March ’22 Update with Japan’s COVID Measures;

Mar 06 | Evan | No Comments |

Japan is easing restrictions with border control.

At last, we are excited to share some positive news with Japan’s border control with the COVID measures. Yes, finally, a lot of positive movements towards opening up Japan are happening. Unfortunately, Japan is not yet open for tourists as of March 1st 2022, but the country is finally reopening its border to international students, interns, and business personnel. Furthermore, travel restrictions for Japanese residents and travelers entering the country have eased greatly so hopefully in a few months down the line, we will be able to inform everyone happy news of Japan opening its borders to the tourist so that we can plan a photo tour of Japan by the end of year or even sooner! 

Updates that took place on Feb 10th, 2022

Let’s go step by step to illustrate the updates that have taken place in the last month. We will focus on the travel restrictions of travelers from the U.S. to Japan. Below updates took place on Feb 10th, 2022. 

1) The travelers from below states are required to stay at the government specified location for 3 days after the entry (previously 6 days) before moving to their own place of quarantine. 

Hawaii, Texas, and Massachusetts 

2) The travelers from below states are required to stay at the government specified location for 6 days (the duration of stay didn’t change) before moving to their own place of quarantine. 

California, Illinois, New York, and Florida 

*The number of quarantines remains the same for 7 days in total and those travelers from any other states not listed above could quarantine of their choice for the entire 7 days.

Information released on Feb 12th, 2022

1) Business & international students’ travel may ease as early as some time in Feb 2022, if not March 2022

2) The government will make a decision some time in the week of Feb 12th about opening the borders to international travelers. This change will take place sometime in March. 

Some of the things that are going to be discussed are: 

– Shortening quarantine to 3 or 5 days with COVID vaccinations & booster 

– Increase of daily number of people coming into the country from 3500 to 5000 

Major changes that took place on March 1st, 2022

A significant change to Japan’s brother control took place on March 1st, 2022. Besides shortening quarantine time, the Japanese government allowed people to use public transportation after landing in Japan to move to a quarantining location as well as finally opening a previously tightly closed border to certain groups of international people. Let’s take a look at each point of change that took place on March 1st focusing on quarantine first. (Below are cases for people traveling from the U.S. Depending on where people travel from, even with full vaccination and a booster, conditions may differ so if you are not traveling from the U.S., you need to check what conditions apply to where you are traveling from.) 

  1. As of March 1st, people traveling from the U.S. no longer need to quarantine at a government specified location once they travel to Japan. 
  2. If you are vaccinated and boosted, you no longer need to quarantine at all. Furthermore, you have no restrictions on using public transportation once you land in Japan. 
  3. If you are not vaccinated and boosted, you need to be quarantined for 7 days. However, if you get a PCR test on Day 3 and get a negative result, you can get out of quarantine. Furthermore, within 24 hours of landing, you can use public transportations.
  4. At the time of arrival, you need to show your vaccine passport, the PCR test result within 72 hours of pre-travel, PCR test at the airport, a letter of decoration, registering smartphone applications, and also answering Q & A. 

*Japan accepts below vaccines: 

  • 2 times of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or 1 time of Janssen
  • Booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna 

*Antigen tests are not adequate for replacing PCR tests. 

pagoda in gray scale shot

Finally opening its border to international people 

Let’s next take a look at what changes are brought to international travelers. A long awaited change finally took place on March 1st 2022, which is to reopen its borders to certain groups of international people. It’s a small, yet large step for Japan as the country has closed its border completely to international people since the rise of Omicrone in Dec 2021. This has placed Japan in a difficult spot at the global stage as Japan has been criticized by many countries around the world for its actions that Japan has been discriminatory towards foreigners. 

So who can travel to Japan and how can they travel to Japan? Let’s find out! 

International students and interns are finally welcomed back to Japan as of March 1st 2022. This is a significant step forward clearly to international students and interns who have been waiting a long time for the last two plus years despite being given a visa to enter. It is also a long awaited significant change for the Japanese economy and education as well. Furthermore, international business personnel are now allowed to travel to Japan for up to 3 months as long as the receiving side, a company or a sponsor can vouch for the individuals. Unfortunately at this time, international tourists are not yet allowed to travel to Japan. Furthermore, international people who have family members in Japan are not yet allowed to travel and visit their family or significant others in Japan. 

Conclusion…

The changes brought by Japan may be still too small to some people, but this is definitely a right move towards reopening the country pre-COVID stage that has long been awaited. From where Japan was a few months ago, the fact the country is now allowing international people to travel to or move to the country being a student/doing an internship is significant. Also the changes in procedures of quarantine once a traveler lands in the country are significant that a lot of people who were formerly hesitant to travel to Japan will be more willing to travel now. So… when will it be a time for tourists? That is unclear at this point, but Japan has indicated to reopen the country step by step so let’s hope we can plan a photography tour of Japan very soon! 

Will Japan finally open in March 2022? 

Feb 16 | Evan | No Comments |

When the pandemic broke out two plus years ago, nobody expected it to last this long. While the US is slowly getting back to some level of normalcy, Japan has been extremely strict when it comes to opening its borders to the outside world. As of Jan 23rd 2022, Japan is completely closed to foreigners. The country only allows its citizens and residents to travel internationally with strict monitoring once they enter the country. What can we expect from Japan in the coming months and when will we be able to plan a photo tour of Japan? Let’s find out what’s happening in Japan today and what may happen in the upcoming months. 

Japan’s current situation with the pandemic

Of course this could change anytime….

Japan is currently not open to any foreigners regardless of the purpose of the trip (okay, there are a very few exceptions). The only people who can travel to and from Japan are Japanese citizens or residents. It was though once opened up to foreigners when the Olympics was held in the summer of 2021 to those who were athletes or a part of the Olympics and further Japan decided to open its borders to business people and international students in November of 2021, but it was quickly shut down a month later with the rise of Omicron. 

Although the 14 days quarantine recently changed to 10 days quarantine on Jan 15th 2022, overall measures Japan is proposing such as not allowing any foreigners to enter the country does not seem to change at least till the beginning of March 2022. However, there is a movement by foreign nationals such as American researchers petitioning to open Japan’s borders as the President Biden and the new Japanese Prime Minister Kishida’s meeting is approaching (Kaori, Yoshida 2022, “Requesting Japan to relax its borders” a petition by American researchers ,Nihon Keizai Shimbun, accessed Jan 23rd 2022. Also, two hours before publishing this post, some positive news came out: Japan to cut 7-day quarantine period to 3, allow in more foreigners.

COVID Vaccines in Japan 

Japanese people’s vaccination rate is extremely high in comparison to the world wide average of 52.4%. As of January 23rd 2022, 79.2% of Japanese people, which is equivalent to 99.6 million people, are fully vaccinated. However, the booster shot is taking a while for the Japanese to get started. In December 2021, finally those in the medical fields started to receive a booster shot while the everyday citizen has not had a chance to receive a booster shot. It is only recently, the elderlies are given priorities to get the booster shot in January 2022. 

Besides the issues of delayed booster shots, Japanese children aged between 5 to 11 are finally approved to get COVID vaccines as of Jan 21st 2022, thus there are still large groups of vulnerable populations that are at risk of COVID, thus Japan seems to be extra cautious with opening its borders. 

person holding injection

14 days quarantine to 10 days quarantine 

The length of quarantine just recently changed from 14 days to 10 days when entering Japan. There was a movement for 7 days quarantine instead of 10 days, but at the end, 10 days quarantine was chosen as Japan is still very cautious with the rise of the Omicron variant and people’s movement from abroad.

This change took place on Jan 15th 2022. Though this quarantine is not so simple. Most travelers cannot choose the place of quarantine for the first 3, 6, or the whole 10 days. What this means is that depending on where the travelers come from, they are sent to the government specified quarantine hotels to monitor their health condition for the 3 days, 6 days, or 10 days after their arrival with day 1 starting from the next day of the arrival. Apparently, It is so strict that only one person can stay in a room with the exception of a young child. Otherwise, even families cannot stay in the same room in a hotel to quarantine. 

Traveling from the US as of Jan 2022 

So what’s happening to those who are traveling from the States? For those who can travel to Japan from the U.S., there is currently a 6 days or 3 days quarantine period at the government specified hotel before they can move to their own home to finish up the 10 days quarantine. People who travel from below states have to quarantine for 6 days at a government specified hotel to monitor their condition with day 3 and day 6 PCR tests as these states experience high omicron outbreaks. 

Illinois 

California 

Texas 

New York 

Hawaii 

Florida 

Massachusetts 

People traveling from any other states only need to quarantine for 3 days at a government specified location before they move onto their homes to finish up the 10 days quarantine. 

So what’s next? 

Despite other countries’ pressures, Japan’s new prime minister and his team seems to be pretty clear on how they want to handle the pandemic and it doesn’t look so bright for any foreigners to be able to freely visit Japan any time soon. Even though there seems to be a change in the beginning of March 2022, it would be certain groups of people such as business people and international students who will be prioritized before any American travelers for pressure can visit Japan. 

We never anticipated that the photo tours of Japan, and just traveling to Japan in general, wouldn’t be an option for this long but hopefully things will improve in March and we’ll hear some exciting news in the coming spring to summer to visit Japan during cherry blossom season!

First 2015 Cherry Blossom Forecast for Japan Released

Jan 24 | Evan | No Comments |

iStock_000032609814_SmallCherry blossom season is probably my favorite time of year to experience Japan but it’s not always exactly the dates for year to year.  The first cherry blossom forecast for 2015 of Japan’s cherry blossom season has been released by weathermap.jp! As with all forecasts, they are best guesses and will certainly be updated from now until the start of the 2015 cherry blossom season. Cherry blossoms, or sakura in Japanese, are particular fragile and even if the opening date is correct, weather, hard rain or strong winds can reduce the peak period or full bloom time that is best to view the cherry blossoms.sakuramap

It is still early, but right now, the general forecast is slightly ahead of the average first bloom and full bloom dates for the 2015 cherry blossom season. For more information on the average blooming dates of cherry blossom trees in Japan and best places to view cherry blossoms, take a look at japan-guide.com or JNTO.

Here are the current estimates for the opening blooms of cherry blossom trees in Japan for 2015, with full bloom expected to be around a week or so after:

Fukuoka | March 22
Matsuyama | March 24
Hiroshima | March 26
Miyajima | March 26
Kyoto | March 27
Osaka | March 27
Nara | March 29
Nagoya | March 24
Tokyo | March 24
Yokohama | March 24
Kanazawa | April 3

Updated February 4th, 2015 as the Japan Weather Association has released their first cherry blossom forecast for 2015 Spring season.

Fukuoka | March 21
Matsuyama | March 23
Hiroshima | March 25
Miyajima | March 25
Kyoto | March 27
Osaka | March 27
Nara | March 28
Nagoya | March 25
Tokyo | March 26
Yokohama | March 27
Kanazawa | April 4
Sendai | April 12
Hakodate | May 2
Sapporo | May 5

Updated February 19th, 2015 as Sakura Map has updated their cherry blossom forecast for 2015 sakura season. Just a reminder that these dates are the estimated opening date for cherry blossoms and full bloom should be around a week or so after.

Fukuoka | March 22
Matsuyama | March 25
Hiroshima | March 27
Miyajima | March 27
Kyoto | March 28
Osaka | March 27
Nara | March 29
Nagoya | March 25
Tokyo | March 26
Yokohama | March 26
Kanazawa | April 4
Sendai | April 10
Hakodate | May 2 (Sakura Map didn’t release yet, this is JMA’s forecast)
Sapporo | May 5 (Sakura Map didn’t release yet, this is JMA’s forecast)

2013 Cherry Blossom Forecast

Mar 02 | Evan | No Comments |

Every February brings (at least) 2 great things related to traveling to Japan:  The Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido and the first sakura (or cherry blossom) forecast for Japan.  If you plan on visiting Japan during cherry blossom season, head over to the Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO) site for some great information.

_EAP4522

Like the with the weather, predicting when the cherry blossom trees will be in full bloom is not 100% accurate, but usually it is within a few days.  Once the cherry blossoms are out, typically they can about a week or so, depending on the type of cherry blossom tree, size, location and weather during bloom.  After the sakura start to bloom, one strong windy and rainy day can shorten the length the cherry trees are in “full bloom.”  In any case, check out this graphic from the JNTO website or if you can read Japanse, you can go to tenki.jp directly where the JNTO gets their forecast.

JNTO’s Cherry Blossom Forecast:
2013 Cherry Blossom Forecast in Japan

Have vacation in March?  Let’s go to Japan!

 

There is still some space for a private custom tour of Japan with Japan Photo Guide!  Wanna take a last minute trip or hire me to come along on your already planned trip?  Contact me today!

_EAP4219

Can’t make it to Japan to see the cherry blossoms?  For information about the cherry blossom forecast in Washington DC, here is a great place to get some information about the cherry blossom trees there.

 

Older Entries