I Finally Travelled To Japan After 2 Years, Here's How I Prepared For It And What Changed


Syahirah Mazlan •  Jul 11, 2022

No matter how many years I’ve spent in the tourism industry, I can never seem to get enough of the thrill of travelling. While Covid was a tough time for everyone, it was especially harder for those working in this line of work - myself included. However, recently travel to Japan has resumed and I was given the opportunity to visit! ? So let me share with you my experience travelling to Japan in 2022, how different it is now and give you some insider tips!

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Allow me to introduce myself! I’m known online as Miza (@cherizmiza on Instagram) and I work as a tour operations manager for a tourism agency. You may be thinking that I’m just the average tour group agent that manages travel itineraries for a living. But for years now, I have been specialising in Muslim-friendly Japan travel. ? I plan very detailed and specially curated travel itineraries for each one of my clients based on their interests, travel habits and personalities so no two client experiences are the same. It definitely wouldn't be an exaggeration to call me passionate for going the extra mile like this! ?

After 2 years of uncertainty due to Covid, I finally had the opportunity to visit Niigata Prefecture in Japan located in the NorthWest of Tokyo for a site recce as part of my work. I’ve been to Japan so many more times than I can count, but even without being in the travel industry, I anticipated that this visit would be slightly different and require much more preparations. ? Since this was a work trip, my flight and accommodation (which unfortunately, I am not allowed to disclose) had already been prepared for me ahead of time so the most important thing was now applying for a visa and getting my Covid-19 PCR test done.

Credit: @cherizmiza on Instagram

Singaporeans didn't need a visa to travel to Japan before but now with the restrictions, you need to have a visa before entering the country in 2022. On top of that, you also need to purchase travel insurance foryour trip! In fact, the Japan travel regulations deem it as mandatory to have travel insurance ready. These two are the documents needed to be verified at the airport so be sure to have them on hand!

P.S. Not sure why you need travel insurance? Find out what it is and what it can do for you in your post-covid travels!

Credit: @cherizmiza on Instagram

I went to the clinic to get the test sorted and fortunately it came back negative. ? However, there was a slight problem. I had to submit my test results to the airlines 72 hours before the departure of the flight but I had submitted it late.. By 3 minutes. ? The airlines were very strict about the submission time of the test results so you’d have to get them in within 72 hours - perhaps a little earlier than that would be fine but definitely not later! Therefore, my test results were rejected by the airline and I was unable to board the flight before retaking the test.

Credit: @cherizmiza on Instagram

While it sounds like a very frustrating situation, there is a (pricey) solution to this. ? You can take a rapid PCR test (that costs about SGD200+) that will give you the results within 2 hours which you can then submit to the airlines to reschedule for the next earliest flight out. Do note that the rescheduling of flights may not be applicable to certain airlines and ticket types, so be sure to get your PCR submitted exactly 72 hours before the departure of your flight to avoid disappointment!

Credit: @cherizmiza on Instagram

The next order of business is to download the MySOS Japan App which had a whole list of questions for you to answer before you can enter the country. I downloaded it early to get the questions out of the way because once you reach the Japan airport, you’ll need to show this app to the staff to be cleared and finally leave the airport. ? The colour code in your app should be blue in order for you to clear the customs so be sure to answer the questions carefully and properly! 

Credit: @cherizmiza on Instagram

It’s actually very important to have a mobile phone when travelling to Japan now because every single person in your friend or family travel group needs to declare their own MySOS Japan App to the airport customs. While children are exempted from this, the eldery are required to have their own declaration through the app. I thought of it to be quite the hassle but it’s an important thing to take note - everyone needs to have a mobile device!

Credit: @cherizmiza on Instagram

I found that having a wifi pod was very helpful once I arrived at the Japan airport. The MySOS Japan App requires wifi and there were so many travellers present that needed to have their app checked for the blue code. ? I didn’t have to worry about potentially laggy app problems because of the airport wifi since I had a wifi pod that I rented from Changi Airport.

When I arrived in Niigata Prefecture, I realised that the Japanese are taking steps to be extra careful when it comes to covid. I stayed in multiple accommodations during my site recce and was pleasantly surprised during my meal times to see one hotel provide an envelope to safekeep your mask so it won’t be lying on the table’s surface as you eat! Another example would be that buffet meals require the guests to wear gloves when handling the food to avoid contamination - which I found very fascinating! ? One of the accommodations even kept their towels in plastic sheets to keep it clean for guests.

There was even a place with Muslim-friendly onsen (hot springs) attached to your room that provides a private experience! So I was really enjoying this trip - both from a traveller’s and tour operation perspective.

P.S Check out this private accomodation in Japan with an onsen and Muslim-friendly meals!

I didn’t have to worry about looking for halal food either as there were multiple Muslim-friendly eateries in the Niigata Prefecture. The prefecture happens to be in a coastal region so there is an abundance of fresh seafood that you can enjoy! ? 

And if you’re wondering if there are any major differences between visiting Japan now as compared to the years before, I’m happy to say that there aren’t many! When I visited the city to go to Issho Ueno in Tokyo for their halal Kobe beef, I noticed that the trains and sidewalks were not as crowded as they used to be (at least not in the shopping and tourist districts). ? It seems like the Japanese are consciously taking steps to social distance from each other. 

The news might say otherwise but the attitude towards us tourists isn't much different either. The locals don’t treat us unfavourably or make us feel unwelcomed, and I was able to thoroughly enjoy my trip. If that’s a concern of yours, don’t worry! As long as you follow the rules and regulations and remain respectful, I don’t think you’ll have any problems during your visit. 

Travelling to Japan in 2022 definitely is a new experience that requires you to be a little bit more mindful and prepared so do take note of the key tips here:

  • Purchase travel insurance
  • Submit your PCR test exactly 72 hours before your flight
  • Have your travel documents in both hard and soft copies
  • Prepare a mobile phone (especially for elderly!)
  • Rent a wifi pod at the airport
  • Download the MySOS App before your trip
  • Keep your masks on
  • Follow local rules and regulations

I LOVE Japan! ? I’ve visited over 43 Prefectures since I began specialising in this industry and every time, I find something unique and even more beautiful than the last! There are definitely some challenges but this destination is quite Muslim-friendly and is great for exploring. 

Don’t forget to SHARE this article with anyone looking to travel to Japan in 2022 and don’t hesitate to reach out to me at @cherizmiza on Instagram to hear more of my experiences! ?