a person walking on a wet street
Image by Masashi Wakui from Pixabay

If we’ve learned anything from the “reopening” of Japan for the purpose of travel and tourism, it’s that western outlets read way too much into words. And — we’re all way too optimistic. This one included, sadly.

With each muttering of hope comes grandiose headlines proclaiming “this is the one”, and we’ve rinsed and repeated that cycle a few times now, without success for going on a few years now. Whoops.

But a new sign of hope may finally be the light at the end of the tunnel.

For the first time, Japan is finally talking about allowing unguided, individual tourism again, with very few restrictions. By all indications, there’s major change brewing.

Nagoya castle and city skyline in Japan at sunset

Japan Tips Major Reopening

Disingenuous headlines flooded the internet in April, as the first news broke of Japan letting people other than citizens, residents and essential business travelers in. All the “Japan Is Open Again” stuff was just… stuff. In reality, it wasn’t open at all.

If you wanted to visit, you needed to book a sterilized group tour, which would not be allowed any deviations. No side street wanders, spontaneous dining moments, or any of the things which makes travel so stunning and wonderful.

After missing the summer wave of travel enjoyed by Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and others, credible reports are surfacing that Japan will allow fully vaccinated and boosted tourists in without any pre-arranged plans or tours.

Yes, this may really be the news we’ve been waiting for.

What’s Changing For Japan Travel

For a start, there’s been a daily cap on all arrivals into Japan. That’s said to be dropping, according to comments from a cabinet minister interview given to Fuji TV. From thus far unspecified date, there would no longer be any limits on the amount of visitors allowed in.

Further, visas wouldn’t be required. In previous years, tourists could typically enter Japan from visa waiver countries without any paperwork needed prior to arrival. That simplified tourism experience is expected to return.

Visitors would be expected to be fully vaccinated and boosted, or to take a Covid-19 test prior to arrival, to be eligible for entry under the proposed new programs.

a woman walking under a wooden arch

When Can I Visit Japan Again?

The short answer is no one knows. The slightly longer answer, is that October or November are highly likely times.

An announcement from Japanese PM Fumio Kishida is expected as soon as the end of this week, and rumors suggest October may be when the changes will take effect. So yeah, there’s still a fair bit to iron out — but a return to Japan now feels imminent.

Fingers crossed! We’ll update this story as details are confirmed.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Is This Finally The Japan Travel News We’ve Been Waiting For?

    And the answer is…. no. Sure you can go if you’re triple-jabbed or can still find somewhere that does ‘official’ COVID tests (or just edit your old PDF files from 2020 using Acrobat, but I digress), but I recommend that you wait for the COVID freakout, still going strong in all of NE Asia, finally to blow itself out, and all of NE Asia has such a bad case of COVID freakout that it will be 2025 before that happens and things start to look like 2019 again.

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