The outbreak of the coronavirus is having a big impact on travel activities in Japan in the form of travel restrictions, closures and event cancellations.
Current state of tourism: do not travel in and out of Greater Tokyo and Hokkaido
Domestic Travel Restrictions
Although the virus has not spread in Japan at an explosive rate as seen in Europe and North America, the central government declared a state of emergency on April 7, requesting people to stay home and certain businesses to close. After a decrease in new infections, the state of emergency was fully lifted on May 25.
Even after the end of the state of emergency, people in the entire country are requested to exercise social distancing and refrain from visiting crowded and badly ventilated places. In some prefectures, certain types of businesses and establishments are requested to remain closed or shorten their business hours.
People are also asked to refrain from non-essential travel in and out of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Hokkaido, the five prefectures that saw the highest infection numbers, through June 18. Restrictions on inter-prefectural travel in the rest of the country were lifted on June 1. The remaining restrictions on domestic travel are scheduled to be lifted from June 19, and a campaign to promote domestic tourism is slated to start in late July.
Inside the cities, public transportation has not been greatly affected; however, airlines and long-distance bus companies have considerably cut their services, and seasonal and tourist trains have been suspended, although services are now being increased again. Intercity trains have mostly resumed their regular timetables after a reduction of services in May and early June.
International Travel Restrictions
Japan is currently refusing entry to non-Japanese people who have been to any of over 100 designated countries across the world within the past 14 days, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, China and most European countries (including the UK), except under special circumstances.
Japan is also temporarily suspending visa exemptions for the time being, making it necessary for all visitors to apply for a visa before traveling to Japan.
Furthermore, all people entering Japan, including Japanese nationals, will have to undergo a quarantine at a designated location and may not use public transportation for 14 days upon arrival.
Likewise, there are many countries that refuse entry to people arriving from Japan or require travelers arriving from Japan to undergo a quarantine.
The above measures by the Japanese government are expected to be maintained through June, but afterwards a gradual reopening of Japan’s borders is being considered, starting towards countries where the coronavirus has been contained or which have particularly important ties to Japan (Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand are some first candidates). Business travelers and experts are expected to be given priority, followed by students and eventually tourists.
Closures and cancellations
A large number of tourist attractions are cautiously reopening these days, while others remain closed. Most events and festivals have been cancelled or postponed. Below is a list of major tourist attractions and their state of business in some of the more popular destinations in our sightseeing guide:
● Sensoji Temple (closed indefinitely)
● Tokyo Tower (reopened 5/28)
● Tokyo Government Building observation decks (closed indefinitely)
● Toyosu Market (reopened 6/8)
● Kyu Shiba Rikyu (reopened 6/1)
● Tokyo Disneyland (closed indefinitely)
● Tokyo DisneySea (closed indefinitely)
● Guided tours of the Imperial Palace (reopened 6/2)
● Imperial East Gardens (reopened 6/2)
● Hama Rikyu (reopened 6/1)
● Rikugien (reopened 6/1)
● Edo Open Air Museum (reopened 6/2)
● Shinjuku Gyoen (reopened 6/2)
● Koishikawa Korakuen (reopened 6/1)
● Koishikawa Botanical Garden (closed indefinitely)
● Kiyosumi Garden (reopened 6/1)
● Ghibli Museum (closed indefinitely)
● Institute for Nature Study (reopened 6/1)
● Sumida Hokusai Museum (reopened 6/2)
● Tokyo National Museum (reopened 6/2)
● Tokyo Skytree (reopened 6/1)
● Sumida Aquarium (reopened 6/15)
● Most events of the 2020 Sanno Matsuri (cancelled)
● Edo-Tokyo Museum (reopened 6/2)