PSA: Travelling to Japan Right Now

Hey all,

I got hit with heaps of messages after my post here so figure I post what I know.

  • If you want to go to Japan currently, you need to book a fully escorted guided tour. There is little to no ability to change these as all places must be registered. This means you will probably not be able to stop by a 7-11 or Family Mart and buy random food unless pre-arranged and registered, but will be able to stop at the many vending machines on your tours.

  • Costs range from $5k to $15k depending on what you want.

  • Of the guides I spoke to in Japan, most say they have been advised that this will run through to August or September and then re-assessed by the government. It will be unlikely that independant travel will be allowed until the end of the year.

  • When I asked them whether they think the snow season will be accessible? Most believe that yes it will be BUT there will be restrictions in place, with only a few resorts accepting foriegners.

  • As I used to work in government in Japan, I asked a contact whether they had any updates on fully accessible independant travel across the country and he advised me that internally the belief is not until Spring or Summer 2023.

So take from that what you will. Here's an example of a pamphlet from JTB to show what is available to you now:

In summary, I do not agree with how Japan is opening up. When I was there for work a little while back, Japan is clearly suffering from the lack of tourism money. Half of Kyoto remains shuttered but this is not helped by the fact that when interviewed, many Japanese say they prefer it without tourism. In fact many Japanese have started to become even more openly xenophobic. There are many, ofcourse, they are desperately wanting the government to open borders without restrictions. Which it should, following in Singapore's successful footsteps.

So don't go out booking tickets right now. There's no guarantee that Jetstar will refund you now because "technically" the country is now open. If you feel like you really need to, book flexible tickets so you can change the date.


  • +4

    OP, Thanks for the PSA. 👍

    Japan is not quite the same if you can’t roam “freely”.

    Wish I could upvote your post!

  • +1

    Thanks, OP!

    Huh I wonder what the demographics are, for the ones that are against

    • +1

      On the TV shows and news that I watched while I was there, it was all ages. When I was there last month, people stayed clear of me which is unusual, even in the town I lived for most of my childhood, I was shunned quite a bit which really upset me. When I asked around, people were scared because of the lack of ease of testing and vaccinations, so assumed that I, as a foriegner, was a risk despite me being fully vaxxed and boosted, meanwhile booster rates remain low in Japan. Suffice to say, I did not feel welcome.

      Here's an interesting read on the situation.

      • Sorry you went through that :(

        Thanks for the link! Interesting, albeit sad, read

        Had been to Japan before and enjoyed my time there, found the people lovely and friendly. But will give the country a pass for another year or so.

  • Thanks op!

  • Thanks for the update. We were looking at it over the Winter but it's officially in the too hard basket.

  • +2

    I never knew it was possible to be polite, respectful and racist at the same time - until I lived in Japan and often experienced this.

    • +1

      Xenophobia is strong in Japan. As an Aussie raised in Japan I experienced this quite a bit. It's very odd to feel racially vilified as a white guy. The problem is that in the past, Japanese people would keep these views private. The Covid isolation from the rest of the world really brought it to the surface and the Japanese are now more comfortable in expressing it. Again, from personal experience when I was there last month

  • many Japanese say they prefer it without tourism. In fact many Japanese have started to become even more openly xenophobic.

    don't blame them to be honest, i prefer my state without tourists. less crowded, less busy, quieter, somewhat cleaner.

    • Yep that's pretty much the same reasons they give.

      That said, most economies can't thrive without the mighty tourism dollar and while it's less crowded and less busy in Kyoto right now, there's also less to do because a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants remain closed.

      I didn't feel this in the bigger cities where bigger business could afford to stay open, but the smaller towns are dead. Where I lived, Iga-Ueno in Mie, is dead silent now on weekends.

      • That said, most economies can't thrive without the mighty tourism dollar

        sadly the same case here.

        i just thought of another reason i dislike tourism; the natural attractions

        the biggest draw to Tas is probably the natural attractions, but the problem with this is that people don't always treat things with the respect they deserve, and this can result in destruction of environmental wonders. it's the reason why the location of the centurion is not well known, although it's not impossible to find.

        i remember reading about the beach that was the main filming location of the movie "The Beach" and how the Thai government had to step in and ban tourists for a number of years (i think) and clean up the beach, due to the destruction caused by the sheer amount of tourists, as well as the actual filming of the film.

  • If you want to go to Japan currently, you need to book a fully escorted guided tour.

    This is exactly like North Korea.

  • Thanks for the heads up, I think I saw a plane ticket deal or something for Japan that it can be tempting to want to go holidaying ifnally. But knowing this, I'll probably hold out for a few years tbh. To be fair its a good excuse why I should be saving instead of spending right now.

  • Most experts are saying a post japan election announcement is likely. I have my tix for next feb 2023, and my ski resort booking is also refundable. I won't buy my travel insurance, 4g rental and rail pass until if and when they announced open borders. I have no risk in this situation.

    • Can't you cancel travel insurance up to the day you travel for a refund?

      • Cost wont change, not sure if I will need additional covid cover to enter the country. Only booked the resort to get the early bird pricing (lowest I have ever seen it)

        • Mind if I ask what ski resorts in Japan offer free cancellation?

  • Most experts are saying a post japan election announcement is likely.

    It won't be in favour of tourists if so. Covid border controls are very much still popular with voters.

    • To be fair, that's exactly the time to make an unpopular decision - immediately after an election when you've just taken power and the next election is as far away as possible

  • +1

    Lol I am fully empathetic with people in Kyoto claiming life is better with no tourists. It’s not even a race thing, even I as a tourist in 2018 thought the crowd situation was abysmal compared to when I was a resident in 2012. The numbers really had gotten somewhat out of hand.

    • Yeah my experience of Kyoto in 2019 compared to an earlier trip in 2014 reflects this exactly. I thought it would be relatively quiet - it was mid May so after all the Golden week tourism, but it was still crazy packed.

      • +1

        Yes I stopped going to Kyoto because of the over the top tourism.

        • I'd heard it was like that but I was with mates who'd never been there, and we were staying for a week in Osaka, so it made sense to go for a day. I agree with you though, I wouldn't be in a rush to go back.

    • -1

      Japan's border policy would make MAGA proud.


  • I have bought a ticket to japan for the end of the year since January, hoping that the tourism will open by the time comes. I guess I have to reschedule :/

    Thanks Op

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