For Misha Awad, the process of boarding a plane to Japan and then going through immigration brought with it a range of emotions — shock, nervousness, bureaucracy-induced tedium and even amusement.

While moving to a new country is a major step in anyone’s life, Awad’s case had an extra layer to it, as it was also the culmination of a long wait to return to Japan.

A student at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies (IUC) in Yokohama, she and many fellow members of her program were finally able to enter the country in mid-March, having previously had their hopes dashed at the end of November, when their permission to enter Japan was canceled just days before they were supposed to fly due to tightened restrictions following the discovery of the omicron variant.