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Japan to resume accepting guided foreign tour groups from June 10

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No more tour groups! No more travel bans! No more State of Emergencies! No more booster rollouts! No more masks!

End the error NOW

16 ( +26 / -10 )

The hypocrisy is palpable but I suppose Japanese politic has always been about hypocrisy

Can't wait for the July election so they can cease with this farcical initiative and open the borders for real!

10 ( +23 / -13 )

Why is it that China is on the list of the lowest risk countries with Shanghai locked down?

25 ( +27 / -2 )

Sanji …. Have you booked your flight yet ?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Why is it that China is on the list of the lowest risk countries with Shanghai locked down?

Probably because Shanghai is locked down

11 ( +14 / -3 )

whatever....

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

I have the benefit of having lived here for 11 years …. My wife and children are all bilingual…. So they are my full time translators …. My guides …. That said , is there a foreign wannabe tourist on the planet earth with zero Japanese language skills , and zero connections here in Japan that would or could tour Japan on anything but a guided tour? People need to stop whining about Japan slowly returning to what is normal for most foreign tourism…. Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ? All this whining is about the whiners and not the reality of the situation.

-39 ( +6 / -45 )

I don't think any other country has the amusing 'tour group' restrictions, which is a deal breaker for most Westerners booking JP for 2022 and maybe 2023. It might suit some older travellers, but they are more nervous about Covid and won't be travelling much for a bit. I doubt they will need to worry about raising their capacity, or even getting close to it. Presumably this rules out 'torist' trips for the family and friends of foreign residents of Japan, as they would only be able to wave to them from a distance on the tour. I wonder if they will put the tourists in separate train carriages? As far as I can tell, SK is opening up in June without 'tour group' restrictions. Just mask use, jabs and paperwork like many other countries. Outside Japan, the main variance is requiring a jab or not.

The Russian air route block will put off some Europeans. It will be interesting to see how everyone deals with jab requirements in the Autumn if the West are only dishing boosters out to the elderly. Will it be possible to get them as travel jabs, or will it effectively block travel. None of this seems to be particularly well co-ordinated and there is no transparency or road map. Businesses have to plan these things, hiring staff etc - something politicians do not appear to understand. We had the same problem with Brexit posturing in the UK. Rafts of changes that nobody knew about until the last minute. Maybe politicians could do a course to prepare them for running things.

7 ( +18 / -11 )

Typo - should be 'tourist' on line 4.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The government will initially limit eligible tourism arrivals to guided tours as a means to reduce the potential spread of infections, and will authorize two more airports in addition to five already approved to accept international flights.

I knew it! Hence, the group of "tourists" taken a couple of days ago, rather than genuine tourists. Go figure.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

It will be interesting to see how everyone deals with jab requirements in the Autumn if the West are only dishing boosters out to the elderly. Will it be possible to get them as travel jabs, or will it effectively block travel.

Japan is removing its vaccine requirements for int'l arrivals starting June 1st.

However, it seems like they will still require these upcoming group tourists from abroad to be triple vaxed. The details on the groups are not fully explained yet.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ?

I've done it in multiple countries where I couldn't speak a word of the language. It's not actually that hard. I didn't speak any Japanese when I got here either, and there weren't even mobile phones then.

24 ( +28 / -4 )

Hold your horses! Those seven Japanese expats haven't even finished their test tour yet. It's almost as if it was just for show.

10 ( +22 / -12 )

Tours will only be accepted from the "blue" list of 98 countries and regions presenting the lowest risk of infections, which includes the United States, China, Australia and South Korea.

Would really love to know how they decided it's these countries that present the "lowest risk". Little of the government's decisions have been based on anything scientific or fact-based, and this doesn't look like an exception.

The "guided tours" is another one. I mean, tourists will have undergone several PCR tests and, at least in the past, non-Japanese travellers were subject to strict quarantine while Japanese who tested positive occasionally went bar-hopping straight off the plane. But somehow, it's still those foreigners who pose a threat. Again, not surprising at all though.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

So tourists, Japanese and foreign residents coming (back) to Japan will be in the same airplane, coming from the same ‘blue’ place, with the same vaccination and negative pcr tests, into a country where the virus is endemic, but the tourists need to have different rules because…?

13 ( +19 / -6 )

I mean these days anyone with a mobile phone can translate in real time basically having a discussion in any language they choose. It's not rocket science for most.

I'll be coming to visit family for Christmas and New year's so doubt there'll be any restrictions by then...

9 ( +10 / -1 )

still missing crucial informations.

tourists need be vaccinated?

does they need any kind of covid passes?

will they will need some tests?

why these informations are missing here?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is the third time since last Thursday this story has been rehashed with no new relevant information. There those of us who are waiting on the monument of full entry and JT just throwing out this click bait.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

That said , is there a foreign wannabe tourist on the planet earth with zero Japanese language skills , and zero connections here in Japan that would or could tour Japan on anything but a guided tour?

I do not speak Japanese but I can read Kanji. I have been to Japan 8 times in the past 10 years. And not once in any guided tour. The thing is in major cities and tourism spots there are signs in Chinese, English, Korean and even people with foreign language skills to help tourist. Also if you have mobile internet access it really helps during the trip. More and more Japanese can speak simple English good enough to communicate with tourist.

However, I generally stick with big cities. I do believe if you wanna go outside of them then it is better to join a guided tour.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

And they will all be GUIDED to various stores and shops that paid the highest bribe.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

The government will initially limit eligible tourism arrivals to guided tours as a means to reduce the potential spread of infections,

Potential spread of infections ?..Ridiculous in light of the daily infection numbers in Japan and the fact that hundreds of Japanese passport holders can just roll out of the same planes as these " experimental tourists" and waltz right back into their daily routine. Guess the "unique Japanese mindo " does really protect them against becoming infected as the great sage Taro Aso wisely said.

-1 ( +13 / -14 )

These forced tour groups are making Japan look more like NK than one of the G6 (excluding Japan) countries which Kishida wants to emulate.

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

what an embarrassment. Either open up or close the border for good. But don’t be surprised when other nations start pulling investments from Japan.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

is there a foreign wannabe tourist on the planet earth with zero Japanese language skills , and zero connections here in Japan that would or could tour Japan on anything but a guided tour? People need to stop whining about Japan slowly returning to what is normal for most foreign tourism…. Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ? All this whining is about the whiners and not the reality of the situation.

Laughable.

Most people do NOT need their hands held when visiting Japan. I've had countless friends and family visit with zero Japanese and had almost no problems making their way around. They certainly did not need a tour guide as you suggest.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

That said , is there a foreign wannabe tourist on the planet earth with zero Japanese language skills , and zero connections here in Japan that would or could tour Japan on anything but a guided tour? 

They number in the millions. Check out the tripadvisor Enlgish forums some time

My first time in Japan, I knew zero Japanese. No problems were encountered.

I would never go on a guided tour.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Guess the "unique Japanese mindo " does really protect them against becoming infected as the great sage Taro Aso wisely said.

Unfortunately, Taro Aso just said the quiet part out loud. As someone pointed out under a different article, this "cautious" attitude to letting in tourists is a good way to appease the LDP voting base who, while often won't say it as blatantly as the former PM, will think something along those lines.

Throughout the pandemic, I've had people tell me that "Japan has fewer cases because Japanese people have a different level of hygiene" by people, without them realising how outrageous and, well, racist their statement is.

3 ( +16 / -13 )

@ Steven McCarthy

Of course tourists can navigate their way around Japan. If they are going to major centres there are sufficient signs in English. Anyway, that is one of the challenges and joys of negotiating travel to a foreign country- not everyone wants to be herded like a flock of sheep.

On the subject of whining, does your spouse complain that you have lived in Japan for 11 years without having the smarts to learn the language?

13 ( +17 / -4 )

I experienced the hermit lifestyle having been abroad and feeling the need to protect elderly relatives but on coming back to Japan, on a night out (COVID is lurking more purposefully at night) was infected.

And in my case, it wasn’t really anything than a head cold and a runny nose.

There’s no need to worry PM Kishida; the Corona virus is all over Japan!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

YATTA!! Its happeningu!! Nihon is opening!! Its Weebtastic!! #Weebuanimu

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

Gotta love Japan. Why make it easy, when it can be made overly complicated?

And only small amounts of information is being released as they are making it up as they go along. As a hotelier dependant on in-bound tourism, it frustrating and bloody confusing for everyone!

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

What bloody hypocrites. Either open up properly or don't. Guided tours are highly uncommon these days; nobody wants to follow an itinerary and be shepherded around when on holiday unless you're on a unique trip to North Korea or Chernobyl etc. If other countries banded together to refuse entry to Japanese passport holders for work, study, holiday etc., I bet that would get the Japanese government to change their tune fast.

-1 ( +13 / -14 )

Get back to when you can arrive in Japan regardless of vaxx status, zero quarantine, and you didn't need to take a stupid test 72 hours before your flight. Until then this all an irritating farce.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I personally know one of the test group of travelers that went to Japan earlier this week from Hawaii and Los Angeles. He is our tour leader and owner of a Hawaii tour company. I've been to Japan three times since 2015 with him and my 'Tomodachi' travel group; we were supposed to go to Kyushu in Oct 2020 but that was cancelled due to covid. He is in Japan to see if it's possible to restart his tour business. And I am anxious to see Japan again. I am fully vaccinated and boosted but still a little hesitant to travel. I love Japan and want to go back soon.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

= a foreign wannabe tourist on the planet earth with zero Japanese language skills , and zero connections here in Japan that would or could tour Japan on anything but a guided tour? People need to stop whining about Japan slowly returning to what is normal for most foreign tourism…. Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ? All this whining is about the whiners and not the reality of the situation.

On one of my trips, I decided to spend a night at Koya-san, and the other Westerner staying at the same temple was a young man who had arrived in Japan three days before knowing no Japanese. I was impressed, but he simply said that he studied guidebooks ahead of time and followed the English signs.

Now some people ARE timid travelers. When I went to South Korea for the first time, speaking maybe ten words of Korean, a friend asked if I wasn't scared. No, barring an invasion from the North, South Korea is not a scary place, and I managed just fine. Even in a crisis--an ATM spitting out only a transaction record that indicated a deduction from my account but no money--my ten words of Korean and a lot of gestures were enough to prompt the bank receptionist to send for a proficient English speaker.

Granted, I know some people who would be scared to go to Japan...or any place outside their own county, but there are more adventurous travelers than you might think.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Don't bother

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

All the while, the Japanese can come and go as they like.

1 ( +11 / -10 )

Steven Mccarthy

my husband and I had never been to Japan before 2017. We went on our own, no tour groups, had a blast and easily got around with little more than "sumimasen" and "arigatou". So yes, the average tourist is just fine on our own. We're not children on a school field trip.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Tour groups are common everywhere lol.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Like when I went to the Philippines, I originally planned to go to India, then discovered I needed to apply for a Tourist Visa?! I just went somewhere else (PI).

If you don't change this, people will simply not come to Japan and go somewhere else.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

If you don't change this, people will simply not come to Japan and go somewhere else.

Maybe some people. But the fact is, so many people want to travel to Japan, that when it opens up, there will be floods of tourists.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I do speak conversational Japanese but not medical or legal. Lived here for what feels like 375 years. And I pretty much refuse to engage the locals, not because I hate them I have just found it repetitive. So my skills at pretending I understand little allow me to move around and shop, don’t need someone with a small flag yelling at me about the view, “ I can see the view”. Japan is an eye opener to a pretty closed society that alone makes it mysterious for new visitors.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ? 

Yes...millions of them did it every year. Do you think most people can't deal with reading a guidebook and then reading the English signs?

Japan is not Mars.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think it is not nice to travel in group like dangerous people , better allowed some countries little by little with with 3 vaccines , test before and after arrive and few days after , stay no more than 2 weeks , I wont see my son in Japan , when I can go free where I wont ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In contrast to other countries you are even helped more, the lesser Japanese language you are capable of. So knowledge at medium level is often the biggest disadvantage, because you still don’t understand much, but the natives think you’re already fine on your own.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Steve take a breath, have you ever watched the TV show, “why did you come to Japan?”I think unguided foreigners are fine, adds to the experience. Not sure of your point it’s not clear. A rant which has no definite point? Clarity does help?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japanese is easy to learn, it was Cantonese that I struggled with for a while when I first started living in Hong Kong. But I got there in the end with daily practice and conversing with everybody as much as possible. Learning Japanese when I started living in Japan seemed much much easier in comparison.

But tourists will be fine with no Japanese ability at all. Scrap all rules today. Let them come and snap up all the bargains available with weak Yen. Everybody's a winner.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Do y’all really think the average tourist could navigate the airports, the subways, trains …. Even a taxi ?

It is said that there is a secret society of lost tourists in Japan...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The government will initially limit eligible tourism arrivals to guided tours as a means to reduce the potential spread of infections, 

Keep the tourists in close proximity with each other and the guise for prolonged periods. Niiiice.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

By running the tours, the ministry aims to improve precautions against COVID-19 and confirm procedures to follow in the event visitors test positive for the coronavirus.

Or make more money. Either let people in or don't, the idea that there are people allowed in the country but what they do is controlled, monitored in any way makes me feel like I'm in North Korea.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@SteveMcCarthy

Holy crap man now you have to worry about monkeypox in addition to Covid. Damn

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What difference will there be whether the tourists are escorted or not? We aren't the cause of Japan's pandemic...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

have you ever watched the TV show, “why did you come to Japan?”

Unfortunately, the episodes that I've seen largely reinforced the stereotype that non-Japanese are eternally lost and amazed in Japan's wonderland. Add that to the fact that a lot of Japanese people don't mind being shepherded around and many, young and old, have been abroad only on organized tours, and it will become very difficult to communicate why this arrangement is so bizarre, to say the least.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Potentially good news! Do we still need to do a test prior to returning to Japan though? I could not find any info on that. At present there is still a mandatory PCR test 72 hours prior to coming to Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I work in tourism and want the border to open to independent travellers as much as anyone but

Guided tours are highly uncommon these days; 

is actually incorrect. Pre-Covid, the majority of tourists to Japan were Asian, i.e., Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Malaysian, Singaporean etc. Many of them are on budget package trips where they are guided around. In 2019, around 75% of tourists to Japan came from Asian countries. The problem is that lots of these people are short-stay low-value tourists who are nickel and dimed by corporate players. Independent travellers not on tours spend more money and spend it more widely. Their economic effect is much greater.

https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/

2 ( +2 / -0 )

enough with the excuses - anyone who can speak and read English should have no problem navigating in Japan!

as for Asians who don’t know English, my wife says the pharmacy stores always have someone who speaks mandarin that help Chinese tourists…

cut the crap and let the tourist roam around as they wish!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

More Japanese expats again for photo ops? As Kishida said, "Can't scare the natives with obvious foreign looking people." This whole gov't is made up prats, prats one and all.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Japan is an eye opener to a pretty closed society that alone makes it mysterious for new visitors.

It's really not very closed if you speak Japanese. I know this from first-hand experience.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

a LARGE number of tourists that considered Japan because of the hype now lost all their interest, maybe forever.

I'm outside Japan right know, and I can tell you that the above quote is entirely wrong. Nearly every person I talk to about living in Japan says they would love to visit. It's very consistent.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In February of that year, the number of foreign visitors plunged 58.3 percent from a year earlier, further sliding to a record 99.9 percent drop from April onward.

Loving it here.

StrangerlandMay 27  11:38 pm JST

I'm outside Japan right know, and I can tell you that the above quote is entirely wrong. Nearly every person I talk to about living in Japan says they would love to visit. It's very consistent.

Oh, well, that is all the evidence we need then.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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