It’s been over two years since we were in Japan, a long wait for them to reopen after COVID restrictions shut the country down to tourism. We entered after the Oct 11th change to the requirements. We will go over the procedure of how we entered back into the country after so long away. These requirements are current as of late Oct 2022, they may change of course if the Japanese Gov’t decides to change them, please consult official Gov’t pages (links below) for the latest info!
Booking Airlines and Hotels
We initially started our bookings before the change, as we were willing to go thru the hassles of verification to visit. We got luckily that the reduced the requirements before we visited! If you are from the United States, or most of the countries that previously allowed visa free travel (or visa on arrival to be particular), you can now enter Japan with only vaccine proof, no negative test or other items needed. From America you needed two primary shots and a booster (we both had the second booster as well). You can book flights and hotels just as pre-pandemic, although note that expedia sites (like hotels.com) had limited inventory, direct booking seemed to work better for us. The flights all have an obscene fees for fuel, but I guess they are trying to make back lost revenue.
MySOS App, required! or at least strongly recommended
The MySOS App is a Japanese gov’t app that they have used for most of the pandemic. Now it is used to verify your passport and Vax cert. Is it required? I’m not entirely sure, but upon landing people without it were herded into another area that looked like it took a while. I’m guessing they can manually verify your documents there.
Registering with the MySOS app was somewhat straightforward, but not instant, you have to take photos of your passport (and wait for it to be verified, took about 1 hour) and the Vax card (took about 15 minutes). All of this you can do at your leisure long before you head to the airport (we did ours about 3 weeks before). After verifying you will have a “Blue” mySOS screen, and that’s what you want! You will walk by that coral of sad people that didn’t have theirs.
Arrival at Kansai International Airport (KIX) step by step
After landing at KIX, we deplaned in a normal fashion. Then we started walking down a long walkway above the gates (the normal walkway to passport control & customs). Down the line we walked back down stairs to some empty gates. There were several pleasant people with signboards asking to show your MySOS App screen, if you were blue or green, you were pointed towards the next area, if you were red or didn’t have it you went to another holding area where it looked like they were verifying medical details. As we both had blue screens I’m not sure entirely what happens there, I assume with no Vax you are required to quarantine like the old days.
The next step was a health check area. They had about 30 desks set up and someone directed you to the next free desk. They took our temperature, and scanned the QR code from the MySOS App. This step took about 2 minutes, we were then given a “health card” which was just an A4 sheet of paper with instructions on what to do if you feel sick.
We then went back up a different set of stairs and continued on our way towards passport control and customs. Before we got there, there was another set of “health desks” that verified we had a health card. This took 5 seconds, they literally just looked that we had the a4 sheet from before, I guess to catch people trying to sneak around? Maybe it did more before the rules changed? We don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this step goes away.
After this we were in the old style passport control line, just like pre-covid. We got our tourist entry stickers and went thru customs and were out in Japan! On the whole I don’t think this took any more time than pre-COVID, as after the health checks the passport control line was still like 15 minutes from the previous flight.
It’s almost as easy to visit Japan today as precovid, assuming you have your 3 shots. Please come and give some tourist dollars to the hurting tourism economy!
MySOS app on iphone: MySOS
Current Japanese entry requirements, including which countries need real visa: MOFA Japan