is japan open to tourists

Is Japan Open for Tourists?

Are Tourists Allowed in Japan Yet?

reopen tourism japan empty park
No tourists in Miyashita Park for now.

For tourists who have been locked out of Japan for the last two years, it has been a long, quiet wait for good news. Unfortunately, Japan is still not open for tourists just yet.  However, in the last few weeks there have been glimmers of hope.  As evidenced by the rise of a site dedicated solely to asking if Japan is open, the pent up demand is incredible.  Hopefully for those waiting, the recent good news spurs some sense of optimism after two years of frustration.

Business First, Then Tourists?

The most encouraging news that Japan is getting ready to reopen for tourists is their quickly changing rules for business travel.  From March 1st, foreign students, business travelers, and trainees will be allowed in per Prime Minister Kishida’s new plan.  Japan has had some of the strictest rules for the entirety of the pandemic, much to the chagrin of its business interests.  It’s one thing to reopen for business travelers and another thing entirely to make it practicable.  For now, Japan is still working on minimizing the quarantine timeline based on vaccination status. It won’t make much sense for business travelers to come for one day of meetings if quarantine lasts a week.

While the main business lobby in Japan heralded the move, they continue to push for more loosening.  The hope is that this powerful domestic interest group will push PM Kishida to move quickly.  One caveat to this good news is that Japan is still limiting entry numbers to 5,000 individuals a day.  Once again this creates a practical bottleneck as to whether or not the plan will be a success.  In order to get thousands of foreign students, as well as business travelers, into the country, that number will need to be raised.

Tourist-less streets, but hopefully not for much longer

empty tokyo station
is japan reopen for tourism february 2022
no tourism in sancha
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Summer Sonic is On!

Any music lover in Japan last week was inundated with retweets of the lineup for Summer Sonic.  You may be wondering, what does that mean for whether Japan will reopen for tourism?  Firstly, Japan being willing to host large scale events — even if it’s not until the summer — is a sign of forward progress.  More importantly, this lineup includes foreign artists!  Even with the changing rules for business travel and students — it’s unlikely artists would be included under that heading.  For the organizers of Summer Sonic to have booked these artists, there has to be some level of confidence they’ll be allowed to come.  Of course, after the last two years everything is subject to change, but this is a great sign!

Peer Pressure — The Good Kind!

fuji waiting for tourists

Throughout the entire pandemic, Japan has had some of the strictest quarantine rules.  For a long time, they were in good company.  However, over the last few weeks many of their peers have started to relent.  Most notably, Australia reopened to foreign tourism last week.  In addition, the negative impact of the strict rules is starting to gain traction in the media.

As more and more people ask, “is Japan open for tourism yet” and the answer remains no despite the rest of the world opening, something will need to change.  The policies that have been in place the last two years have served the country well up until now.  However, to compete for global business and global travelers, change will need to come quicker in Japan. Otherwise, those crucial travel dollars will flow to other countries and Japan’s economy will continue to take a hit.

What’s Next?

It would be amazing to have a crystal ball to say exactly when Japan will reopen.  While we don’t have that information yet, there’s still a lot to be done!  Start researching your trip now so you’re ready once Japan gives the green light to tourism.  Hotels.com has a great guide with what you need to know before arriving.  Also, with tourism having been suppressed for so long, top tier properties like the Andaz Tokyo (review) still have great rates.

And whether you’re on the hunt for ramen or sushi, we’ll have you covered so you know you’re getting the best during your time here.  Here at Navigating Japan, we feel confident the domestic and international wave is shifting to Japan reopening to tourism sooner rather than later.  Given the pent up demand, there’s going to be a rush for flights and hotel rooms — so start getting ready now!  If you ever have any questions, you can always DM us on Instagram!

 

light on horizion japan reopening tourists
Light on the horizon that Japan will reopen to tourists soon!

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