Japan border reopening for tourists

Old Jun 3rd, 2022, 10:00 PM
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Thanks for the thought, but as I mentioned previously, my family are in Australia, not Japan.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2022, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Thanks for the thought, but as I mentioned previously, my family are in Australia, not Japan.
Oh, sorry about that. I didn't get it that your son was actually IN Australia (I just thought he was AN Australian).
But who knows, there's a good chance Japan will be open to anyone in autumn!
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Old Jun 4th, 2022, 08:36 PM
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Thanks, we’re looking into this but could hit some roadblocks with official documents. I previously mentioned a “looooong story”, think non-Japanese in 1950’s rural Japan.

But I greatly appreciate your thoughts and efforts! Still hoping like many others things open up for independent travelers this autumn.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 02:48 PM
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Some promising developments regarding our official documents. The embassy said what we’ve been able to gather as proof of familial relationship is acceptable. So we’re going to start getting the necessary paperwork from her mom to start the visa application. The embassy said best to submit everything two months from our travel dates as things could possibly change for entry by then. Perhaps a hopeful sign of opening up further.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 10:45 AM
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Got an email today about self-guided tours to Japan. They look like they give a good bit of independence. A lot of the packages are for multi-city visits to places that I have already visited. I took a look at one that was 8 days Tokyo and the hotels were supposedly 3* with the example being one that cost around US$50 (maybe less) :{ per night. There is a 4* upgrade. And there is an option for a single supplement.

I used the company (Japan Experience) to get my JR Pass three years ago, maybe drove to their office to get the voucher.

Here is a link that lists their 33 tours:
Self-Guided Tours in Japan | Japan Experience (japan-experience.com)

crefloors, here is the one for Tokyo that might be of interest if your return trip would get you to Tokyo on/after Oct 1.
Japan Tour - City Break Tokyo | Japan Experience (japan-experience.com)

And a week or so ago United suddenly had a bunch of dates in October with award availability from US (LAX) to Tokyo for 70k miles for business class.

Last edited by mrwunrfl; Jul 14th, 2022 at 10:52 AM.
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mrwunrfl View Post
Got an email today about self-guided tours to Japan. They look like they give a good bit of independence. A lot of the packages are for multi-city visits to places that I have already visited. I took a look at one that was 8 days Tokyo and the hotels were supposedly 3* with the example being one that cost around US$50 (maybe less) :{ per night. There is a 4* upgrade. And there is an option for a single supplement.

I used the company (Japan Experience) to get my JR Pass three years ago, maybe drove to their office to get the voucher.

Here is a link that lists their 33 tours:
Self-Guided Tours in Japan | Japan Experience (japan-experience.com)

crefloors, here is the one for Tokyo that might be of interest if your return trip would get you to Tokyo on/after Oct 1.
Japan Tour - City Break Tokyo | Japan Experience (japan-experience.com)

And a week or so ago United suddenly had a bunch of dates in October with award availability from US (LAX) to Tokyo for 70k miles for business class.
mrwunfl, I couldn’t see a crefloors in this thread so assume your comments were aimed at me? If so, many thanks! Indeed, if not then thanks anyway! This looks as though it could be a solution albeit an expensive one. Our flights with ANA were on an “inclusive tour’ basis .

it certainly warrants further investigation. Many thanks!
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 11:42 AM
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crellston, yes that was for you. good luck
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Old Jul 14th, 2022, 12:09 PM
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I am not under the impression that Japan has opened to tourists other than those on the non-independent tours!
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Old Jul 15th, 2022, 04:52 AM
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As mentioned by Mara, non-group tourists are still not allowed to enter Japan. And all groups must have a full-time guide every single day from entry to departure. There are no exceptions. So out of curiosity, I checked a few of the 33 "solo" tours offered by Japan Experience from the given link.

Even though they are all listed as "self guided" some in fact are fully guided such as the Okaeri Tour, but it does seem to be a good value considering how a full-time guide is included.

Other tours are in fact solo (with no actual guide) but they don't start availability until October (which is still not sure to even be possible yet).

But many of those tours are solo (non-guided) and offer availability starting from late July, but this availability is either purposely misleading or blindly ignorant (yet if they are a solid Japan-focussed tour agency, I cannot imagine such ignorance).

For the foreseeable future (definitely not in July or August) a solo traveler cannot visit Japan unless accompanied with a guide at all times. Period. They do not explain or suggest this in most of these tour listings (except with the Okaeri tour, where they do give the Covid restriction details), but somehow they still suggest these tours are in fact available without a guide.

With some of these tours you can see the FAQs way at the bottom, and the question (on some tours, but not all) is given for "What are the procedures for entry?" to which the rather misleading and/or out-dated answer is: "Due to the current crisis, we advise you to visit the website of the Japanese embassy in your country to find out about the procedures for entry. Normally, for citizens of the European Union, Switzerland and Canada, you just need a valid passport (for the duration of your stay). A visa is not necessary for a tourist stay of less than 90 days."

That answer actually isn't just misleading... it is utterly false. The only way a foreign tourist can currently enter Japan is with a group tour booking, and the tourist visa needs to be arranged through the embassy in conjunction with the tour agency. And the only tours that are allowed must be fully guided (like the Okarri Tour)

This agency should know better than to offer something that is not possible. Be cautious.

Last edited by Wilk67; Jul 15th, 2022 at 04:58 AM.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 10:06 AM
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Wilk67, thanks for looking more closely.

Their email is a bit more clear:
  • Currently, foreign travelers must obtain a visa in advance to travel to Japan with an authorized tour operator - this is the case of Japan Experience.
  • Accompanied travel does not mean group travel ! There is no limit to the number of visitors and you can travel alone, as a couple, with friends or family.
  • We are still expecting a full reopening of the Japanese border in the upcoming months for independent travelers, but you can start planning your trip now !
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 12:38 AM
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Just took a call from my travel agent offering a full refund of our airfares. They are the leading agency in the UK and have taken the (admirable) decision to offer clients full refunds now rather than one week before travel which they are contractually obliged to do. This will enable clients to source alternative arrangement.

Desperate to see the family that I haven't seen for three years and a new grandson that I have never seen, I did try and source alternative flights but they were coming in at nearly 3 times what I paid. I looked at downgrading to Premium Economy which was still way more than I paid and a back condition prevents me going economy.

More fool me for jumping on those cheap flights.

Thank you Japan! You are now firmly on my no fly list. We will not be returning, ever!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 07:28 AM
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>> More fool me for jumping on those cheap flights.

You were absolutelly brilliant to jump on those fares. I understand you are disappointed and that the uncertainty was emotionally difficult. You made a joyful plan when the future was uncertain (moreso than normal) and I admire that you took the chance.

252
I was going to post on this thread today because I learned that the reopening from June 10-30 brought in only 252 foreign tourists to Japan.

I assume that your TA isn't making the refund out of their own pocket but are getting in from ANA. Oh, I guess maybe it is paid by insurance. If ANA is making the refund then I would think it was in their interest to change your flight, at no cost to you, to be a simple connection in Tokyo and instead of the stopover you just transit in Japan.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 10:28 AM
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I feel for you crellston and completely understand your frustration. Hopefully in time when Japan fully reopens you’ll feel differently about visiting family. But I totally get it.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by curiousgeo View Post
I feel for you crellston and completely understand your frustration. Hopefully in time when Japan fully reopens you’ll feel differently about visiting family. But I totally get it.
Thank you CuriousGeo. My family are in Australia rather than Japan and I have every intention of visiting them as soon as I can. However, when I do, there is absolutely no way I will be going via Japan. There is a lot to love about the country but this pandemic has resurrected the xenophobia and racism that has been simmering in Japanese society for centuries.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 11:18 AM
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Ah my mistake, for some reason I thought your family was living in Japan. By the way, we have tentative plans to visit Melbourne in 2023. Transiting through Japan though so tentative is the key word.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 11:19 AM
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mrwunrfl - Yes I am disappointed but I am also angry. Japan has every right to close of its country and I could understand and accept that if it were for the right reasons but it clearly isn't . Whether this is a result of political expediency or public opinion I am not sure, probably a combination thereof. Japan has burn its bridges as far as I am concerned and, judging by the he fact that only 252 tourist have accepted Japans onerous conditions for entry, I suspect I am not alone.

Trailfinders, my TA are unique amongst UK travel agents in that they hold all monies paid by clients for airfares and accommodation in a segregated true account and only release it to airlines and hotels AFTER their clients have returned home. The covid guarantees they provide are second to none which is one of the reasons I use them. Their T&Cs state that they will refund all moneys , no questions asked if clients are unable to gain entry or are required to quarantine in any country en route or at the destination one week before departure. The fact that they are offering refunds six weeks in advance of when they need to speaks volumes to their business ethics.
I am able to get refunded anytime between now and departure. I think they are offering refund now to give their clients a fighting chance of booking somewhere else.

"I would think it was in their interest to change your flight, at no cost to you, to be a simple connection in Tokyo and instead of the stopover you just transit in Japan." Yes, you would think so wouldn't you? Sadly, economics rules and demand has far outstripped supply.

I suppose I could wait and see if anything changes in the next few weeks, but I feel that that is a remote possibility and will likely book for sometime next year in the hope of finding some reasonably priced flights. I think I may try a different approach next time - maybe PE flights with a week in Asia or the US each way to break the flight. My back may just about cope with that!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 01:13 PM
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How about a train trip across the US for that week? Fly into NY, train to Chicago for a few days, train to San Francisco, fly out. Amtrak isn't up to European standards (and definitely get a bedroom/roomette), but the scenery is good. I did that trip back in 2012: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...shore-limited/
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
mrwunrfl - Yes I am disappointed but I am also angry. Japan has every right to close of its country and I could understand and accept that if it were for the right reasons but it clearly isn't . Whether this is a result of political expediency or public opinion I am not sure, probably a combination thereof. Japan has burn its bridges as far as I am concerned
Perhaps you have not seen in the news where you are, but Japan is currently undergoing its worst by far wave of Covid infection with no sign yet of it slowing up.

Maybe where you are Covid has become a more common occurrence and generally accepted, but in staving off previous waves Japan has actually painted itself into a corner. Pre-Omicron only about 2% of Japan had ever caught any form of Covid, so the widespread lack of natural immunity has left them vulnerable for exactly the outbreak they are having now (this was always feared as a distinct possibility), and this wave is now starting to swamp the hospitals (especially when health workers are forced to be out when they too get sick).

As angry as you may feel, I hope you can give a bit of understanding that Covid affects different places in different ways at different times so it results in different reactions and policies (that are not based is perceived xenophobia).

*I'm very sure Japan right now is relieved that thousands if not millions of non-Japanese-speaking foreign tourists are not floating around to every corner of the country potentially clogging up an already strained health system, and since they would have no home to retreat to, also in full need of quarantine facilities that don't exist in any sizable way outside of major cities.

As I'm sure you are aware, Australia right now is also wrestling with an Omicron explosion that is straining their health system (also due to an utter lack of prior natural immunity) and you should only hope they don't re-instate any travel restrictions if you can still arrange a visit.

Last edited by Wilk67; Jul 23rd, 2022 at 06:16 PM.
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Old Jul 24th, 2022, 01:16 AM
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Thanks Thursdaysd. Love your thinking outside the box! ! As it is, it just wont work for this trip as fares have skyrocketed. It may well be an option for next year with a combo of airline points UK-US and paid flights from LAX or SFO. In between, I love your idea of a train ride across the US or even renting a car and driving. We have friends and aquaintances all over the US that keep inviting us so one of these days we may turn up on their doorsteps!

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Old Jul 24th, 2022, 04:20 AM
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You're welcome! Sadly, I won't be able to offer you a bed myself after next month.

Have you read this thread? Threads on RTW trips and/or RTW fares? I did RTWs three times (in biz!) on a FF award which has sadly been discontinued, but there may be others. That award allowed one open segment, one trip that was Glasgow to Bangkok! I sympathize with needing more comfort on long haul flights. My back holds up but I can't sleep unless I'm horizontal. (I still remember one wonderful flight on Qantas from Bangkok to London where they even provided sleepwear.)
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