Forget Visas and Package Tours: Japan Has Officially Reopened to Individual Tourists

After two-and-a-half years of strict border rules, Japan has reopened to tourists from Down Under — and your dream getaway is back on.
Sarah Ward
October 11, 2022

Perhaps you're keen to check out Studio Ghibli's upcoming theme park. Maybe you're desperate to hit up a Super Nintendo theme park, too. You could've always wanted to walk across Shibuya's famous scramble crossing — or you might be eager to sing karaoke in a ferris wheel. Fancy simply eating and drinking your way around all the ramen joints and izakayas possible? That's perfectly understandable as well.

Whichever reason (or reasons) are motivating your dream Japanese holiday, they're all achievable again — including hitting up that Studio Ghibli park when it starts spiriting fans away at the beginning of November. Today, Tuesday, October 11, for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has reopened its borders to individual international tourists.

And no, you no longer need to book a package through a travel agency, or abide by the country's pandemic-era visa restrictions, to enjoy your getaway.

Suitcases at the ready, eager travellers. The move comes after two-and-a-half years of border restrictions, and came into effect at 12am on Tuesday, October 11 Japanese time.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the news back in September, advising that the country has previously "flourished through the free flow of people, goods and capital," as per Reuters.

"COVID-19, of course, interrupted all of these benefits, but from October 11 Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the US, as well as resume visa-free travel and individual travel," he continued.

That means that visitors to Japan can now make their own travel arrangements — a huge change to the most recent rules. Until May, the country was closed to international tourists. Then, the Japanese government started trialling in letting strictly controlled package tours, including with Australian tourists. Next, in early June, it broadened those entry requirements to allow in visitors from a heap of nations under the same rules. And, from early September until now, it permitted travellers, including from Down Under, to make the journey even when they aren't on guided tours, as long as they have organised their flights and accommodation through a travel agency.

Also now in effect: dropping the visa requirement, which applies to visitors from nations that weren't required to obtain tourist visas before the pandemic — including from Australia and New Zealand. So, in several ways, heading to Japan has returned to the pre-COVID-19 status quo.

Japan has also ditched its daily cap on international arrivals, which was most recently set at 50,000.

There are a few caveats, though. You do need to provide one of two forms of proof regarding the pandemic to enter. You'll either need you will need to have a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate with at least three doses noted, or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure (and that test has to be a PCR, not a rapid antigen test).

And, there's also a COVID-19 questionnaire to fill out.

Wondering what to do in Japan? Check out this Concrete Playground Trips package, which'll take you on a cultural tour from Kyoto to Tokyo.

Japan's new border rules came into effect on Tuesday, October 11. For further details about visiting Japan and its border restrictions, head to the Government of Japan website.


Feeling inspired to book a getaway? You can now book your next dream holiday through Concrete Playground Trips with deals on flights, stays and experiences at destinations all around the world.

Published on October 11, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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