International visitors are required to be accompanied by a local guide for the duration of their stay in Japan.

If you've always wanted to visit Tokyo or Kyoto as a tourist, you can only do it on a guided tour. It's for the time being.

Japan's entry rules

On Friday, June 10, Japan opened its borders to foreign tourists from most nations, but only for those who will be accompanied by local guides, according to the tourism board. After two years of strict border restrictions, tourists must wear masks and adhere to other COVID-19 measures.

At each stage of the tour, tour guides should remind tour participants of the need to wear and remove masks. In situations where people are conversing in close proximity, masks should be worn.

There is a daily limit on the number of tourists that can come into the country, about 20,000 per day, and all visitors are required to take out insurance to cover medical costs should they get sick. They will need to take a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure and install the MySOS app to register their test results.

Everyone needs a visa, regardless of where they are coming from, according to the Foreign Ministry.

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Young couple leaving restaurant in Tokyo
Tourism in Japan has been restricted to domestic tourism during the pandemic © Getty Images

How tourists can apply for a visa to visit Japan

The travel agency they booked their tour with can give visitors a certificate for registration to the ERFS. Once that is processed, they will receive a document that they can take to their local Japanese embassy or consulate to get a visa, or apply directly with the tourism agency. After the documents are received and accepted, the turn around time is usually five days.

Japan's COVID-19 vaccination requirements

The countries are categorized into blue, yellow or red. Travelers from blue countries don't have to show proof of vaccinations. The US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Argentina, Mexico, and more are all blue. You can view the full list here.

Travelers from red and yellow countries are required to take a test upon arrival.

When can tourists travel to Japan?

It will take some time before foreign visitors can come to Japan for independent tourism like they were allowed before the swine flu epidemic.

The tourism board has no idea when independent tourism may resume, according to a spokesman.

The article was first published about a year ago.