Japan reopens 10 June – with one massive string attached
Japan is slowly reopening and the way in is on a fully escorted tour.
Earlier this week Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed that Japan was accepting tourists from 10 June 2022.
The major caveat here was that all visitors had to be booked on packaged tours.
Now, after talking to Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) Sydney's executive director, Yoko Tanaka, we've discovered another major caveat: You'll have to be escorted the whole time.
That's from the moment you arrive at the airport to the moment you drop your bags off to return to Australia.
"The changes from 10 June apply to travellers on fully escorted package tours. There is no requirement for number of days or number of passengers, and flights may be booked separately, but the trip must be fully escorted from arrival airport to departure airport," Tanaka told Finder.
What will this cost?
Being on a packaged tour you might think the cost is going to build up. But it doesn't have to if you catch the right deal.
For example, if you want to travel this year, TripADeal has a 10-day tour in November, including international flights on Qantas, from $2,799 return.
This is based on twin-share and comes up to $280 a day. It includes all accommodation and some meals.
Those who'd prefer to try and DIY it can book their flight and tour separately. Though it might not wind up much cheaper.
Looking at Skyscanner one of the cheapest return flights to Tokyo this year is from the Cairns and costs $841. These flights are for 14-19 November 2022.
To tack on a tour, TourRadar has a Tokyo, Kyoto and Alps tour for that travel window costing $2,733 per person. This includes all accommodation, transport and some meals.
Looking at your options, offerings are still slim compared to before the pandemic. But following news of the reopening we're anticipating an increase soon.
Tanaka said, "JNTO Sydney welcomes this first step toward the recovery of inbound tourism to Japan. We are looking ahead to a broader resumption of travel to Japan from Australia, and are working with travel agencies, airlines, and other organisations, to prepare."
Will I get free time to explore?
Details of whether you'll be allowed to travel independently during your tour haven't been confirmed yet.
What we do know is that you can't simply go on tour and then continue on your own.
If you want to stay longer you'll have to be on another fully escorted tour.
What else should I know?
Outside of being on tour, the rules for Australians are fairly relaxed.
All you'll need is a negative PCR no less than 72-hours prior to departure to avoid quarantine, this is regardless of your vaccination status.
More COVID-19 guidelines for tourists will be announced on 7 June.