Like most countries around the world, the pandemic continues to have a significant effect on Japan. The nation weathered a fourth wave of COVID-19 earlier this year, which has put a strain on the health system — a problem further compounded by a slow vaccination rollout.

Since March 2020, Japan has implemented a strict border policy to curb the spread of the coronavirus, even denying entry to long-term and permanent residents (while still allowing Japanese citizens to leave and enter freely) at first. These constantly evolving regulations posed a problem for all non-Japanese trying to enter the country, and continue to impact entry for international students and tourists. Meanwhile, many international residents in Japan remain wary of airline travel, case numbers abroad and the financial risks of getting stuck overseas.

Still, the wanderlust is getting hard to ignore and people are now considering international travel to visit family and friends (or even to get a vaccination). There’s lots to keep in mind when planning a trip — both when leaving and returning to Japan.