Coronavirus Update – 1 April 2020

2019-nCoV-CDC-23312_without_backgroundJapan has enacted additional border-strengthening measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. As this is a major development, I will summarize it in a new post as best as I can.

Going forward, I will be flagging any old posts related to coronavirus-related travel updates in an effort to avoid any confusion.

All of the latest updates can be found on the website of the Japan National Tourism Organization. They have a dedicated web page with regard to the travel restrictions.

The new measures go into effect as of midnight Japan time on Friday, April 3, 2020.

  1. Foreign nationals who have been in one of over 70 countries or regions in the last 14 days will be denied entry into Japan, except in extraordinary circumstances. Some of the affected locations include Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States and most of Europe. The JNTO link has the complete list.
  2. Visa arrangements from certain countries and regions (including visa exemptions, i.e. for tourism) will be suspended. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States are some of the affected countries that will be subject to the visa cancellation. The JNTO link has the complete list.
  3. All arrivals from locations included in the entry ban, including Japanese nationals and foreigners allowed to enter Japan because of extraordinary circumstances, are subject to on-the-spot coronavirus testing and will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
  4. All arrivals from locations not included in the entry ban will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.

Essentially, everyone that is not banned from entering Japan will be asked to quarantine. Those requested to quarantine will also be asked to refrain from using public transportation during the quarantine period.

Today is my birthday… yes, I’m an April Fools baby. But, the current crisis in our world is no joke. Let’s all do our best to stay safe, and let’s give thanks to all of the first responders and essential members of the workforce that are putting everything on the line during these difficult times.

My advice: Do not travel to Japan unless you have an essential reason to do so. Japan will still be around for you to discover and enjoy once the worst of this pandemic has passed.

The coronavirus illustration is public domain pursuant to Title 17, Section 105 of the United States Code.

Coronavirus Update – 18 March 2020

New information about coronavirus-related travel restrictions has been posted since this was written. Please reload the home page of the blog for the latest update.

Since I wrote the last Coronavirus Update at the end of February, I – and I’m sure most of you – had no idea the severity of the pandemic would reach where it is today. I want to take a moment to update you on the current issues regarding travel to Japan.

Should you travel to Japan right now? The number of new cases have slowed in Japan in recent days, and there are few travel advisories to Japan because the country has taken very aggressive steps to contain the outbreak. Nevertheless, other countries and regions may have their own views – not only on Japan, but on global travel in general. Some, like the United States, are suggesting that all travelers reconsider leaving their home country. Others, like Australia, simply say to do not travel.

My opinion at this point is to reconsider any non-essential travel. In other words, if traveling as a tourist, wait until the worst of this has passed before visiting Japan.

The information below is accurate, to the best of my knowledge, at the time of publication (Afternoon of March 18, 2020, Eastern Time) and is subject to the site-wide disclaimer.

Japan has instituted (or will be implementing) strict border controls barring travel into Japan from certain parts of the world aside from exceptional circumstances.

The Japan National Tourist Organization’s page on the coronavirus has an up-to-date list on the regions in the world from which entry is restricted. As of the time of writing, this includes portions of China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland, and for all of Iceland and San Marino. Also, anyone holding a Chinese passport from Hubei and Zhejiang are included in the restrictions.

In addition, those arriving from certain parts of the world are being asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days and avoid using public transportation. As of the time of this writing, this includes all arrivals from China, Macau, Hong Kong and South Korea. As of March 21, 2020, the self-quarantine requests will expand to include most of Europe. This includes all arrivals from the Schengen Area countries and regions, plus Ireland and the United Kingdom. All arrivals from Egypt and Iran will also be asked to self-quarantine. Visas issued by Japan for arrivals from these areas have been cancelled as of the effective date of the quarantine, including some with visa exemptions.

Effective March 26, 2020, all arrivals from the United States are requested to self-quarantine. However, per the JNTO, visa arrangements from the United States are not affected.

You may also wish to consider that there are some countries and regions that have issued entry restrictions for those who have visited Japan in the last 14 days, or for any international travel. For example, Taiwan and Malaysia have decided to ban the entry of all foreign nationals in recent days.

The Japanese government continues to request that public gatherings and events be cancelled, postponed or scaled back. This means that many tourists sites in Japan are subject to closure or reduced hours. Group tours and events such as public conventions, religious services and concerts may be subject to cancellation or alteration.

Here are some preventative actions you can take for your health, as suggested by the CDC:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe to disinfect frequently touched objects, such as door handles.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, and signs of a lower respiratory illness such as coughing or shortness of breath. However, some cases of coronavirus are reported to have been diagnosed without any symptoms shown at all.

If you show symptoms of coronavirus, inform your health professional right away. Consider visiting your doctor or an urgent care facility, or a tele-health visit. Only go to a hospital if directed to do so.

Allow increased travel time when traveling internationally, in order to allow for more stringent health checks. If you land in Japan and do not feel well, report yourself to Quarantine or Health Consultation immediately (this is the first step of arrival procedures into the country, before immigration checks).

Whatever you do, please stay informed, travel safely, and do not take unnecessary risks that may compromise your health.

In addition to the JNTO, i recommend viewing the news updates from public broadcaster NHK. Here’s a link to their page dedicated to coronavirus news. I’ll provide another update as conditions warrant.

Coronavirus Update for Japan

2019-nCoV-CDC-23312_without_background

New information about coronavirus-related travel restrictions has been posted since this was written. Please reload the home page of the blog for the latest update.

I am deeply concerned (as I’m sure some of my followers are) about the coronavirus outbreak that has been spreading across many parts of the world now. I thought it would be useful to share a few updates with you when it comes to the current situation of travel in Japan.

I don’t plan to post any updates too often on this, so I would highly suggest online news sources for the latest information. One I highly recommend is NHK World-Japan, whose English web site has a dedicated page with all of the latest news updates on the coronavirus as it affects Japan and other parts of the world.

The information is accurate, to the best of my knowledge, at the time of publication (Morning of February 27, 2020, Eastern Time) and is subject to the site-wide disclaimer.

  • There are no urgent travel advisories or warnings from major countries when it comes to visiting Japan. However, some countries and regions in Asia and the Pacific are banning entries from foreigners who have visited Japan in the last two weeks.
  • Many of the world’s major countries and territories have advised an increased level of caution when traveling around Japan due to the outbreak. Some organizations, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC (the national public health body of the United States), have recommended that the elderly, and those with pre-existing/chronic medical conditions, defer nonessential travel to Japan.
  • This week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that all elementary schools and high schools in Japan close for the month of March, and that public gatherings and events be cancelled, postponed or scaled back over the next few weeks in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak. This means that many tourists sites in Japan are subject to closure or reduced hours. Group tours and events such as public conventions, religious services and concerts may be subject to cancellation or alteration.
  • Some major sports have already begun to either postpone their events, or close events to the general public. The Sumo Association is supposed to decide by March 1 whether or not to go ahead with the March Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

Here are some preventative actions you can take for your health, as suggested by the CDC:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe to disinfect frequently touched objects, such as door handles.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, and signs of a lower respiratory illness such as coughing or shortness of breath. However, some cases of coronavirus are reported to have been diagnosed without any symptoms shown at all.

If you have been in Japan (or another area affected by the outbreak) in the last 14 days and show symptoms of coronavirus, inform your health professional right away. Consider visiting your doctor or an urgent care facility, and only go to a hospital if directed to do so.

Allow increased travel time when traveling internationally to and from Japan, in order to allow for more stringent health checks. If you land in Japan and do not feel well, report yourself to Quarantine or Health Consultation immediately (this is the first step of arrival procedures into the country, before immigration checks).

I’ll update this post only if there are updates in the very near term, otherwise please consult NHK World or your local media service for the latest updates.

The coronavirus illustration was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It is therefore public domain pursuant to Title 17, Section 105 of the United States Code.

Another Quick Update!

Hi everyone! I’m still around, and wanted to post a quick update.

I can’t believe that it’s already been a year (almost 13 months actually) since what was certainly my best trip to Japan to date. I have no plans to return to Japan in the immediate future for a few reasons, particularly because my US Passport will be up for renewal very soon…. but I will go back one day! I will not stop enjoying the wonderful land of the rising sun, its culture, and its people.

Time permitting, I hope to continue with more posts soon. I still wish to continue with my Welcome to Japan series that I had recently started with my blog post on Narita Airport.

If you have any questions about Japan travel, I am more than willing to help out… just drop me a line.

Thanks again for supporting this page, and for following my blog and my travels!

Thanks for visiting!

It’s been a while… again… since I posted anything here, so I just wanted to say hello again and thank everyone for their support of this page. I’ve also finished a backlog of questions to be answered from the last few weeks. A lot of foreigners are visiting a wonderful country these days – maybe because there are fewer worries there than the rest of the world.

I would like to share with everyone the possibility that I will make a return trip to Japan next year, either in the spring or in December, providing I have enough resources and my journey through life doesn’t take a detour.

This would be my fourth trip to Japan – having gone in 2004, 2008 and 2013, I think the time has come for another experience. This time I will want to try and travel from Tokyo to Kyoto by local trains, in order to experience a Japan that I’ve always whizzed through while looking out the window of a bullet train.

Of course this is all speculation and nothing is set in stone yet. I’ll be sure to keep you all informed as to what I will do! I also invite you to visit my Facebook page for more updates as well.

Please keep sending your questions… except about Immigration. I would like to reiterate my stance, as outlined in the disclaimer, that I do not wish to answer immigration questions. During these last few weeks I have received questions that are immigration-related. Please note that such questions will be ignored. Thanks for your understanding!

Watch the Japanology Plus show on NHK World

For those of you who have the NHK World channel I highly recommend this week’s Japanology Plus show, hosted by Peter Barakan, about the building of the Seikan Tunnel. If you don’t have NHK World you can watch it online… There are only a few more chances to watch it today (Feb. 5).

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/tv/japanologyplus/

The Seikan Tunnel links northern Honshu with the island of Hokkaido. Train services began in 1988; bullet trains will start running through the tunnel next year.