans forward the last two winters
    This now looks like a positive step to returning to Japan to ski
    Fingers crossed 🤞

    Reply
  7. Julie Cordell
    Julie Cordell says:

    I am riveted to the updates of this post! I have plane tickets and an Air BNB booked for March, 2023 for Tokyo. Is there a good travel resource for booking tickets to things like Ghibli Park, Ghibli Museum, Disneyland, and local transportation in Japan from the U.S.?

    Reply
    • PacificPika
      PacificPika says:

      For Ghibli Museum tickets, I highly recommend: https://bridge.jpn.com/tickets.php

      They’re wonderful, I’ve bought tickets through them multiple times. They’re very reliable and their fees are reasonable. Just bought tickets for a different event through them!

      I hope you have a great trip when you go!

    • Megan O'Brien
      Megan O'Brien says:

      Hi Julie! My husband and I have traveled to Japan twice and been to Disney twice – the most sensible option for buying Disney tickets was at the local FamilyMart, where they have a “vending machine” for them. There’s user guides and instructional YouTube videos online. Unless it’s a weekend day, tickets don’t sell out too far in advance!

  8. ‎̴̨̯̲̫̭̪͍̹͚͍͍̺̬̥͇̠̩̯͓̟̬͖̻̳̘̬͙̀̏̽͋̓̊̿͗̚͜͜ͅͅ
    ‎̴̨̯̲̫̭̪͍̹͚͍͍̺̬̥͇̠̩̯͓̟̬͖̻̳̘̬͙̀̏̽͋̓̊̿͗̚͜͜ͅͅ says:

    It’s so hard not to celebrate prematurely…I hope this is really the end of this nightmare for all of us still waiting.

    Since I started travelling in 2017, I stayed in 123 separate places across all 47 prefectures of Japan; I am a digital nomad that speaks/translates the language and have built amazing memories everywhere from Iriomote to Wakkanai. Whilst I was happy to be part of Japan “only as a traveller”, it was nevertheless an essential and central part of my life, where most of the money I saved up went, where my social circle from around the world would always congregate, and most importantly, “where my heart was”. By the time the coronavirus hit, roughly half of my average year was spent in Japan…in March 2020, it was unthinkable to me and everyone else in my life that two and a half years later, we’d still be unable to enter the country we love as we once did so freely.

    This pandemic — or more precisely, the response to this pandemic — has inflicted so much suffering on those of us for whom “travel” is more than “vacation”. I can only hope and pray that by the end of the coming week, this comment section, which I’ve watched for literal years now, will erupt into celebratory jubilance, followed by lighthearted chatter about where to go now that Japan is finally welcoming us back to its shores. It is what each and every one of us deserves.

    Reply
  9. Alex
    Alex says:

    Just booked my travel this year – arriving in Brisbane 11/23, headed up to Cairns on 11/30 for two days, flying to Tokyo (NRT) on 12/3, leaving Tokyo late 12/8 and arriving back in Brisbane on the morning of 12/9. I live in the US and my best friend growing up moved to Brisbane with his wife in 2019 – just saw him for the first time in three years this summer, decided now is the time to travel again. Haven’t traveled overseas since visiting Europe in 2017. I’m so pumped!

    Reply
    • Shinn
      Shinn says:

      The longer he waits, the more people cancelling their flight and hotel bookings and goes elsewhere. And for those who have to go to Japan, it is more days of uncertainty and possibly paying hundreds for ERFS and visa. But what can you do.. politicians gotta be politicians.

    • Warren
      Warren says:

      Interesting and slightly ambiguous. It reads like this has actually now been announced, on the 15th, yesterday, but it references comments made by Abe from months ago. Then it goes on to suggest that this will/may be announced on Tuesday at the New York stock exchange. I reckon this is still speculation, though it reads as definitive.

    • Www
      Www says:

      The policy change may not help bring back tourists this year. Airlines will not resume flights in a short notice. Actually some flights to Japan from us just got axed this week. The sfo to kix will not resume until next year.

    • Warren
      Warren says:

      Thanks for the clarification regarding the translation and “Abe”, and that this has come from Kishida yesterday.

    • zazza
      zazza says:

      If you really need an automatic translation tool, use Deepl.com.
      Sometimes the results are weird, but, from the tests I made, it seems bit better than Google.

    • Mikel
      Mikel says:

      Here’s the Google Translate version:

       On the 15th, the government decided to significantly relax the border measures against the new coronavirus and lift the ban on entry for individual tourists from October. In light of the declining number of new infections, the current limit of 50,000 people per day will be abolished, and short-term stays without a visa will be permitted from the United States and other countries. We will bring border measures closer to before the spread of infection, and aim to increase the number of individual travelers who are the main inbound (foreign visitors to Japan).

       Prime Minister Kishida will announce it soon. Within the government, there is a proposal for the Prime Minister, who is visiting the United States next week, to announce it in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange. According to government officials, Abe gave a speech in Tokyo on the 15th and said, “In the near future, we will further relax border controls so that we can enter Japan as smoothly as the G7 (seven developed nations).” Currently, Japan is the only country in the G7 that has caps on the number of people entering the country.

    • L 寺田
      L 寺田 says:

      The Japanese government can change anything on short notice. They do not mind being isolated. If this means protecting their people — then they will do whatever they deem necessary to protect from foreign Covid carriers. Remember, they have a history of isolation (Meiji period), yet they don’t realize the irony of sending a 100% packed JAL 16 flight back from HND to LAX on Sept 5 with their citizens, ready to spend their money in USA. Going to HND on 8/30 the flight was 5% full. Government officials are obviously apprehensive about letting foreigners in. If Japan opens in October — understand that they can easily close in November/December. Be mindful of any non-refundable air tickets/hotel reservations. Don’t think that just because they open in October means they’ll be open throughout winter and spring. They’ll shut their border with any virus wave. The Japanese have GAMAN and isolationism on their side. It’s their culture.

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