Asia | Travel Tips & News

Japan is now open to tourists – here's where to visit first

The wait is finally over. Japan is re-opening its borders to international tourism on Tuesday, 11 October 2022.

After over two years of entry restrictions, this spells excellent news for Japan-hungry travellers – who are now free to travel around Japan independently: without a travel agent and an Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (ERFS) certificate. Here’s all you need to know.

Do I need a VISA?

Travellers from 68 countries can enter Japan without a VISA if they wish to stay under 90 days at a time.

Do I need to quarantine?

No. There is no requirement for previously marked COVID ‘high risk’ countries to quarantine. And the former country categorisations into ‘red’, ‘yellow’ and ‘blue’ entry requirements has been scrapped. Instead, only travellers with COVID symptoms are given a PCR test on their arrival.

Can I still travel if I am unvaccinated?

Yes. Non-vaccinated travellers must submit a negative PCR test 72 hours before departing for Japan to gain entry.

Wonderful news! So where should I travel in Japan?

river in Tokyo

It’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy shop while in Japan. As you enter a world of captivating cultural traditions, clever technology, natural beauty and tastebud-tingling food.

From silky-smooth sashimi to Shinto shrines; and from Tokyo’s neon-lit nights to traditional tea ceremonies and mountain hot springs – you can find the best of Japan in this handy pocket guide.

5 jaw-dropping spots you’ll visit in Japan with Trafalgar

We do the travelling planning for you so you can experience this fascinating country without a (stressful) second-thought.

Tokyo

Tokyo

Nothing stirs the senses like Japan’s capital, Tokyo. Shortly after your arrival, we’ll take you to the Sensoji Buddhist Temple (Tokyo’s oldest temple dated to the year 628), where beautiful gardens, sweet-smelling incense and amazing five-story architecture launch you back in time. Next, immerse yourself in Japan’s food culture with a sushi-making class and discover why Japan’s sushi chefs require 10 years of training to be fully qualified.

Elsewhere, you can try on a traditional kimono with the help of a local stylist. Slurp away ridiculously good ramen and taste local beer in a Japanese izakaya. And keep your eyes peeled for traditional Edo (‘old Tokyo’) neighbourhoods nestled among the modern city skyline during your cruise along the Sumida River.

GET INSPIRED BY: Classic Japan (11 days)

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, Japan

Our journey 100km southwest of Tokyo brings you to UNESCO-listed Mount Fuji. Called ‘Fujisan’ by locals, this (often snow-capped) active volcano is a cultural and sacred symbol of Japan (as Shinto’s believe its peak is home to the goddess Sengen-Sama). And you can venture up 2,300 metres (of its 3,776 total) to soak in staggering views of the Fuji five lakes and sleepy villages below on any Japan tour.

We guarantee the hairs on the back of your neck will spike up on your visit here.

Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan

Get to know Kyoto. Found on Honshu Island, it’s widely considered Japan’s cultural capital for its Buddhist temples, shrines, Zen gardens traditional wooden houses, kaiseki dining, gorgeous architecture and living traditions like kaiseki dining and Bunraku puppet theatre.

You will stay in a traditional ryokan (inn) here, built in 1932 to serve as the second residence of Emperor Akihito’s uncle. Plus get to know the delicate rituals of a ‘Ryurei style’ Japanese tea ceremony before tea tasting. But there’s more: gaze at Kyo-Mai dance and admire puppet performances, or belly laugh during a Kyogen Theatre performance.

Before you leave, stroll across the 155 metre long Togetsukyo Bridge over Katsura River for a spine-tingling experience as you’re wrapped in bright green nature.

GET INSPIRED BY: Splendours of Japan with Hiroshima (13 days)

Hiroshima

Hiroshima, Japan
Itsukushima shrine

Commemorate World War II’s bombing of Hiroshima (in 1945) at Peace Memorial Park and Museum (the only structure left after the bombing) and learn how it changed the city’s landscape. Shortly after, you’ll quickly discover there’s more to this city on Honshu Island than past catastrophe. As you spend time in a stunning shukkei-en garden in central Hiroshima (an Edo-style historic Japanese garden) that takes you on a weaving walk around gardens, lakes, bridges and smaller islands.

You’ll also head up to the Orizuru Tower – a symbol of peace named after the folded paper crane (the bird variety) – for panoramic views over Hiroshima City and Miyajima Island (on a clear day).

Osaka

Osaka, Japan

Foodies find paradise in Osaka, where the smells of finger-licking Japanese street food sway through its enchanting narrow lanes. Especially on Dotonbori street – which you can explore at leisure. When you’re full, hop on a scenic cruise down the Okawa River which snakes through the city. Keep your eyes peeled for Osaka Castle – a beloved landmark for its role in unifying Japan in the 16th century.

We’ll also take you to the Floating Garden Observatory – an open-air viewing platform that straddles the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building. Safe to say – you will always remember Osaka.

Ready to explore Japan? Leave any questions below or find out more about our Japan tours: here.

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