Travel Alerts and Disaster Updates

Latest news on events affecting travel in Japan

Coronavirus Outbreak

Last updated: April 9, 2020

The outbreak of the coronavirus is having a big impact on travel activities in Japan in the form of travel restrictions, closures and event cancellations.

So far, the coronavirus has not spread in Japan at an explosive rate as seen in Europe and North America; however, some experts are warning that this could change in the near future.

Domestic Travel Restrictions

Due to a recent increase in new infections in large metropolitan areas, a state of emergency came into effect on April 8 in Tokyo (and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama), Osaka (and neighboring Hyogo Prefecture) and Fukuoka Prefecture and will last until May 6. The state of emergency allows local authorities to issue more strongly worded requests than before on avoiding non-essential outdoor activities and on business and school closures. Nevertheless, the measures will be less stringent than the lockdowns seen in some other countries.

During the state of emergency, the inhabitants of the designated prefectures are requested to stay at home except for essential activities, such as grocery shopping, doctor visits and commuting to work. It is expected that some prefectural governments will also request the closure of some businesses, especially entertainment-related ones, such as karaoke parlors, bars, nightclubs, live houses, movie theaters and sport clubs, but possibly also department stores and shopping malls. Details will be announced later this week. Public transportation will remain unaffected.

Outside the areas affected by the state of emergency the situation tends to be less stringent, although details depend on the local authorities.

International Travel Restrictions

Japan is currently refusing entry to non-Japanese people who have been to any of over 70 designated countries across the world within the past 14 days, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, China and most European countries (including the UK), except under special circumstances.

Japan is also temporarily suspending visa exemptions for the time being, making it necessary for all visitors to apply for a visa before traveling to Japan.

Furthermore, all people entering Japan, including Japanese nationals, will have to undergo a quarantine at a designated location and may not use public transportation for 14 days upon arrival.

Likewise, there are many countries that refuse entry to people arriving from Japan or require travelers arriving from Japan to undergo a quarantine.

Closures and cancellations

Currently affected by closures are especially museums, other indoor attractions and theme parks, but also many other facilities, activities and tours. Tokyo has also closed many of its parks and gardens. Temples and shrines, on the other hand, tend to be less affected by closures.

Most shops and restaurants remain open; however, some of them have reduced their business hours. In Tokyo and the other areas affected by the state of emergency, it is expected that the number of closures will be increasing, especially among entertainment-related establishments and on weekends.

A large number of events are being cancelled or postponed.

Authorities are urging people to refrain from holding hanami parties during this year's cherry blossom season. It is believed that the virus spreads more easily in places where crowds remain for extended time periods, especially if they share food, consume alcohol and talk in close proximity to each other. Most cherry blossom festivals and special illuminations have been cancelled across the country.

Below is an incomplete list of major attractions closed due to the virus:

Greater Tokyo

Yokohama

Kyoto

Osaka

Nara

Himeji

Fuji Five Lakes

Matsumoto

Nagoya

Kanazawa

Naoshima and nearby islands

Hiroshima

Fukuoka

Sasebo

Okinawa


Typhoon #19 Update

Typhoon #19 ("Hagibis") brought record-breaking rainfall and winds to central, eastern and northern Japan on October 12-13, 2019. The typhoon caused flooding, landslides and loss of life in several regions, especially in the Kanto Region around Tokyo, the eastern Chubu Region, and the eastern Tohoku Region. In the meantime, the situation has normalized in most tourist destinations.

Affected tourist destinations

  • Hakone received particularly large amounts of rainfall, resulting in transportation disruptions. However, the situation has mostly normalized in the meantime except for the disruption of the Hakone Tozan Railway which is scheduled to be back in service around late July 2020. More details.
  • The restoration of damaged train sections that provide access to the Fukuroda Falls and Bessho Onsen is still underway. See each page for more details.

2016 Kyushu Earthquake

Strong earthquakes hit Kyushu in April 2016. Two train lines and a few sightseeing spots are still affected. More details


Volcano Closures

No-entry zones are currently maintained at the following prominent volcanoes:

  • Sakurajima (Level 3 - do not approach the volcano)
    Do not climb the mountain. Does not affect transportation and tourism.
  • Mount Aso (Level 2 - do not approach the crater)
    No-entry zone 1 km from crater. Closure of ropeway, road and hiking trails.
  • Kusatsu-Shirane (Level 2 - do not approach the crater)
    No-entry zones around craters. Closure of hiking trails.
  • Mount Shinmoedake (Kirishima) (Level 2 - do not approach the crater)
    No-entry zone 2 km from crater. Closure of hiking trails.