Nagoya castle and city skyline in Japan at sunset

Japan has been among the most elusive tourism targets during the covid-19 pandemic and unfortunately, it appears that trend will continue, at least for a bit.

Borders have remained largely closed and unlike many countries where potential tourism reopening plans were never discussed, Japan almost teased hope throughout. Rumored tourism discounts back in 2021 and hopes of spectators during the Olympic Games have indeed made the waiting, the hardest part.

With many countries easing restrictions in response to promising data from recent variants such as Omicron, renewed hope began to emerge that Japan would abandon or at least reduce current entry barriers, but a new policy will keep virtually all visitors out through the end of February at the very earliest.

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

Japan Extends Border Restrictions

Japan may open for tourism in 2022, but it won’t be in the first quarter.

On Tuesday, January 11th, Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, held a press conference to announce that unfortunately, current border rules will continue to apply through the end of February.

Under the rules, most non- citizens and non-residents remained barred from entry. Even business and student travel is largely impossible. For tourism hopes, any real chance will only come after the resumption of what’s considered to be more essential travel and that’s potentially still a ways off.

Hope For Japanese Tourism In Spring?

Resuming essential travel for overseas businesses and education will be a first priority for Japan as the country looks to reopen, but with better weather and more time spent outdoors ahead, there’s potential for that to happen swiftly at the end of February.

Of course, the glass half empty look is that the end of February will see yet another continuation of the current protocols.

If a successful reboot of essential travel comes at the end of February, better weather, which has tended to improve health situations, could signal a chance to reopen tourism on a limited basis.

Much will depend on whether Japan is willing to accept a certain level of risk with more open borders, or take the much more cautious approach which other relatively nearby Asian countries have deployed. Hong Kong recently banned transit travel to more than 150 countries.

If you’re hoping to use points or cash to book a trip to Japan, points might be the best solution for now, since they’re easier to cancel and receive a refund, even up to the days before departure.

At this point, there’s no telling when Japan will open for tourism, but we can tell you it won’t be before the end of February.

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. We have had to change our plans for a Japan visit and cruise four times since 2020. The earliest I would reasonably predict Japan to be available now is in typhoon season 2022. While there may be a few cruises listed for Spring 2022 chances are high they will not be sailing. Having sailed and travelled in Japan’s typhoon season (July-October) visitors can expect missed ports and oppressive heat. We were anchored and stuck aboard ship in Tokyo Bay for two days and missed several ports during our last cruise in Japan’s typhoon season. Most of Japan’s cultural treasures ( like restored castles) have no air conditioning and require a lot of walking in the heat. We are passing on Japan for 2022, even though my Japanese SO desires to visit friends.

  2. Do you not think another variant is coming? And another? And another? It’s what viruses do!
    Is everyone belted in on the booster train? Do you think your boosters will lead to freedom?
    Are all the exits locked and bolted? Better check…

  3. Stop supporting these rogue governments. They best thing you can do when (if) they do open is to NOT go there.

  4. Sorry There’s zero chance they’ll open for tourism before the summer. Most likely August if things stand. You clearly don’t understand Japan.

      1. I think what he is getting at is that many Japanese are not wild about letting in foreigners who will increase the likelihood of bringing Covid. Unlike many other Asian countries, they are not as dependent on tourism. He is probably right though I sure hope not as I have hotel and flight reservations for March 1.

  5. My partner and I have been wanting to go to Japan together for many years now. I finally decided to book some super cheap tickets for mid-March 2022. This was once they reopened borders briefly. I was trying to be positive about the whole situation getting better. Seems like it’s probably best we yet again push these plans back further… Luckily we are able to change our flight for free.

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