Traveling in and out of Japan

From Akita Wiki

As a JET, you will be given the opportunity to get out and do some traveling. This guide is to help you get all the information that you will need to be knowledgeable and make the right decisions during your trip.

International travel during COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel requirements and restrictions are changing rapidly. Plan your travel as far as in advance as possible and allow for extra time for testing and quarantine time, and check your airline and destination area's website for the most updated prevention measures and entry information.

Please inform your BOE, supervisor, and/or Contracting Organization, especially if you plan on traveling internationally. Furthermore, there may be additional quarantine procedures required especially should any positive tests from yourself or other passengers arise through your international travel (as your travel activity may be tracked during re-entry).

Some airlines, host countries, and destination countries may require a specific (and up-to-date) vaccination or a booster, proof of vaccination, as well as a negative COVID-19 test result before you travel. You must check with each country you plan on disembarking at and the airlines you will be flying with to ensure you will be able to leave and arrive with minimal problems or delays.

If you do not meet the requirements of any of the involved parties, you may be denied boarding or entry into the country without any refund. In some extreme cases, you will be sent back to your country of origin.

Vaccinations, boosters, and masks

Only the following vaccines are currently approved for entry into Japan.

  • Pfizer (COMIRNATY)
  • Moderna (aka Spikevax)
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

(Mixing/matching 1st and 2nd doses within approved vaccines are acceptable)

Only the following vaccine boosters (third dose or injection) are currently approved for entry into Japan:

  • Pfizer (COMIRNATY)
  • Moderna (aka Spikevax)

(Mixing/matching between approved vaccines and approved boosters are acceptable, for example, Pfizer vaccine with a Moderna booster)

These will be accompanied with a government-issued certificate which is necessary for an international vaccine certification. Please check if your vaccine or booster timeline has not expired before your travel.

Many airports and airlines may enforce a mask policy as well. Regardless of your home country laws, vaccine status, or viewpoint on masks, you are subject to the local laws and regulations of the host or visiting country, so please be aware of them and follow them as you are also subject to their penalties as well.

International vaccine certificate

新型コロナワクチン接種証明書アプリ.png
  • For a paper vaccination certification for international travel, you will need to fill out the application form (available at your local municipality office) and have your passport and vaccination paperwork and submit them to your local city hall. A My Number card is not necessary.
  • For a digital vaccine certification, you must have a My Number card from your local municipality. If you do not have one, you will need to apply for one at your local municipality city hall or office. The digital version may utilize the My Number portal app.

The digital certificate app is called "新型コロナワクチン接種証明書アプリ" or "接種証明書" for short. You can download it below:

Apple version
Android version


What does my airline require?

When you book your trip through an agent or 3rd party website, it will inform you that you will need to check with your airline about travel restrictions and requirements. You are responsible for checking with the airline's website about what is required to board a flight. Do not check with your booking agent nor a 3rd party website as they may not have the most updated nor accurate information. They will not be held responsible for any incorrect/outdated information.

Also note that some airlines will not require a proof of vaccination or PCR/antigen test. However, this does not supersede any country's requirements for entry.

What does my country require?

This will vary by country.

Some countries will require proof of vaccination. Make sure you have one suitable for international travel, or it may get rejected. Some countries will require testing within a specific period of time of travel. Some will require quarantine, so make sure you've allotted enough time in your travel to accommodate.

Some common countries' websites for JETs:
United States
Canada
England
Australia
New Zealand
Philippines
South Africa
Ireland
Jamaica
Singapore
China
Trinidad & Tobago
South Korea
Germany
France (in French language)
Barbados
Russia

Which test (PCR or antigen) and where can I get tested?

  • If you're traveling from Tokyo, the Tokyo Cancer Clinic offers quick turnaround for PCR results, usually within half a day. Plus the website is in English. However, they do not offer antigen tests.
  • The Kinoshita Group is available nationwide and they also offer an antigen test as well as PCR testing. If you're departing from Haneda (HND), Kinoshita also has testing available at the airport for affordable prices. The website is in Japanese.

You will need to refer to your airline and country's requirements if you either need a PCR test or an antigen test. The PCR test, while more accurate takes longer for the results, sometimes they can be returned within 12 hours. The antigen test results however can take only 30-60 minutes. Follow the guidelines to your situation accordingly.

Some countries will require a test within 24 hours. In this case, it's best to take your test nearest to the airport as possible (or some airports will have testing available on location, please search your airport's website for availability).

You may need to have the MySOS app on your smartphone for the results. Please make sure you have it set up before your travel, as it may require additional documents to operate.

Make a reservation for your test as earliest as possible. Spots can fill up very quickly during peak travel seasons, and your airline/destination country will not be able to make an exception if you do not have the requirements for travel.

What do I need to return to Japan?

You will need to get tested before returning to Japan. As long as the test is within 72 hours of your travel, it will be acceptable. Your clinic will need to fill out a valid certificate for a negative result in order for re-entry. Please check with your clinic if they will fill this form out for you before testing.

There are stories of the re-entry process taking 2-4 hours, so please allow yourself enough time upon re-entry.

Please refer to the MHLW website about border measures for more information.

You can also apply for FastTrack using the MySOS app on your phone to speed up re-entry procedures (registering at least 2 weeks before your return flight is highly advisable).

Quarantines

If you cannot provide proof of vaccination, vaccine booster, or have contracted COVID-19 recently, you may be subject to additional prevention measures.

Cost for testing and quarantines and arrangements will fall to the responsibility of the traveler. Research your options before you travel as these costs can be very high.

When to go

First, if you are leaving the country, you must give your school/BOE official notice. Look through 'Leaving the Country' carefully regarding your Travel Insurance. Consult your supervisor for next year's holidays and the best time to take your nenkyu (vacation days). The best times are during exams and school holidays. Beginning your second summer you are eligible for extra days off to be used during the summer vacation. Regular teachers receive 5 days, ALTs sometimes receive 3.

Junior High Calendar

  • August: Summer vacation. Several students practice for the Junior High School Speech Contest. Beginning your second year as an ALT you may receive extra summer nenkyuu.
  • September: School starts. New JETs usually start giving their self-introduction lesson. The speech contest is usually held.
  • October: School festival. Get involved with the preparations! You don’t have to sit in the school office during this time.
  • November: Chorus contest. Students often practice an hour or more for this contest, everyday.
  • December: School continues, testing, etc. Winter vacation begins in late December.
  • January: School begins again in mid-January.
  • February: High level students take high school interview test.
  • March: Third year students practice for graduation and take high school entrance examination. Some teachers will get switched to different schools every year. There are often times good-bye parties in March.
  • April: After a short spring vacation the new school year begins with an opening ceremony. There are often times welcome parties during April.
  • May-June: Students practice for their school's Sports Festival.
  • July: Third grade students’ last chance at glory, the final big tournaments and competitions begin for club activities. Summer vacation begins late July.

High school calendar

  • Late July-late August: Fall term starts.
  • Mid December: Exams.
  • Late December-early January: Winter vacation.
  • Early March: Graduation.
  • Mid March: Exams.
  • Mid May: Exams.
  • Mid July: Exams.

Junior high schools are roughly the same, though holidays may be shorter.

Peak travel times

High seasons to travel in Japan and abroad are during consecutive holidays which are O-Bon week (during this time Japanese people believe that relatives who have passed return to earth) around the second week of August. Next is New Year’s which is towards the end of December and the beginning of January. The last high season holiday is Golden week which is usually towards the end of April and into the first week of May. The rest of the year is much cheaper to travel.

How to go

If you're flying, read about what others have to say about Domestic Airports and International Airports. For a bit more adventure, ferries take more time, but are cheaper. It's rumored that the one from Akita to Kansai features taquitos. Buses can sometimes be a low cost way to go. Using a travel agent may cut costs.

Booking Help

  • Masaru Otani, Galaxy Travel. Works in Osaka and is fluent in English. He handles international travel, has worked with many JETs in the past. He is super-fast with emails. Email at otani.galaxy@mantatsu.co.jp ☎ 06-6252-2400
  • HIS Travel International travel only. There are a couple of agents that speak English and are very friendly and helpful. Located in Akita City, first floor of the Atorion about three blocks north of Akita station. The phone number is (018)836-4831.
  • JTB Travel Agency. There are many JTBs around Akita Prefecture.
  • Lonely Planet Many JETs have Lonely Planet guidebooks so ask around before going and buying one, and check out their website.
  • Yapta This website will track airline ticket prices and email you when prices drop. Good if you are planning in advance and to get an idea of what flights will cost.
  • Kayak Easy to use website for booking flights abroad. Not recommended for domestic flights.

Airport Information

Ground Transportation

Where to go

To find out where to go in Akita, go to the main page and see what each area has to offer using the map. For other places, check out:

Accommodation

Japanese Style

Ryokan: 6,000 to 30,000 yen per person Ryokan are traditional Japanese style inns with Japanese style rooms. A stay at a ryokan typically includes dinner and breakfast and is recommended to all travelers to Japan as it gives you the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese lifestyle.

Minshuku: 4,000 to 10,000 yen per person Minshuku are Japanese style "bed and breakfast" lodgings. They are usually family run, offer Japanese style rooms, and often include one or two meals in the price.

Japanese Apartments and Houses: 10,000 to 50,000 yen per apartment/house An increasingly popular, but still relatively rare type of accommodation (currently mainly available in Tokyo and Kyoto) are entire apartments or houses offered to foreign tourists for short term stays to experience a true everyday lifestyle. On offer are apartments with traditional or modern interior, as well as restored historic houses.

Western Style

Western Style Hotels: 8,000 to 50,000 yen per room Western style hotels, including various international and Japanese hotel chains, can be found across Japan, especially in the larger cities.

Business Hotels: 5,000 to 10,000 yen per room Business hotels offer small, simple Western style rooms with snacks and drinks provided by vending machines. Some business hotel chains, such as Route Inn, APA Hotel, Super Hotel and Toyoko Inn, operate dozens of hotels across Japan.

Pensions: 6,000 to 12,000 yen per person Pensions are comparable to minshuku (see above), except that they offer rooms in Western style rather than in Japanese style. They are typically found in mountainous resort towns and in the countryside.

Unique Lodgings

Capsule Hotels: 3,000 to 4,000 yen per person Mainly targeting a male clientele in need of nothing but a bed, capsule hotels accommodate their guests in small capsules. A television, a shared bathroom and coin lockers are usually provided.

Love Hotels: 6,000 to 12,000 yen per room and overnight stay Not meant as tourist lodgings, love hotels are visited by couples who wish to enjoy some undisturbed time together. Rooms at love hotels can be rented for 2-3 hours during the day or for an overnight stay.

Temple Lodgings: 3,000 to 10,000 yen per person It is possible for tourists to spend the night at some Buddhist temple lodgings (shukubo). A stay often includes two vegetarian meals and the opportunity to join the morning prayers. One of the best places to experience a night at a temple is Mount Koya.

Finding places to stay

Here are some websites for finding hotels and hostels.

Traveling in Japan
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Other Topics Exploring AkitaGetting to Tokyo • Akita JET travel guideWhere in the World is Sugichi?Quirky Japan