Guide to travel to Japan in 2022


Of all the countries we Singaporeans love to travel to for vacation, Japan is perhaps at the top of the list. Before the pandemic, vacations in Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Osaka were our go-tos, whether for sights, shopping, and of course, food.

While Japan has yet to fully open its borders to tourism, we have finally heard some good news about the resumption of leisure travel that has us breathless. Here’s what we know so far:


What we know about the latest announcement


According to Japan Tourism Agency Press Release, visitors from only 4 countries – Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States – are allowed to enter at the moment. You must also be triple vaccinated, have private medical insurance, and adhere to all infection control measures while in Japan.

This “reopening” will also be done in a restricted and controlled manner; according to local Japanese media, only 50 people will be allowed to visit the country at this time. And no, it’s not 50 from each country, but 50 in total.

The group must be part of an organized tour group with a defined itinerary, operated by selected Japanese travel agencies. Unfortunately, the details of said travel agencies are quite discreet at the moment, so it would be best to wait until they fully reopen before planning to visit them.

entry requirements to japan

That being said, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hinted at a recent press conference that the country is expected to reopen more widely in June this year, although details are scarce at this time. Fingers crossed, there will be good news then!


Traveling to Japan today


Apart from this experimental entry of tourists, border control in Japan is currently quite strict. Visitors are only allowed for non-recreational purposes and arrivals are capped at 10,000 per day. The list includes Japanese nationals, people with families residing in Japan, students and people traveling for short work trips of less than 3 months.

Depending on the country you are from, there are different quarantine requirements when entering Japan. You can check the updated border measures whether you are planning a business or long-term trip.


Current situation of Covid-19 in Japan


Assuming you’re one of the very lucky 50 allowed to visit, here’s what you can expect if you’re in Japan.

For a, The Japanese version of safe management measures have never been legally enforced, although the majority of the population has been fairly compliant with the guidelines.

japanese foodYou can take off your mask when you snack on all the delicious local dishes.

Just like in Singapore, masks are expected indoors and on public transport, and you can only take them off during meals. Social distancing is still in place and most tourist sites will require visitors to reserve their seats in advance. Some places impose a capacity limit and people are encouraged to avoid dining in large groups.

Overall, these aren’t the strictest rules, and since we experienced a similar set of rules with P2 and P2 (HA) here in Singapore, it should be easy for us.


The best things to do in Japan


As we look forward to a more proper reopening, it certainly doesn’t hurt to start planning the places we look forward to visiting. Here’s what we put on our to-do list:


Tokyo


entry requirements to japan
Shibuya Sky Observation Deck

If you plan to start your trip right in the capital itself, there is no shortage of things to do. Every trip to Tokyo must involve visiting the iconic Shibuya Junction, as well as the full range of shopping options in the area. While you are here, head to the Shibuya Sky Observation Deck to Shibuya Scramble Squarefor a breathtaking view of the city.

anime
Anime fans can get their hands on the merchandise at Animate.
Image credit: @jean_._g

Speaking of teenage culture, if you’re a closet otaku while waiting to release your final form, be sure to head to Ikebukuro in Tokyo. The area is famous for anime and cosplay culture, and is home to Japan’s largest anime mall, Animate, which has 9 floors packed with manga collections and anime-related merchandise.

tokyo disneyland

Another must visit in Tokyo must be Tokyo Disneyland. It’s entirely possible to spend almost an entire day here with the rides, parades and shows, and relive our childhood with our beloved Disney cartoon characters. Pro tip: For a truly magical experience, be sure to stay until the fireworks at night.

If your budget is tight, don’t worry; there is a lot of free things to do in tokyo like strolling through the Imperial Palace Gardens, taking a scenic boat ride at Yokojikken Gawa Shinsui Park, or even taking a brewery tour at the Suntory Musashino Factory.


Osaka


Away from Tokyo, another popular destination that Singaporeans love to travel to is Osaka, which many believe are synonymous with street food culture in Japan. A go-to food we recommend are takoyaki balls, which you can get at Takoyaki Park.

takoyaki

Of course, no trip to Osaka is complete without a day spent in dotonbori, which is iconic for its food options at street stalls and restaurants. For inspiration, check out our recs on the Must-try food items in Dotonbori.

Osaka Castle
There are many places of interest such as Osaka Castle.

Besides food, you can also do some retail therapy, shopping at Osaka’s thrift stores and points of sale. The options cover a wide range of premium Hypebeast products, from vintage luxury brands to pre-loved products.

entry requirements to japan

And then there is of course Universal Studios Japan. Now you might be thinking: why go to the one in Japan when we already have one here in Singapore? On the one hand, the park offers unique attractions in Japan, such as the Sailor Moon and Godzilla shows. It’s also home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can try gems like butterbeer ice cream.


Hokkaido


If cities aren’t really your thing and you prefer the call of the wild, you might want to visit Hokkaido Instead. The northernmost island of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido is filled with natural hot springs, greenery and fresh seafood at Hokkaido Fish Markets.

entry requirements to japan
Image credit:
@okkoqhey

You can also venture out to hike some of the The natural sites of Hokkaidonot only to eliminate calories from excessive food consumption, but also to admire breathtaking sights such as the flower fields of Tomita Farm or the coast of Cape Kamui.

entry requirements to japan
Kochi’s Niyodo River – considered the most beautiful river in Japan.

More things to do in Japan:

  • Nagano Prefecture: Panoramic views and hiking trails for nature lovers.
  • Aomori and Iwate: For lovers of art and adventure to conquer the snowy mountains.
  • Kochi, Shikoku: Peaceful island with laid back outdoor activities.
  • Shikoku Island: For those looking for rest and rest in the middle of nature and the rich local culture.
  • Fukuoka City: Home to the famous Isle of Cats – need we say more?
  • City of Azumino: To experience the relaxed life of the Japanese countryside.

Looking forward to the reopening of Japan


entry requirements to japan
Towida Shrine in Aomori.

While Japan has yet to fully open to tourists, there are some good signs pointing to a broader easing of border closures on the horizon. With the small “test” of 50 tourists per day in place, hopefully the Japanese government will fully open the borders so we can visit all of our favorite places again.

In the meantime, check out other guides to Japan: