It’s been two-and-a-half years now since travel to Japan was relatively free and easy. Few countries around the world have been so cautious about reopening their borders to tourism after the cataclysmic shutdowns of 2020. But we’re over the moon to announce that travel to Japan has now returned to something that looks a lot like the old normal – and that more change is on its way from October 11. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the latest Japan travel restrictions?
Following Japan’s decision last month to drop pre-departure testing, the Japanese government is now allowing travelers to visit Japan without booking a guided tour. Since September 7, individual travelers have been allowed to visit Japan on package tours – even those that only include flights and hotels.
The only remaining snag is that potential visitors have to book via a travel agency, as a point of information and contact. This limits travelers’ choice of accommodation a bit. It also means that you can’t, for instance, book a place to stay spontaneously while you’re in Japan – so no free-roaming backpacking trips just yet.
But all this is much better than the previous situation, in which potential tourists were only able to enter Japan if they’d booked a strictly scheduled, accompanied group tour.
At the same time, Japan’s list of permitted countries has been dropped, with visitors from all countries and regions now being accepted. Here’s a full list of all the countries and regions eligible for visa-free travel to Japan.
The country has started to allow up to 50,000 overseas arrivals per day, which is up from the previous limit of 20,000.
When can I visit Japan without booking through a travel agency?
Change is in the air. October 11 is the magic date when, according to The Japan Times and Time Out Tokyo, most remaining restrictions on travel to Japan will be lifted.
From this date, travelers will once again be able to visit Japan without getting a special visa. They will also be able to travel totally independently, without booking through a travel agency. The 50,000-person daily cap on arrivals will also be scrapped.
The Japanese government is aiming to capitalize on huge demand from travelers to visit without booking through an agency, especially as the weak yen means that travel to Japan is currently cheaper than it has been for many years.
It seems likely that some form of quarantine will still be required of arriving travelers. But despite that, it seems that Japan is finally moving from its extended tourism trial period towards a full, if cautious, reopening. And that’s something that we can all get very excited about.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Get planning with our guide to Japan’s 15 best hotels.
Plus: you’ll soon be able to spend six weeks in Thailand, visa-free.