Travel Alerts and Disaster Updates (Coronavirus Outbreak)

Coronavirus Outbreak

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)

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New ANA air pass with unlimited Japanese house rentals, multiple flights now taking applications

An amazingly affordable way to see Japan and live like a local.

Back in the fall, All Nippon Airways (a.k.a. ANA) got our wanderlust pumping when they announced a partnership with Japanese accommodation provider Address. Address offers members unlimited nights in its properties, which are refurbished homes across Japan, for a flat monthly fee, and its tie-up with ANA adds two sets of extremely affordable round-trip airplane tickets every month.

As of January 17, ANA and Address have begun accepting sign-up applications for the program, which launches on January 31. The ANA air add-on is a 30,000 yen addition to Address’ usual 40,000-a-month membership fee, meaning that for just 70,000 yen (US$640) you’ve got somewhere to stay for a whole month in Japan, plus the transportation means to check out at least three different parts of the country.

The round-trip air ticket can be used on designated flights on nine domestic routes flown by ANA, which connect Tokyo’s Haneda Airport with Shin Chitose (Sapporo), Tottori, Takamatsu (Kagawa), Fukuoka, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima airports. That variety makes trips to all four of Japan’s main islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu) viable options, and is especially nice since some of the regions serviced by those airports cam be particularly inconvenient to reach by train.

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New Japanese passport to have ukiyoe art

Japan will start issuing passports featuring art by ukiyoe master Katsushika Hokusai for people applying as early as February.

The new passport has 24 landscapes from the “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” series from the 19th century. The prints serve as background for the visa pages used for entry and exit stamps. The design of the front page remains the same.

The Foreign Ministry decided to redesign the passport four years ago. It wanted to incorporate the latest anti-forgery techniques as the country prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ministry says the complicated design will not only strengthen counterfeit-prevention measures but also help to introduce Japanese culture.

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Japan is about to start testing its fastest ever bullet train, which can reach speeds of up to 400kph.
The Alfa-X train will be put into service in 2030, with plans to run it at 360kph. This will make it faster than China’s Fuxing Hao service linking Beijing and Shanghai in four hours and 18 minutes.
Alfa-X’s first test journey will take place on Friday 17 May, running overnight between Aomori and Sendai. It’s the first of several trial runs that will be conducted over the next three years.
The plan is to use the super-fast shinkansen to create a high-speed connection to Sapporo, the biggest city on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, from the main island of Honshu.
“The development of the next-generation shinkansen is based on the key concepts of superior performance, a high level of comfort, a superior operating environment and innovative maintenance,” East Japan Railway Co said in a statement.

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Japan Has WORLD’S Most Powerful Passport

Japan has the most powerful passport in the world, according to a new index.
The country has scored the number one position in the ranking for the third year in a row.
Compiled by residence and citizenship planning company Henley & Partners, the Henley Passport Index ranks all the world’s passports based on data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata) and the firm’s research department.
The Index put Japan at the top of the list thanks to the impressive number of countries it offers access to visa-free or where it’s possible to get a visa on arrival: 191.
Singapore kept its place at number two, with a score of 190, while South Korea dropped to join Germany in third place with 189.

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