Making sense of Japan’s new tourism rules from September 7

Ginzan Onsen
Ginzan Onsen town, Japan

By now you’ve heard that Japan is open. Kind of.

If you ski and snowboard it’s the news you’ve been waiting for after Japan remained closed to independent travellers for over two years during Covid.

But just how “open” are they and what do you need to travel around the country to your favourite ski resorts in 2022/2023?

What we know

From September 7 Japan will be open to travellers who book through licensed travel companies. This does not include those just booking a hotel direct only.

Australian travel agents should theoretically be able to book your package tour for you, including accommodation, transfers, day trips, lift passes et al if they utilise a Japan licensed travel company.

The county is open to “blue” categorised countries such as Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and beyond. If you arrive from any of these countries you will no longer be required to self isolate upon arrival, nor will you be required to test upon arrival.

If you are triple vaccinated you no longer require a pre departure PCR test to arrive in the country. However if you are not vaccinated, or single or double vaccinated, you are allowed into the country but you will still require a pre-departure PCR test.

Those who arrive from a “blue” country will need to show they have been in that country for 14 days prior to arriving into Japan.

The daily visitor arrival cap of 20,000 will be increased to 50,000.

At this stage you will still need to apply for the short-term tourist visa, processing time currently takes 5 to 7 days, but your travel agency should be able to do this for you.  More information will come out soon.

Watch this space as we confirm details as they are released by the Japan government in the coming week.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.