Why is Japan so cautious? In August 2021, Japan had more than 25,000 new COVID cases daily and the medical system was stretched to its limits, according to NPR. The hope was that planned, structured opening with only 20,000 approved arrivals each day would curb any coronavirus spread moving forward. 

The government raised the daily ceiling of inbound travelers to 50,000 from 20,000 and scrapped a requirement for visitors as well as returning residents to undergo pre-departure COVID-19 tests, easing what have been among the most restrictive border measures among major economies, according to a Reuters report. Starting October 11, individual tourists may visit Japan — and tourists with U.S. passports no longer need a visa to stay up to three months.

Although the government may change it’s policies for tourist entries, traveling to Japan with a safety net — such as the expertise of a tour organization or travel agent and the peace of mind provided by a travel protection plan — is a wise choice for many tourists. 

“Group tours, with an itinerary, are best for families who are traveling for the first time. That way you don’t have to figure out the trains and their schedule, and you they will have structure during vacation,” says Abbe Lane Imperial, BSN, RN, senior specialist in the operations department at Global Rescue.  

You’ll also have the backup of an expert guide.  

“Few locals speak English — thank goodness for Google Translate — and we are glad Japan changed the road signs to English,” Imperial said. 

busy Tokyo street at night

Japan Tour Package Ideas 

If you are looking to visit Japan, several Global Rescue Safe Travel Partners offer Japan tour packages. 

Skiing in January 2023: PowderQuest has three Japan bBackcountry sSki tTrips and sSplitboard tTours scheduled for January and February. Professionally certified ski guides host backcountry tours for small groups of advanced skiers. 

SASS Global Travel also provides a full-service, guided, backcountry ski experience at Kiroro, a resort with fewer crowds than other Hokkaido resorts.  

Japanese Culture: Remote Lands offers a 17-day heritage tour of Kyushu and Shikoku islands. A local guide takes visitors off the tourist trail to experience unique landscapes, architectural wonders and Japanese cuisine. 

What is it about Japan that resonates with travelers? Imperial shares her thoughts. 

“Japan is the mix of old and new. You can go to different parts of Tokyo and you will be amazed with the harmony of the traditional and pop culture,” Imperial said. “If you are a fan of anime, there is a dedicated street in Akihabara where you can shop to your heart’s content.  There are also stores where you can go shopping for vintage bags and watches.”  

It’s also a safe destination for travelers. Japan has a moderate health risk rating (due to COVID) and a low security risk rating (low levels of crime and civil unrest), according to Global Rescue’s destination report for Japan. Destination reports include entry requirements and required immunizations for 215 countries and principalities worldwide. With 125.8 million residents living in this island country, visitors may want to brush up on their crowd safety skills.  

“Visiting Japan is a must,” Imperial said. “The food and the culture are great, but mostly you will feel secure because the people are polite and respectful. You can leave your phone, come back to where you left it and it will still be there.” 

table off fresh produce outside a japanese business

Japan Travel Checklist 

The Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO) provides a trip checklist: 

Before Departure 

  • Book a guided package tour or book a trip with a travel agent. 
  • Apply for a Visa. 
  • Get a Covid-19 Negative Test Certificate, which will end ended on September 7 for inbound travelers who have been fully vaccinated including the booster dose. 
  • Go to Visit Japan Web for Immigration and Customs. Later, you will show your QR codes at the arrival airport. 

After Arrival 

No matter where you are visiting in Japan, JNTO recommends these preventative measures: 

  • Wearing masks 
  • Sanitizing hands 
  • Avoiding the 3 Cs: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings 

You should also follow the instructions given by your tour operator or travel agent. 

Returning Home 

Check the restrictions and requirements of your country of residence.  

When traveling to Japan — or any other country — Global Rescue members are already in the know with 24/7 travel advisory services. With one phone call, our Global Rescue medical and security travel experts can help you find COVID-capable health care providers or testing locations; review medical records virtually and, if needed, from your bedside; or access translation services. And you’ll always have access to destination reports, travel alerts, field rescue and medical evacuation. 

Then you’ll be prepared to visit Japan any time of the year. 

“April or May is the best season for Sakura (Cherry Blossom) viewing, and people gather around parks to experience the blossoms,” said Imperial, who has traveled to Japan four times to experience all four seasons. “When you visit in the winter, experiencing the onsen (hot springs) is relaxing after having fun at the ski slopes. Viewing the beautiful Mt. Fuji is perfect for all seasons.”