FAQ for Travel to Japan on Oku Japan’s Special Opening Small-Group Guided Tours

FAQ for Travelling to Japan


What are the Red, Yellow, and  Blue List countries?

The most up-to-date list of Red, Yellow, and Blue List countries can be found here: https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html#title4

If I am from a Yellow or Red list country, may I participate in your tour?

I am sorry, at this time we are unable to accept tour participants from ‘Yellow’ or ‘Red’ list countries due to the quarantine on arrival requirements for participants from these countries.

I am from a Blue List country, but, in the 14 days prior to my travel to Japan I will visit a yellow or red list country.  May I participate in your tour?

I am sorry but due to the requirements to quarantine, if you have been in a yellow or red list country in the 14 days prior to your arrival in Japan, we are unable to accept you as a participant on our tour.

Who should I contact with questions or for help with quarantine requirements?

Please contact the hotline of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare who can assist in English, Chinese, Korean, or Japanese.  The hotline is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Japan Standard Time.  The telephone number is +81-50-1751-2158 or +81-50-1741-8558.

Can I travel on one of your self-guided tours at this time?

Due to government restrictions, it is not possible to travel on one of our self-guided tours at this time. We do hope we will see further changes here soon and are monitoring the situation carefully.

Can I add pre- or post-tour nights to my tour?

Due to the current requirements that all visitors are to travel on set itineraries that are guided from arrival into Japan to departure from Japan, we are not able to accept pre- or post-tour night requests.

Can I add one of your extensions to my tour?

Due to the current requirements that all visitors be traveling on set itineraries that are guided from arrival into Japan to departure from Japan, we are not able to add extensions to your tour at this time.

The dates of your tour don’t work for me. Can I book a private departure of your tour?  

Yes, subject to availability, we will accept requests for private departures of our two special opening tour itineraries.  Our sales team will advise you on the pricing for a fully private departure.

I like the tour itinerary, but I don’t want to travel with strangers. Can I have a departure for just me and my family, or for me and my friends?

Yes, subject to availability, we will accept requests for private departures of our two special opening tour itineraries.  Our sales team will advise you on the pricing for a fully private departure.

I want to go to Japan but I don’t want to travel on your itinerary.  Can you help me with a custom privately guided departure?

Custom tours require careful planning and preparation.  At this time we can only accept requests for privately guided departures from 2023 onward, subject to the availability of accommodation and a guide. Other conditions may apply. Please contact us for details.

What should I know before booking my flights?  

Your first port of entry in Japan must be the airport where your tour begins.  

You must arrive in Japan on the designated start date for the tour - not before and not after.  We recommend flight arrivals within a range of times so that you do not have a long wait at the airport for your group to form.

For the Special Opening version of our Kumano Ancient Trail tour, your first arrival airport in Japan must be Kansai International Airport only.  You may not book flights that arrive first in Tokyo or other regional Japanese airports and then connect to Osaka Itami or Kansai International Airport.  We will operate 2 separate escorted transfers from the end of this tour - one timed for morning departures, and one timed for late evening departures.  We recommend arrival in the afternoon or evening.  Please note that some later evening arrivals from Australia may miss the Welcome Dinner.

26 July 2022 - 4 August 2022

2 August 2022 - 11 August 2022

29 August 2022 - 7 September 2022

For the Special Opening version of our Nakasendo and Kiso Valley tour, your first arrival in Japan must be at the designated Tokyo airport for your departure. We recommend an arrival no later than 3:00 pm.  Your entry and departure airports must be as follows for each departure date:

26 July 2022 to 3 August 2022 - Haneda Airport

2 August 2022 - 10 August 2022 - Narita International Airport

23 August 2022 - 31 August 2022 - Haneda Airport

Can I transit through a red or yellow country on my flights?  

Please do not book flights with a transit through a Red or Yellow list country.  You may not have a stopover in a red or yellow country before your arrival.  We strongly recommend that you book flights that only transit via blue list countries in the event of any flight issues or disruptions that might require you to leave the secure transit area of the airport and which would invalidate your application for entry to Japan.  

What are the entry requirements for Japan?

For full details of entry requirements for Japan for one of our special small group guided tours, see the details at the Japan National Tourism Organization here: https://japan.travel/en/practical-coronavirus-information/tourists/

Border entry requirements due to Coronavirus are subject to change.  The most up-to-date information can be found at the website of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare here: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/bordercontrol.html#h2_4

Supplemental information may also be found at the website of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs here: https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

To enter Japan for the purposes of tourism at this time, you must have a valid special visa, a negative Covid-19 test certificate, and Travel Insurance.  You will be asked to fill in a questionnaire and a pledge that you will abide by Coronavirus prevention measures in Japan.  You must also have access to a mobile phone so that you can register your details on the MySOS app.  

Right now, if tourism in Japan is the sole purpose of your journey, you will need to travel on a guided package tour that is escorted from arrival to departure in Japan.  Good news!  Our small-group guided tours meet this requirement.

How do I begin the process?

Your first step is to book and make payment for your tour with us.  Once you have booked your tour, we will ask you for the information necessary to seek an ERFS certificate of registration or certificate of acceptance that you’ll need to apply for your visa to enter Japan.  When we receive the necessary information from you, we will apply for your ERFS certificate of registration.  Once we receive your certificate, we will email it to you so you can apply for a visa through your local Japanese consulate or Embassy.

Within 72 hours of your departure, you must take a Covid 19 test meeting Japan’s requirements and this must have a negative test result. We ask that you please seek to satisfy the Japan format requested by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.  You’ll find details of that here: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/border_test.html

Then, download the MySOS app, and register for Visit Japan Web.  Complete and upload your documentation for smooth entry into Japan.

Purchase travel insurance to cover you should you fall ill with Covid-19 during your travels.

I have been vaccinated against Covid-19.  Do I still need to have a negative test before travelling to Japan?

Yes, all people seeing entry are required to have a negative test certificate for Covid-19, even if they are vaccinated, and even if they are vaccinated and boosted.  You can learn more at the website of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare here: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/bordercontrol.html#h2_4

Does the 72-hour window for the validity of the negative Covid-19 test begin from the time when my test was taken or when my result was received?

The 72-hour window before your departure for Japan begins from the time your test was taken.

What kind of Covid-19 test must I take for my test certificate to be valid?  

There are restrictions on the type of Covid-19 test valid for entry into Japan.  Details of the test type and administration method for valid test types can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare here: https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/border_test.html

Can I just use whatever testing certificate my tester provides? Or are there special requirements?

The Japanese government strongly prefers entrants to have a test certificate in a prescribed format.  Please print and bring a copy of this format to your test.  You will find this certificate of inspection here:  https://www.mhlw.go.jp/content/000799426.pdf

If your testing location can not use this format, your certificate must at a minimum include the following information in English or in Japanese:

(1) Name
(2) Date of birth
(3) Testing method for COVID-19
(4) Sample
(5) Specimen collection date and time
(6) Result
(7) Name of medical institution
(8) Date of issue

My country had a Visa Waiver program with Japan previously.  Do I still need to apply for a visa to join your tour?

Yes, Japan has canceled its Visa Waiver Programme for all tourist, business, and student visitors and you will now need a visa to enter the country. You can find details of this on the website of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs here: https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html#title4

I have a visa for travel to Japan that I obtained before Japan closed due to coronavirus measures.  Do I still need to apply for a visa to join your tour? 

The Japanese government canceled many types of visas. Please consult directly with the Japanese consulate or embassy and please advise us of your visa type. We kindly remind you that as per our booking terms and conditions, Oku Japan can not take any responsibility if you are unable to enter Japan because you are traveling on an incorrect visa type.

What if I do not have a certificate of inspection that indicates I have tested negative for Covid-19?

    You will be denied boarding by your airline and/or denied entry into Japan.

How long will it take my Japanese Embassy or Consulate to process my visa application?  How much will it cost?

Processing times may vary depending on the workflow of your closest Japanese Consulate or Embassy. Please contact them directly for processing times and fees.  In principle, we have been advised that processing may take up to 5 working days. Please bear in mind that the Embassy or Consulate may be closed for both local and Japanese public holidays.  The cost of the visa is set by the Japanese government.

Can you apply for my visa for me?

We cannot apply for your visa for you, but we can apply for the ERFS Certificate that is necessary to obtain your visa once you have booked and paid for your tour.

Where can I get help with questions about my visa application for Japan?

Please contact your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate as they are best placed to assist.  

Travellers from the continental United States may also contact the Japan Visa Information Hotline at 1-888-704-4459. This call is charged at a domestic call fee.  Travellers from Alaska and Hawaii may be best calling this number through Skype or a similar app to avoid charges.

Travellers from Australia may contact the General Visa Information line toll-free at 1-800-930-979.

Travellers from Canada may contact the Japan Visa Information Hotline in English at 1-888-984-2291.

Travellers from the United Kingdom should contact their local consulate office.  The telephone number for the London Consular section os 0207-7465-6565.  Applicants from Scotland and the North of England (see the Embassy webpage for details) should contact the Consulate General in Edinburgh at 0131-225-4777.

Travellers from New Zealand should please consult the website of the Embassy of Japan in New Zealand to determine which Diplomatic Mission- Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch - they should consult with questions.

Do I have to pay in full for my tour?

If your tour is within 2 months of departure, as per our booking terms and conditions we require payment in full.  We recommend you contact your credit card company to advise them that you will be making a large payment.  It may show as RealEx, our secure credit card payment system, or Oxalis Holidays, Ltd. The name of our affiliated company.

I tried to pay in full for my tour but my credit card company declined it.

Firstly, please contact your credit card company to advise them that you do wish to make the charge and the amount. Then please contact us so we may send a link for you to attempt your payment again.  If it does not go through a second time. Please contact us.

I am a solo traveller. I know that usually, you pair up members of the group by sex when staying at the Japanese inns.  Will that provision also apply to the special opening tours?

No, we will not be applying this condition to our special opening tours and will book solo travellers with a solo occupancy room wherever possible.

There is an error in the information I provided to you to obtain my ERFS.  What do I do?

Please contact us right away as we will need to cancel your ERFS and request a new one with the correct information.  You will need to apply for a visa again with the correct Information.

What is the MySOS app? 

The MySOS app allows you a means to pre-register your information before your arrival in Japan for faster and smoother processing through quarantine screening.  We recommend we download the app to your smartphone for use. MySOS has a ‘Fast Track’ function that allows you to upload a number of the documents required for entry into Japan.  When all the information has been submitted, your app will show a blue or green checkmark which will indicate that you have downloaded MySOS, have filled out our questionnaire and pledge for entry, confirmed your vaccination certificate (optional), and have confirmed your negative Covid 19 test result taken less than 72 hours before departure.

How do I install the MySOS app and how does it work?

You can find information about the app at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare here: https://www.hco.mhlw.go.jp/fasttrack/en/

How far in advance should I enter my information into the MySOS app?

We recommend that you enter your information after you have received your negative Covid test result as you will need to upload this information to your app for review.  If you enter your information at least 6 hours before your scheduled arrival time in Japan, your review should be completed before your arrival. If possible, do try to submit your information far enough in advance of your departure in a quiet moment so you can be sure you are entering your details carefully and have time to register and create log-ins.    We strongly recommend that you bring backup paper copies of your documentation for review should you have a technical issue with the app.

What do I need to use MySOS and its ‘Fast Track’ functionality?

  • A smartphone or device with the MySOS app installed

  • Your passport number

  • Your vaccination certificate (optional for entrants from Blue list countries)

  • Your negative Covid Test Certificate

What is the Visit Japan Web?

The Visit Japan Web allows you to submit information in advance to clear Immigration and Customs on entry in Japan. Once you submit your information, you’ll be provided with a QR code for entry into Japan.  This allows for touch-free immigration processing.

Where can I find out more about the Visit Japan Web?

    For more information please go to the Visit Japan Web here: https://www.visitjapan.digital.go.jp/Web/Login

    You can also find additional information about Visit Japan Web here: https://www.digital.go.jp/en/services/visit_japan_web-en/

What kind of insurance do I need to buy?

As part of our standard booking conditions, Oku Japan requires that you purchase travel insurance that covers you for personal accidents, medical expenses, and repatriation expenses, including helicopter rescue and air ambulance.  You can find details of our booking conditions here: https://www.okujapan.com/about-us/booking-conditions

We will require information on your insurance before your departure for Japan.

We also recommend that you have insurance covering cancellation, loss of personal belongings on tour, and other expenses which might arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay, or inconvenience occurring to you.  

The Japanese Government requires that you purchase private medical insurance that includes coverage for medical expenses related to COVID-19 and has adequate coverage and services. 


What happens when I arrive in Japan?

When you arrive in Japan, show your blue or green screen on the MySOS app at the quarantine office.  This will indicate that you have submitted all your information and that the authorities' review is complete. If your screen is yellow, you may need to submit supplementary information manually on entry.  If your screen is red there is a problem with your submission and you will need to try to re-enter the information again.  

Then proceed through Immigration and Customs.  The QR codes on the Visit Japan Web indicate that you have completed the necessary Immigration requirements.

Collect your luggage and clear customs.  If you have completed your customs information in advance at the Visit Japan Web, then please show your QR code.

After clearing customs, you’ll enter the airport.  Please look for your Oku Japan tour guide (they’ll be carrying an Oku Japan signboard), and get ready for the start of your tour.

What happens if my flight is delayed?

We will ask for your full flight details before your travel and will monitor your flight information and you will still be met by one of our team.

What happens if I can’t find the Oku Japan guide on arrival?

Please wait in the arrivals hall immediately outside the customs area you just exited. Please do not leave the airport.  If you have cellphone service, you may also call the guide on the telephone number that will be provided in your itinerary.

What happens if I pay and sign up for the tour, enter Japan, and don’t join the tour? Or, what happens if I join the tour and then do not leave after the tour?

We will be required under the conditions of the ERFS application system to notify the authorities.  

What do I do if I feel unwell during my tour?

Please notify the guide immediately and we will implement our support protocols to look after you and your health.

What are the expectations about mask-wearing on my tour?

As part of your entry to Japan, you must pledge to abide by Japanese government guidelines on mast wearing.

It is important to wear a mask a basic prevention measure against Covid-19. Your action will protect everyone’s health. You do not need to wear a mask outdoors when you are approximately 2 meters apart from others, or when you are not talking at a distance of fewer than 2 meters. You do not need to wear a mask indoors when you are approximately 2 meters apart from others and when you are not talking.  In crowded areas - i.e. on public transport, you should wear a mask. In towns and villages, we will ask that you wear a mask both to protect yourselves and the community. When hiking on the trail, and when we are spaced at a distance of 2 meters, masks are not required.

What is the current etiquette for Covid-19 in Japan?

Mask wearing has been common in Japanese society, long before the arrival of Covid-19.  Typically the Japanese would wear masks if ill to avoid making others ill.  Even though mask-wearing is not required in Japan, most people continue to wear masks.  Government guidelines suggest that you choose shops or accommodations that have implemented health and hygiene measures. We have chosen restaurants and accommodations that do.  Practice good health and hygiene measures such as wearing a mask and washing/sanitizing your hands frequently, even if you are vaccinated.  Monitor your physical health daily.  Seek to maintain physical distancing where possible.

How can I prevent the spread of Covid-19 at my accommodation?

Check your body temperature and sanitize your hands upon check-in at your accommodation.  Refrain from talking when using public baths or onsen. Minimize your time spend in shared dining areas, particularly those that are not ventilated.  Remember to wear masks at social gatherings.  

How can I prevent the spread of Covid-19 on public transportation?

Wear masks when using public transport.  Improve ventilation as much as possible.  Try to travel outside peak travel times.  Try to refrain from talking when using public transport.

How can I prevent the spread of Covid-19 while sightseeing or shopping?

Try to travel outside of peak times and visit places that are not crowded.  Keep your voice down in public places.  Maintain physical distancing, even when outside.  Sanitize your hands prior to and after touching products such as souvenirs in shops.

How can I prevent the spread of Covid-19 while drinking or dining?

Sanitize your hands before entering cafes, bars, and restaurants.  Portion out services in advance when sharing food.

Book your tour with confidence! Wondering how to come to Japan? Let us help.