Finally: Japan will Reopen to Independent Tourists on October 11th

I’ve been waiting for this announcement from Japan’s prime minister Kishida, which was set to take place this week. And it finally happened. There were a lot of rumors indicating it would take place on Tuesday, but that day came and went.

Well, now it’s official. As of October 11th, you will no longer have to have a booked guided tour in order to enter Japan. So, basically, border rules will more or less go back to what they were before Covid-19 pandemic. Since US citizens didn’t need a visa to Japan before 2020, they won’t need one as of that date.

Some questions still remain, and I recommend following this website that stays on top of the latest developments. Previously, it was indicated that if you are triple vaccinated, you won’t need a negative Covid test. Hopefully, that will still be the case.

Unfortunately, if you plan to enter Japan before October 11th, you will need to book a guided tour through a Japanese travel agency, which will allow you to apply for e-visa. Obviously, it’s a nuisance and I was planning to cancel our Japan trip next May if this rule was still in place by then.

There is a silver lining to going now, however. You will avoid hordes of tourists that will descend on Japan in a near future. I expect insane crowds when (if) we go next year, but it is what it is. Still, this development is very much welcome news for those of us who have booked and rebooked a trip to Japan a few times. I’m personally on my fourth attempt! 

Despite these positive developments, I recommend avoiding non-refundable bookings if at all possible and sticking to using miles for flights. There is no guarantee that this reopening will “stick”, as Japan government is notorious for closing the borders without warning. Another nasty Covid variant is a given, after all. And of course, besides Covid, there are all kinds of other reasons that may affect the reopening.

I have to say, Japan entry restrictions never really made a lot of sense to me. After all, Japanese citizens were free to leave the country  this whole time. As far as I know,  they don’t possess a special immunity to Covid based on their genetic makeup. Something tells me that it was more about reinstating a modern version of Sakoku period. But I digress…

Regardless, I’m excited by the fact that we may visit Japan next year at last. Emphasis on the word “may.”



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