The definitive guide to Japan’s tourist reopening in 2022

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**Last updated 7th November 2022**

Don’t get us wrong, we love Japan (enough to dedicate 22 years of our lives to the place), and part of loving Japan is marveling at how delightfully confusing it can be at times. 

But Japan’s border opening approach? It was challenging, convoluted and at times frustrating.  

However, after more than two and a half years of waiting, the country fully reopened to tourism. From 11th October 2022, visa-free travel resumed and all arrival caps were removed as well.  

We have all the answers you need about Japan’s full border opening on 11th October. As the Japan experts, we’ve sought all the requirement information directly from Japanese government sources and broken them down into easy-to-understand sections. 


When can I travel to Japan in 2022?

From October 11th 2022, Japan removed visa requirements and arrival caps, returning to pre-pandemic travel arrangements. Visa-free travel is possible for all countries that originally had this arrangement with Japan, which includes countries like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, most of Europe, the US and Canada.  

Previously, travel requirements included booking your trip through a government-approved tour operator and also obtain a visa and ERFS certificate, but both these requirements are no longer necessary. Fully independent, visa-free travel to Japan is now possible from October 11th onwards.  

 Just in time for autumn leaves!  


Do I have to take a PCR test to travel to Japan? Do I have to be vaccinated?

You don’t have to be vaccinated to travel to Japan, but whether you need a PCR test does depend on your vaccination status:

  • If you are unvaccinated, you have to take a pre-departure test.
  • If you are triple vaccinated, you do not have to take a pre-departure test.
  • There is no requirement for arrival testing regardless of vaccination status.
  • Children under the age of 18 do not need to have vaccination certificates and nor will they need have negative Covid test certificates if they are travelling with parents or guardians who have been vaccinated and have vaccination certificate.

Weren’t the borders already open?

Sort of, hence the confusion! From June 10th 2022, Japan opened to “escorted tours”. What were those, you ask? Basically, travelling with a guide either as part of a group or a private guide just for you and your travel companion(s). Guided trips also had to be booked through a government-authorized provider. Then, on September 7th, independent travel became possible, but still needed to be booked through a government-authorised agency and required a visa. However, as we mentioned above, from October 11th onwards fully independent, visa-free travel to Japan is possible.  

Can I just buy a plane ticket, book a hotel and go to Japan?

Yes! Travel restrictions such as visa requirements and arrival caps were removed on October 11th, and Japan is fully open for tourism. Naturally, if you want to make the most out of your trip and have a truly unforgettable experience you can book an amazing independent itinerary or small group tour through us, with the added benefit of our decades of expertise, 24/7 support and tried-and-tested safety protocols in the unlikely event of Covid-related travel disruptions during your trip.

Will I have to wear a mask in Japan?

Yes, in some situations. Government advice is for masks to be worn on public transport and some indoor venues but, contrary to what one might expect, there has never been a mask mandate in the country. Constitutionally, the Japanese government can’t mandate something like mask wearing. It’s says a lot about Japan is a socially conscious society that so many individuals choose to wear masks even without mandates in place! You will be free to make your own choices where masks are not advised – we wouldn’t recommend choosing not to wear one where they are advised.


Where can I travel in Japan from October 2022?

Wherever you choose! Japan has some of the biggest, boldest and most exciting cities in the world, frozen-in-time samurai towns, remote alpine villages, tiny islands brimming with contemporary art, and mountaintop temple communities unchanged for centuries. Trying a bit of everything is the best way to get beneath the surface of this fascinating country.


What will Japan be like to travel in 2022 and early 2023?

Short answer: as incredible as ever but with far fewer tourists!

The rest of 2022 offers a rare chance to experience Japan before the crowds return in 2023. Life in the country is normal, everything is open, but there are only a tiny proportion of international visitors, especially without tourists from neighbouring China. It’s akin to the experience we had when we started InsideJapan in the year 2000, back when the idea of Kyoto being over-touristed seemed impossible. Japan is always magical, but if you like to have the magic all to yourself, 2022 could be a once in a lifetime opportunity!


I’ve never booked with a travel company before, how does it work?

All travel companies are different. Here at InsideJapan, we pride ourselves on creating (hands-down) the best cultural adventures to Japan (and we measure that by our average customer rating of 4.9/5). Our trips to Japan come in two travel styles:

  • We offer (genuinely small) Small Group Tours with the world’s best Japan guides, passionate Japanophiles who live in the country, speak the language and will bring the culture to life for you. All you have to do is pick one of our artfully made Tours and your desired departure date. Easy.

Check out our Small Group Tours departures calendar

  • We also create tailormade trips. You’ll be matched with a Travel Consultant who’ll get to know you, your interests, your ideas and add their own advice and recommendations. Together, you’ll craft your itinerary. We then take care of all the arrangements, create you a totally bespoke Info Pack detailing every aspect of your trip and offer guidance and support throughout.

Check out our Best of Japan itinerary – it’s perfect as inspiration for a first-time trip

However and wherever you choose to travel, we’ll take exceptional care of you from the first call to arriving back home.






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