Travel restrictions are common during pandemics. While tourists are primarily at risk, this can be a major inconvenience to people in other industries and countries. Such is the case for Japan right now. This article will give you all the details you need to know about travel restrictions to Japan.
What are the current Japanese travel restrictions?
U.S. citizens are currently permitted to enter Japan for tourism purposes. As of October 11, 2022, visa-free travel was resumed and U.S. passport holders no longer need a visa to stay up to three months. However, travelers must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket and cannot work during the 90-day visa-free entry.
Upon arrival in Japan, travelers will be required to complete documentation and may be required to download several smartphone applications. If a traveler does not have a smartphone, most international airports offer an option for travelers to rent one upon arrival.
Starting November 1, 2022, travelers to Japan may pre-register for airport Immigration, Customs, and Vaccination review, and use “Fast Track” at major airports across Japan using Visit Japan Web.
The Japanese government requires all travelers to take a PCR test prior to travel. Additionally, travelers from mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) or who were in mainland China within seven days of their arrival in Japan will be tested upon arrival.
Furthermore, travelers who need to bring more than the MLHW’s approved quantity of medication or medical devices should obtain a “Yakkan Shoumei” (importation certificate) prior to traveling and present it with the prescription to a customs officer upon arrival in Japan.
During their stay in Japan, travelers must agree to follow COVID protocols including social distancing and wearing face masks in confined spaces.
All cross-border travelers and returnees from some of the countries/regions which are separately listed among designated countries/regions are requested to stay at facilities designated by the Chief of the Quarantine Station for 6, 3, or 10 days depending on the country/region of origin.
Additionally, travelers must stay for the remaining period of 7 days after entry into Japan at places such as their own residence and take two additional COVID-19 tests on the third and sixth days after entering the country.
For comprehensive information regarding the current travel restrictions, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage or contact the Japanese immigration Information Centers.
Restrictions on Bringing items into or out of Japan
When traveling to or from Japan, it is important to be aware of the items that are restricted or prohibited.
Japan strictly prohibits entry and/or exit of certain items such as narcotics and related utensils, firearms, firearm parts and ammunition, explosives and gunpowder, precursor materials for chemical weapons, germs that are likely to be used for bioterrorism, counterfeit goods or imitation coins or currency, obscene materials, or goods that violate intellectual property rights.
Items related to health such as medical products, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and chemicals must also be evaluated by Japanese Customs before being imported.
In addition, one must also be mindful of plants and animals that require inspection by a plant or animal quarantine officer prior to Customs examination.
Furthermore, Japan also restricts items such as firearms (pistols, etc.), ammunition (bullets) thereof, and pistol parts; explosives (dynamite, gunpowder, etc.); books, drawings, carvings and other items that harm public security and customs; child pornography; as well as heroin, cocaine, MDMA, opium, cannabis, stimulants, psychotropic substances, and other narcotic drugs (excluding those designated by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance).
It is important to note that false declaration or failure to declare any restricted items may be subject to a penalty in the laws and regulations concerned. Therefore, it is highly recommended to double-check what is allowed to be brought into Japan or taken out of Japan before packing your luggage.
For more information, one can refer to the websites of Japan Customs, Animal Quarantine Station, Plant Quarantine Station, Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and the U.S. Embassy for detailed guidelines.
Visiting specific places
Visiting certain parts of Japan may be restricted due to safety concerns. Japan is prone to natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.
The northeast is more likely to encounter earthquakes, and Okinawa, Hokkaido, and Kyushuu are more prone to typhoons. Generally, visitors should check the government’s international travel advisory before booking any travel plans.
Additionally, there are a few places in the world that are off-limits to tourists, such as Lascaux Caves in France, North Sentinel Island in India, Surtsey Island in Iceland, Ise Grand Shrine in Japan, North Brother Island in the USA, Dulce Base in the USA, and Heard Island in Australia.
Fortunately, Japan is an extremely safe country, and since October 11, 2022, U.S. citizens no longer need a visa to stay up to three months.
The Japanese government has implemented several measures to prevent the spread of novel coronaviruses such as Electronic Customs Declaration Gates (e-Gates), contact information for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and smartphone applications.
Pickpocketing and bag snatching are common in tourist landmarks and crowded areas, but not nearly as common as in major Western countries. Women traveling alone are generally safe, though they should remain aware of the existence of chikan, which means molesters or gropers.
Most of Japan is safe to visit, with some cities being even safer than others. Kyoto, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Kawasaki, Nagoya, and Yokohama are considered some of the safest cities in Japan.
Ultimately, visitors should always remain vigilant and follow their common sense when traveling in Japan.