Masks And Health Insurance: New Guidelines For Tourists As Japan Opens Its Doors

Japan Forward

“We have been waiting for more than two years and with so much anticipation for this moment, it feels like it has finally arrived” ー Masaharu Matsuoka.

Arielle Busetto and Shaun Fernando, JAPAN Forward

Foreign tourists visiting Japan will wear masks, purchase private health insurance, and be accompanied throughout their stay, the Japanese government announced on June 7.

It is a sign that Japan is reopening slowly after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Only visitors on package tours are allowed in during the first phase, which begins from June 10, the Japan Tourism Agency said. There is currently a cap of 20,000 people allowed to enter the country per day for all categories of people, such as Japanese nationals, foreign residents, students, and business visitors. From June 10, incoming tourists are included in that figure.

The last time tourists were allowed to enter Japan was in March 2020.

Under the new guidelines, visitors are once again welcome, but with conditions. They must use the services of travel agencies registered in Japan. Those agencies are responsible for processing their visas and guaranteeing their travel, according to a new sixteen-page guideline handbook.

Some Key Points

Masks: The new guidance calls for participants to be frequently reminded of the necessary sanitation precautions, such as wearing masks and removing them only when they are not required throughout the tour.

Masks are deemed unnecessary when locations are not crowded, while bathing in spas, or when participating in outdoor activities. In situations where people converse in close proximity, however, masks should be worn even outdoors.

Medical insurance: Travelers are required to take out medical insurance to cover any costs of treatment or care in the event they contract COVID-19.

In addition, they are to be chaperoned by tour guides throughout their trip. Guides are required to keep an itinerary to track close contacts in …continue reading


Shiba Area Guide – Discover This Relaxing Neighbourhood In Central Tokyo

Shiba Area Guide - Zojoji Temple Gate

Today, we will visit together one of my favorite area in Tokyo: Shiba! Don’t get confused, I’m not talking about Chiba prefecture but Shiba district that is located in central Tokyo!

What I love above anything else here is the relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere. Despite the fact that we are in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, you feel calm and in peace when you hang out in Shiba. This is probably thanks to all the beautiful parks that you can visit here.

With its central location and tranquil vibes, Shiba is a great option for your travel accommodation. And if you live already in Tokyo, go there just to relax and to breath some fresh air while staying in the city.

The 6 Best Things To Do In Shiba

While the best activity to do in Shiba is just to hang out here and there, there are still some places that you shouldn’t miss. Let’s check them out together below.

1. Zojoji Temple

Zojoji temple is the spiritual heart of Shiba and you should definitely check it out at some point. You can’t miss it with its huge red gate (Sangedatsumon) that marks the entrance to the temple.

It’s the head temple of the Buddhist sect “Jodo” and it was originally built in 1393. In 1598, the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (one of Japan’s most influential historical figures) relocated the temple to its current location when he entered Edo (Tokyo).

During Edo period, Zojoji temple was the family temple of the Tokugawa family and you can see there the family mausoleum located at the back of the site.

Zojoji Temple Tokyo Tower

In addition to …continue reading


Japan To Open Borders To Tourists From June 2022

Yes, you heard that right!

Japan is FINALLY planning to open its borders to tourists from next month (June 2022).

This is the news we were all waiting for more than 2 years!

As you probably know, Japan is one of the most strict countries when it comes to traveling during the pandemic. As of now, only Japanese nationals and foreign residents are allowed to enter the country. Exceptions are made for foreign students, technical interns and business travellers but no tourists are allowed.

But on May 5, the Japanese prime minister Kishida shook up the world and declared in London that he plan to relax the borders restrictions from June 2022 to allow tourist to visit Japan. He mentioned that he plans to align the Japanese travel restrictions to the rest of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, UK and US).

“We will further relax control, so that in June it will be possible to enter the country as smoothly as other G7 nations” said prime minister Kishida.

When it’s not clear what will be the travel restrictions to enter Japan as a tourist yet, it’s likely that the country will give priority to fully vaccinated people and authorities will probably require a PCR test prior to the flight. We can also anticipate that the opening will be done in stages, with a limit of daily arrivals for example.

Kishida also added that Japan is currently in a holiday period (Golden Week) and people are expected to travel massively within the country. The government need to analyse the impact of the Golden Week on the circulation of the virus before to take a final decision.

Japan has been very criticised around the world for its strict immigration restrictions and is now facing economic challenges, particularly with the record-low value of the Japanese yen.

Opening the borders may …continue reading


T-Rex turns shiba inu’s dog park visit into greatest weekend


A trip to the dog park is highlight of the week for many dogs, but Japanese Twitter user @kuroshibapeko made sure to make it special enough fun to last for weeks on end.

@kuroshibapeko recently shared a video of a very different type of dog park trip with their beloved shiba inu, Peko. As you can see in the video, Peko was treated to quite the exciting time, and the caption @kuroshibapeko shared the video with speaks for itself:

I had the greatest weekend with my dog.


— 暴君ぺこ (@kuroshibapeko) April 24, 2022

In a conveniently empty dog park, @kuroshibapeko is giving Peko quite the humorous chase in a giant dinosaur costume. Peko seems super enthused, and almost seems to be mocking them as they run circles around the flailing dinosaur and stopping and starting to give them a chance to catch up.

@kuroshibapeko explained that in order to not scare Peko with the costume, they first showed it to them at home and tried it on around them in order for the excitable shiba inu to get used to it.

Source: @kuroshibapeko

It certainly makes for quite the image!

Source: @kuroshibapeko

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Best Tourist Spots in Kurashiki

Have you heard of Kurashiki (倉敷), a charming Japanese town that is known for its Edo Period canal district and old storehouses? The Ohara Museum and Ivy Square with historical significance but a trendy feel to it are other attractions of Kurashiki. Chances are that this is the first time you learn about what’s called the ‘Venice of Japan’, and that is because it is not on the average international tourists’ radar yet. Local Japanese tourists already know about the charms of this city in Okayama Prefecture though, and we would like to introduce the best tourist spots in Kurashiki to you as well! History of Kurashiki During the Heian […]

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Nakasendo Trail – All You Need To Know To Hike This Edo Period Route

Magome Chaya

When visiting the beautiful country of Japan, it is a wonder how anyone is able to leave the addictive vibes of the city at all.

From the big towering skyscrapers to the hustle and bustle of the crowds, the draw of the concrete jungle that is Tokyo and Osaka (and alike) is absolutely magnetic.

However, the beauty of Japan is that beauty is actually everywhere you look.

Nature actually plays a big role in the stunning sceneries of Japan. Certain cities only look that good because of the mountains in the distance. The cherry blossoms that overtake the streets in spring cannot be replicated anywhere; their charm is unique and irreplaceable.

The list of Japan’s natural beauty is positively endless, but today, we’re focusing on one particularly unique part.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself into the elements of Japan whilst simultaneously enjoy its history and culture, the Nakasendo Trail is the perfect option.

History of the Nakasendo Trail

Centuries ago during the Edo period, the Nakasendo Trail was what connected today’s Tokyo and Kyoto.

It was mainly frequented by business travellers and would take them a few days to traverse the 526km long trail on foot. ‘Post towns’ popped up around main sections of the route to provide travellers with boarding and food whilst on this journey.

Walking the Nakasendo

Today, parts of the trail have been preserved and you can actually walk and explore sections of the trails on foot yourself. From the well-preserved post-towns to the stunning rural scenery, it makes for quite the trip to immerse yourself into Japan’s nature and history.

Most of the trail is not difficult so it can be done by people of all ages.

The 4 Best Parts of …continue reading


Photographer captures amazing “end of days” dark Phoenix swirling above Mt. Fuji


Mt. Fuji reigns as an UNESCO World Heritage site and perhaps the greatest symbol of natural wonder in Japan, so it’s no surprise it’s a fantastic source for gorgeous photography. With stunning views from multiple angles, you can always find a surprising shot that presents the iconic mountain in a new light depending on the time of day.

Japanese photographer Maru (@marupi11y) highlighted just how magical the mountain can look when photographed at just the right time with a photo that has many on Twitter comparing the scenery to the end of days. Maru captured a sunset photo of Mt. Fuji with what looks like dark and fiery Phoenix swirling above the mountain!

Source: @marupi11y

The sky above Mt. Fuji is going crazy and it really looks like the end of the world.


— まる🧸🎈 (@marupi11y) February 19, 2022

Maru’s photo captures dark clouds forming in a sunset sky above Mt. Fuji, in the shape of what looks like the legendary Phoenix in an ominous shot. As gorgeous a shot as it is, many in the replies likened the scene to an Apocalyptic event or the end of times.

While we can happily say no such doomsday scenario occurred, the photo is yet another reminder that there are no shortage of majestic views of Mt. Fuji! For more awesome photography in Japan, be sure to follow Maru on Twitter.

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Cherry Blossom Forecast Japan Spring 2022 – When To Enjoy Sakura

Cherry Blossom Forecast Japan Spring Sakura 3

Cherry Blossom Forecast Japan Spring 2022 – This is the time we’ve been all waiting for! The cherry blossoms in Japan (Sakura) is THE EVENT OF THE YEAR and everyone can’t wait to enjoy watching these gorgeous pink flowers.

The Sakura are actually more than just a flower in Japan, they are one of the important symbol of the country and they represent ephemeral beauty. Indeed, no matter how gorgeous they are, they only last 2 weeks, making us amazed and then a bit sad and melancholic.

But Sakura are also a symbol of hope cause they always return! 🙂

The cherry blossoms forecast for 2022 were recently released and they will come a bit earlier than usual this year.

2 dates are important to note, the start of the blooming and the full bloom that usually occurs few days later. The best time to enjoy Sakura is when the flowers are completely open but don’t worry if you few days away from the exact date. As long as you visit the Sakura spots around that date, you will be fine!

The blooming of the cherry flowers depend significantly on the weather. That’s why they bloom at different times in the country.

Here are the full bloom dates for Spring 2022 in Japan:

Cherry Blossom Sakura Forecast Spring 2022 Japan

For the start of the blooming, here are the dates for each major city in Japan:

  • Sapporo: April 30
  • Aomori: April 22
  • Sendai: April 8
  • Tokyo: March 24
  • Kanazawa: April 5
  • Nagano: April 12
  • Nagoya: March 24
  • Kyoto: March 28
  • Osaka: March 28
  • Wakayama: March 29
  • Hiroshima: March 25
  • Kochi: March 21
  • Fukuoka: March 20
  • Kagoshima: March 23

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Kumano Kodo – Discover These Sacred Pilgrimage Trails In Wakayama

Kumano Kodo Hongu Taisha Shrine 1

Kumano Kodo is a network of pilgrimage trails located in the south of Kansai. They lead to the 3 grand shrines of Kumano: Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha. These 3 shrines combined are commonly know as Kumano Sanzan and they are part of the most important Shinto sites of all Japan!

The trails start from different cities including Kyoto, Yoshino (Nara), Ise, Koyasan and pilgrims walked on these roads for more than a 1000 years! With Camino de Santiago, Kumano Kodo trails are the only pilgrimage routes that are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage.

In this article, we are going to introduce you to each of the 3 grand shrines so you can better understand their importance. We will follow with few travel tips on how to organise your hiking trips in Kumano Kodo.

Hongu Taisha Shrine

Kumano Hongu Taisha is undoubtedly the most important shrine of the area. In fact, it’s the head shrine of more than 3000 shrines in the region.

Kumano Kodo Hongu Taisha Shrine 2

It was founded in 33 BC and was originally located in Oyunohara, on a sandbank at the confluence of the Otonashi and Kumano rivers. But in 1889, after severe rains, flooding destroyed the majority of the shrine.

Kumano Kodo Hongu Taisha Shrine 5

After this unfortunate event, the shrine was relocated on a hill next to the river (less than 1km away) and a giant torii has been built at the exact location of the old shrine. …continue reading


New Hotel Room ENTIRELY Made Of ICE In Hokkaido

Ice Theme Hotel Room Hokkaido Japan Hoshino Resort 3

When we think about the best seasons to travel to Japan, we often have in mind Spring or Autumn. But Winter in Japan is absolutely fabulous too and what better place to enjoy it than Hokkaido!

One of the most luxurious hotel of the area is probably Hoshino Resorts Tomamu and this year, they introduced a new concept: the Ice Hotel. Here, the hotel room is actually a big dome made of ice and even the furniture and the ground is made of ice!

© Hoshino Resorts Inc.

In this region of Japan, the usual temperatures during winter can sometimes reach -30°C, making it the ideal place for this type of accommodation.

But you may ask, am I gonna freeze in this room? Well, Hoshino got you covered! Indeed, they will provide special pyjamas for very cold weather and even your dog will be have his own fluffy coat!

Ice Theme Hotel Room Hokkaido Japan Hoshino Resort 7
© Hoshino Resorts Inc.

In addition to warm sheets, you will be given sleeping bags that will keep you warm during the night.

Ice Theme Hotel Room Hokkaido Japan Hoshino Resort 2
© Hoshino Resorts Inc.

There’s even a gorgeous outdoor bath made of ice that you can soak in while stargazing. How cool is that!

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