COVID-19: Updates from Japan

With the unpredictability of the outbreak and increasing international cases, this is a serious situation that we are following closely. Many precautions are currently being taken at airports and other transport hubs in Japan, and many flights to/from Japan have been cancelled or postponed. We want to be as transparent as possible throughout this challenging situation, so please check back on this page for updates.

What about my tour this year?

For all our guests who have booked spring and summer 2020 trips, we are issuing 100% travel credit, which can be applied to any future guided or self-guided tour.

For fall 2020 travelers, we will be in touch in August 2020 with updated travel information.

Can I book a 2021 tour?

We understand that in challenging times like this, it’s a great feeling just to get some plans on the calendar. It gives us something to look forward to as well as motivation to get on the bike to train for an adventure ahead!

We currently have tours that are accepting bookings for next year, starting in March 2021. Please note that our current cancellation policy applies. Given these uncertain times, we are allowing all guests to transfer tour payment into future travel credit (no fees) up to 30 days prior to your trip’s start date.

For example, if you decide to book a tour that begins on March 31, 2021, you can confirm your spots on tour by submitting your deposit now. We will check in with you in 2021 to check on your ability to travel to Japan. If travel bans are still in place between your country and Japan on March 1, you have the option to transfer the amount paid to travel credit, which can be applied to any future tour dates (guided or self-guided).

TIMELINE of the Situation in Japan

Feb 27: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will request all elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan to close through early April amid concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

Mar 1: United Airlines has announced: “we are suspending some service to Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Singapore and Seoul, and we’ll stay in close contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations as we continue to evaluate our schedule.”

Mar 24: Regarding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, IOC Member Dick Pound has stated “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24”

April 7: Travelers who have been in the following countries in the past two weeks preceding arrival to Japan are currently banned from entering the country – Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China (incl HK and Macau), DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Grece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA, Vatican, Vietnam.

April 16: Japan issues state of emergency for the whole country, lasting until May 6.

May 24: Japan lifts the state of emergency in Hokkaido, Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, removing the last of the restrictions. 

July 1: The European Union agrees to lift travel restrictions for 14 countries from July 1. Japan is one of these 14 countries.

A cultural Note – mask wearing in japan & asia

In Japan (and much of Asia), face masks are often worn as a sign of courtesy. When an individual feels like they experiencing even a mild cold or seasonal allergies, they will wear a mask in public out of courtesy as to not sneeze on those around them. Some individuals with sensitive respiratory systems will also wear a mask to avoid smoke or poor air quality. What more, in places like Japan with cold dry winters many people choose to wear a face mask simply to help keep their airways humid.

This can be a little disconcerting for visitors from non-Asian countries where there is no culture of wearing masks. Just keep in mind that most masks in Japan are worn as a sign of courtesy, a seasonal precaution, or a fashion choice.

Current situation INTERNATIONALLY

Please explore this WHO page, where daily updates are reported on the Corona Virus.

Keep in mind that although these daily situation reports tend to lag behind some news headlines, figures have been verified by WHO. Also, please note that WHO has separated the numbers between the Diamond Cruise Ship and Japan’s country metrics.

Advice from INTL GOVT Advisories

Advice from GOV.UK – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/japan

Advice from CDC – https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/japan

Advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/japan

Advice from the Govt of Canada – https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

Further REading

While news headlines do their job of alerting the public, we recommend keeping up with the situation from sources that are not motivated by clicks or views and that come from the source rather than through the lens of the distant media not present in the situation.

Johns Hopkins’ ArcGIS Global Case Map

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel advice

US State Department International Travel Advice

Australian Government Smart Traveller

Once again, thank you so much for your understanding, support, and patience during this challenging time. Our team will continue to keep this page updated as we receive new information from the above sources.

山川异域 风月同天 – Lands apart, shared sky