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Covid-19 etiquette tips for travelling in Japan

From wearing face masks to pre-booking museums, here’s everything to know for a safe and comfortable time in Japan

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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With Japan finally reopening to the world on October 11, anticipation is running high. While there’s a lot to be excited about, it's good to be aware of the situation to help you have the smoothest trip possible.

We understand that guidelines for safety vary by country, and Japan still has a few anti-virus measures in place. So here are some of the important Covid-19 etiquette tips to know about when visiting Japan.

Wearing face masks

While masks are not so common in other countries anymore, they are still very much prevalent in Japan. It’s not absolutely mandatory to wear face masks in Japan but it's encouraged indoors and on public transport. Plus, many venues including museums, restaurants and shops still ask visitors to wear masks before entering.

If you’re unsure of where you should wear a face mask, most venues will have a sign placed at the entrance to give you further instruction. Need to purchase some extra masks? You can easily find them at drugstores and convenience stores all over the city.

If you are in a situation that doesn’t require a mask, you'll find that people don't talk loudly, especially in crowded places or while eating at a restaurant. Most restaurants will also have clear, plastic barriers between diners.

Follow other anti-virus precautions

Along with wearing face masks, many venues will still take your temperature and ask you to sanitise your hands as you walk in the door. Temperatures are usually taken by scanning your wrist or forehead. 

When possible, you should also practise social distancing. Some venues still offer guidelines on the floor to help mark where you should stand a safe distance from others around you.

To avoid spreading germs, public restrooms have now turned off their automatic hand dryers. So it’s a good idea to carry a small towel around in your bag and some extra hand sanitiser, too. 

Make a reservation

Since the pandemic, many venues including restaurants and museums now require advance reservation to help avoid overcrowding and congestion. If you know the specific restaurant you’d like to eat at, you could always ask your hotel concierge or a friend who speaks Japanese to help book you a table. Museums, especially, now implement a timed entry system, so you'll need to decide on an entry time slot when booking your ticket.

If you’re wondering whether you need a reservation, just check the official website of your attraction as many reservations can now be easily made online (Google Translate will be your best friend here). 

Use cashless payment options

Over the last few years, Japan has introduced a number of cashless payment options that are extremely convenient during this pandemic age. Do keep in mind that it may be impossible to go completely cashless. You’ll still want to keep some bills in your wallet, as many of Japan’s smaller shops and restaurants are cash-only.

For international tourists, having a rechargeable IC card is probably your best option. In Tokyo, two of the most widely used IC cards are Pasmo and Suica, which can be bought at train stations. You can use these cards for transport as well as purchasing things at convenience stores and selected shops and restaurants.

Monitor your health

Additionally, if you are not feeling well, it's best to take some rest and avoid going outside. It's definitely worth staying in if your temperature reaches 37.5 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit).

For multilingual medical assistance in Japan, visit the JNTO website. You can also contact the JNTO call centre at 050 3816 2787.

Planning a trip to Japan? See our guide to Japan’s reopening here.

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