When can we travel to Japan? Future outlook on travel ban

The Covid-19 infection is still spreading, and there is no prospect for the future.

This website provides information on rail travel in Japan. However, I think everyone is wondering when we can go to Japan. I myself cannot help but want to go early.

So this time I will explain about the current immigration restrictions on Japan and prospects for lifting restrictions. I will also show you about domestic travel circomstance in Japan, status of international and domestic flights, the operating status and congestion of Japanese railways, accommodations and attractions.

Border enforcement measures

Currently 159 countries and regions are subject to landing permission denied by the Japanese government. In other words, travel from most countries in the world to Japan is impossible. Please see the link on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for details on landing refusal areas.

The official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Even if you come from outside the target area, you are not allowed to use public transportation such as trains, buses, and taxis. You have to rent a car and drive by yourself to the accommodation where you will stay for 14 days.

14-days quarantine is required and you cannot travel anywhere in this 14 days period.

Prospects for lifting immigration restrictions

From July 29th, the Government of Japan has started the “Residence Track” for cross border business travelers.

As of September 23rd, the Government of Japan has applied the “Residence Track” to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Taiwan.

The Japanese government also has started the “Business Track” with Singapore which enables limited business activities during the 14-day stay at home period from September 18th.

At a press conference on September 23rd, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato said that the Government of Japan was “seriously considering” resuming entry from all over the world.

According to major media such as the Asahi Shimbun, the government has begun to consider resuming some entry from all over the world in early October.

Not only business people but also medium to long-term residents of 3 months or more will be allowed to enter the country. Tourists are excluded. A negative PCR test before departure or upon entry and 14 days of self-isolation will be required.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Olympic color light up

The Japanese government has begun to ease immigration in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which were postponed to 2021.

On the September 23rd, a meeting was held by the Japanese government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Organizing Committee to discuss immigration control and inspection systems for athletes.

The government and the committee are considering exempting athletes and officials participating in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics from waiting for 14 days after entering Japan. Instead, they require athletes and officials to submit activity plans and pledges that specify destinations and ways of transportation.

These methods are in flux as they depend on the status of future Covid-19 infections.

Of course, governments and officials will want to let spectators enter the country if they can control the infection.

However, the situation is still unstable to decide.

Domestic travel circumstances in Japan

Currently, there are no particular restrictions on travel within Japan. In Okinawa, the number of infected people increased as the economy resumed. However, since the tourism industry is highly important in Okinawa, they are accepting tourists while wearing new masks and disinfecting their hands to protect their new lifestyle. Other popular destinations such as Hokkaido are welcoming travelers with the same idea. However, some areas are not welcoming tourists, so it is necessary to check carefully before traveling.

From the official site of Go To Travel for travel agents

The Japanese government started “Go to travel campaign” in late July for domestic travelers. I understand “Go to travel” is something wrong in English. Go to travel campaign is Japanese English, and in Japan, English is often used to create English-style words.

Aside from that, this is an economic policy to stimulate domestic tourism demand and to revitalize the tourism industry that has been exhausted by lock down. Travelers can save up to 35% when they book a trip through a designated travel agency.

Just before the start of the campaign, travel to and from Tokyo was excluded because the number of infected people in Tokyo increased. The exclusion of Tokyo, the largest market, questioned the effectiveness of this campaign.

However the number of infected people is declining in Tokyo, and the Japanese government has determined that Tokyo has reached a level where it is acceptable to lift the ban on the campaign. The Japanese government expect to add travel to and from Tokyo to “Go To Travel” from Ocotober.

The Governor of Tokyo welcomed tourism-related businesses in Tokyo to gain momentum for business recovery.

Flight

Haneda Airport Terminal 3

The number of international flights has been drastically reduced, and most of them depart and arrive at Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports. There are a few flights to Kansai Airport in Osaka. However, most flights operate several times a week, and few routes operate daily.

Domestic flights have been considerably reduced, but more than half of them operate. However, the airlines use smaller aircraft than usual to reduce the number of seats. The flight may be full.

Train

The Tokaido Shinkansen runs as normal. Other train lines runs as normal too.

Basically most trains run normally. Only the airport access express trains are suspended drastically, such as Narita Express and the limited express Haruka.

However, the train occupancy rate remains low because most residents in Japan are not yet active in travel and many people travel by car to prevent contact with other people. Even during the summer busy season, mid-August, the Obon period, the occupancy rate for each train was less than half the capacity.

Yellow parts are sanitized when a vechile comes to a garage.(C) JR East

Currently, seat reservations for trains are perfectly fine and contact with others is minimized on any train. In addition, each railway company puts a lot of effort into sanitization, and when trains enter the garage, these are all sanitized. So the first car in the morning is kept very clean. If you take a train but are concerned about the infection, the first train in the morning is recommended.

In addition, green cars have a wider seat spacing than ordinary cars, further reducing contact with other people.

Green (left)/Non Reserved Ordinary (right) Don't take Non Reserved Ordinary on Max. 3+3 seat configuration is terrible! (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Green (left)/Ordinary (right) (C) Sonic Rail Garden

By the way, the window does not open on Shinkansen and limited express trains, but all the air is replaced in 6 to 8 minutes by the air conditioner and ventilation system.

Accommodation measures

The method differs depending on the hotel, but all hotels are making a great effort for sanitization. First, the guest will thoroughly sanitize before check-in.

  • Hand sanitizing at the entrance of the hotel
  • Depending on the hotel, a sanitizing mat is laid to disinfect the soles of shoes.
  • Temperature measurement when entering the hotel

In addition to sanitizing the room, they are trying various methods to prevent infection.

  • High-frequency sanitization of common areas such as the front desk, lobby, and restaurants
  • All employees wear masks
  • Keeping social distance over 2m
  • Guests must wear masks in common areas except mealtime
  • Restaurants have fewer tables than usual and time limits are set to reduce contact with other guests and staff.

Since the hotel will have a significant impact on the business if an infected person comes out of a facility, they have taken sufficient measures and the risk of infection is extremely low.

Attractions and restaurants

Depending on the facility or store, they may operate in a shorter time, have a limited number of visitors, or require advance reservations. In addition, you may be required to wear a mask, so it is necessary to confirm beforehand on the official website.

Especially in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, as the number of infected people increases, there are requests for shorter working hours at restaurants.

Mask and sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is placed everywhere to keep your hands clean. In addition, hand sanitizer and mask are available at drug stores and supermarkets. I will show you two phrases in Japanese from now on. If you show this at the store, you can buy it even if you don’t understand Japanese.

マスクはありますか?

It means, do you carry masks?

消毒液はありますか?

It means, do you sell hand sanitizer?

Last Word

I will follow information about Covid-19 situation in Japan. And I will update this page as I need to do.

Hope everything will be back to normal soon and we can travel anywhere.

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