Now is the time to book a tour to Japan! Japan is opening back up again to Fully Escorted Tours from June 10, 2022, so people once more have the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the Land of the Rising Sun. Under Japan’s new travel guidelines, Japan is specifically open to fully escorted tours with a prearranged itinerary that is organized by an official Japan Land Tour Operator, such as All Japan Tours. In our latest blog we explain the current travel procedures for safe entry into Japan, as well as the best travel options through AJT for your next Japan trip.
Before we begin, it is important to know that Japan’s current tourism policies are likely to undergo many changes in the near future. We will be doing our best to keep up to date with the most recent Japan entry guidelines, but for the most current entry procedures, you can also contact your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate. The current entry procedures are as follows:
Japan has divided countries into three groups, based on that country’s response to COVID and the perceived risk of infected travelers coming to Japan. Many countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, and Australia, are part of the Blue Group, which is the group that may enter Japan as part of a fully escorted tour.
As we mentioned earlier, travel to Japan is currently limited to passengers traveling as part of a fully escorted tour from a Japan Land Tour Operator that is based and registered in Japan (like AJT). This safety measure allows the Japanese government to be sure that visitors to their country are provided for, helps local officials stay abreast of possible new COVID infections, and allows them to respond rapidly to any emergencies.
After you book a tour, your All Japan Tours will communicate with Japan’s New ERFS (Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System), to confirm that you are, in fact, going on a Fully Escorted Tour with a local Tour Conductor. We will receive a certificate for each passenger that will allow you to apply for a tourist visa. This process is a smooth one, and ERFS certificates are usually issued to passengers within 1-2 business days.
Every tourist to Japan now needs to obtain a tourist visa in order to visit the country. While travelers from some countries, including the US, used to be able to visit “visa free”, now every visitor must have a valid visa. You can obtain visas from your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate.
For your convenience, we include a copy below of the visa application procedures for the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles, CA, which is our AJT’s Consulate. However, different Consulates may have different procedures, so we recommend you check with your local Japanese Consulate or Embassy and follow their visa application process.
How to Apply for a Visa with the Los Angeles Consulate of Japan:
The Consulate of Japan in Los Angeles does not (at present) accept in-person appointments. They are only accepting applications by mail, or by drop off between the hours of 9:30 – 11:30 am and 1:15 pm – 3:15 pm on weekdays only (no holidays or weekends). They require submission of the following documents, sent via either FedEx or USPS:
a) A Valid Passport (the original passport, with at least one blank visa page)
b) Completed Visa Application Form. (found on the Consulate website)
c) One Passport-size Photograph (attached, not stapled, to the application form)
d) Proof of Current Address (A Copy of a valid Drivers License or Utility Bill)
e) Pre-Paid Self-Addressed Return Envelope (with Tracking, USPS or FedEx only)
f) ERFS Certificate (Provided to you by the Japan Land Tour Operator)
g) Completed Release of Liability form (found on the Consulate website)
The visa is usually processed and sent out within 5-7 business days. Citizens of the US are exempt from the Visa Fee. Other nationals may have to pay a fee, depending on their nationality, and will be given instructions on how to pay after their visa is approved. The Consulate accepts exact change payments in cash only.
Within 72 hours of your departing flight to Japan, you need to get an official negative COVID test result. Unfortunately, they don’t accept the results of self-tests; it must be an official lab test from your doctor. The Japanese government has provided an Official Testing Certificate to give your doctor to fill out, which list the kinds of tests they accept as valid. Currently, the government of Japan does not require proof of vaccination, only the negative COVID test within 72 hours.
Japan uses the MySOS app to pre-register travelers for airport quarantine and make the process quicker and easier for airport officials. MySOS is a medical assistance application that manages your medical information and location in case of an emergency. Originally, there were a series of mobile apps you had to use while in Japan to keep track of your health condition and location, but it was recently simplified so you only need this one. MySOS has a questionnaire for you to answer, plus you can upload your negative COVID test result and any vaccination information you may have. You will need to completely upload your information at least 6 hours prior to your arrival in Japan. When they finish reviewing your documentation, the MySOS app will show a Blue Screen or Green Screen. A Yellow Screen means that your information is still being processed, or you haven’t registered a test certificate. A Red Screen means that there was some problem, and you should redo the registration. The Screen must be Blue or Green when you pass through Airport Quarantine.
the Visit Japan Web is a way for you to simplify your passage through airport Immigration and Customs. It allows you to better facilitate your way through the customs checkpoint by registering your contact and health information online. After you complete the information, Visit Japan Web will provide you with QR codes to show customs and immigration officials.
Travel insurance is now an absolutely necessary part of international travel. Japan has made it a requirement for all visitors to have travel insurance that covers Health costs, especially those related to potential COVID healthcare and quarantine. Should you become infected with COVID during the tour, you can reimburse your medical expenses through your travel insurance’s coverage.
Additionally, it is the company policy of AJT that your Travel Insurance must include Tour Cancellation and Tour Interruption coverage. If your trip should be cancelled or interrupted due to sudden onset of COVID, your insurance must be able to provide you reimbursement for any unused portion of the tour.
We suggest you obtain a quote from Travel Guard.
You will still have to go through quarantine and customs, but thanks to MySOS app and Visit Japan Web, your trip through these checkpoints is now smoother and easier. Show the MySOS Blue Screen or Green Screen to the Quarantine officials, and show Customs and Immigration officials the QR Codes provided through Visit Japan Web.
Once you have made it through Quarantine and Customs, you will then meet your Tour Conductor.
Your Tour Conductor is your Japanese escort through the country. Often, the Tour Conductor will be a different person than your Tour Guide. They will be with you from the moment you arrive until the moment you depart Japan. They will accompany you everywhere: to every destination, on the trains, in the restaurants, and staying in the same hotels along the way. It is especially important to board any public transit, including bullet trains, with your Tour Conductor. Please be aware that boarding public transport without the Tour Conductor, including transfer between the airport and the hotel, is not permitted.
Your Tour Conductor:
(1) Will have a thorough understanding of Japan’s latest infection prevention measures.
(2) Will facilitate smooth communication in Japanese with medical personnel and local officials / suppliers in the event of an emergency.
(3) Will manage the tour according to the prearranged itinerary, and keep a record of each day’s activities.
The Tour Conductor will also assist with preventative measures such as when to wear Face Masks (which are required almost everywhere). Where possible, the tours will also practice physical distancing, with improved ventilation on tour buses and other areas. Travelers are required to follow the Tour Conductor’s instructions.
The answer is easy: Book a Fully Guided Tour with All Japan Tours! AJT has two different kinds of tours you can choose from if you want to visit Japan, which are in full compliance with Japan’s latest Entry Procedures and Travel Guidelines: Join one of our Group Tours, or arrange a Custom Private Tour! Read below for a short description of these different tours, plus the pros and cons of each one.
Our Group Tours are developed by our professional staff, and planned based around seasonal attractions, including cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and seasonal festivals, with other tours planned around Special Interests, like Anime, Pottery, Gardens, Art, and more. We also have tours that feature less-traveled regions of Japan, like Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu.
1. It’s Cheaper! More passengers on your tour means more people to split the cost!
2. Meet new friends who are as excited about visiting Japan as you are!
3. Our Group Tours cover a wide array of Destinations, Experiences, and Interests, so you could join multiple tours and never see the same place twice!
1. No input on the itinerary destinations and activities. We have already planned out everywhere you go and all the experiences, which may not be a “con”, especially if this is your first trip to Japan.
CUSTOM PRIVATE TOUR
If you are looking for a specially arranged tour to Japan for with your family, friends, school, church, club, or organization, look no further than AJT’s Custom Private Tours! Our experienced travel specialists are here to arrange your personal itinerary, which can include any destination in Japan.
1. You have full control of the itinerary. We help you arrange everywhere you want to go, what you want to do, and where you want to eat!
2. Since these groups are usually comprised of groups of families and friends, so you travel to Japan only with people you know!
1. It’s more expensive. Groups are usually smaller, and less travelers means less people in the group to split the cost. In addition to the hotels, guide, and transit, we arrange for a private Tour Conductor, at additional cost, to meet you at the airport and accompany you throughout your trip (in accordance with Japan’s current Travel requirements). The cost of the Tour Conductor will include their daily fee, plus the cost of their transportation, meals, and accommodation at hotels.
Although the entry procedures to Japan may seem daunting, we are happy to help you navigate them to reach your dream Japan tour. On one of AJT’s Fully Escorted Tours, you can explore the wonders of Japan comfortably and with peace of mind. Browse our tours on our website or reach out to one of our tour specialists today to begin planning your next trip to Japan.