Japan is Likely to Reopen to Foreign Travelers in Spring 2022 if COVID-19 numbers remain low, according to industry estimates, although the government hasn't set a hard date yet. Recently, Japan reopened to limited numbers of fully vaccinated foreign business travelers and students, and raised its daily limit of these arrivals from 3500 to 5000. Even these arrivals are required to quarantine, although they can test out with a negative COVID-19 test on the third day after their arrival.
After a harrowing fifth wave during the pandemic, when Japan was recording 26,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, new daily cases have fallen below 200 during November 2021. New research suggests that the Delta variant may have even driven itself to natural extinction due to too many mutations to the virus' protein nsp14, which interfered with its ability to make copies of itself. After a slow start, Japan has also achieved a high vaccination rate of over 76%, and most Japanese wear face masks in public.
An industry insider has revealed that domestic Japanese tour agencies are being tasked with running small-scale pilot programs for overseas tourists, who must be fully vaccinated, arrive by flight, and travel on dedicated tour buses to less populated parts of Japan in Chiba, Niigata and Nagano prefectures. The buses aren't permitted to stop in any major city, and the visitors won't be permitted outside their hotels and resorts. The pilot program is expected to start in December 2021 and continue into early 2022.
The industry source was understandably skeptical: “It's pointless. It's unnecessary. The rules should be that anyone who has had both doses of the vaccine and can show that they are well should be allowed into Japan. If they don't meet those criteria, then they should not be allowed in.”
Although pre-pandemic, Japan is a very popular destination for international travelers, including visitors from Hong Kong, mainland China, and the U.S., much of the Japanese travel industry remains oriented toward domestic Japanese travel.
Getting to Japan
Where to Stay
Most first time visitors to Japan who have limited time visit Japan's capital, Tokyo, and Kyoto, which served as Japan's capital for over 1000 years. Tokyo is one of the top luxury hotel cities; we'd recommend Aman Tokyo, the Andaz Tokyo at Toranomon Hills, and the new Four Seasons Tokyo at Otemachi.
There are of course many other destinations and hidden gems in Japan; TravelSort Clients can engage our trip planning services for bespoke itineraries.
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