A new update on the tourist situation in Japan (posted Sept 24th).
News released yesterday (Sept 22nd) states that Japan will fully reopen to independent travel from October 11th. This will allow visitors to free travel to destinations with out a guide and to freely book their own lodgings. Visitors will still need to show either proof of 3 vaccinations or a negative COVID test before departure. Hopefully this news means that winter tourism in Japan will be back on this year.
Starting from the 7th of September the daily entry cap will rise from 20,000 to 50,000. From this date those travelers with at least three vaccinations will no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test result, only proof of their three shots. Tourists will no longer need to travel on tours with a guide. But it seems they will still need to book through a tour agency. This means that individual and independent travel is not possible. Basically making this rise in the daily entry cap meaningless. Participants of the new non-guided tours still need to adhere to the itineraries set by the travel agents. This is my current understanding of the situation. Any progress is good news I guess but it seems we are still far off getting back to opening up and allowing free independent travel for tourists. Hopefully in November we will see further moves to relax the current policy in time for winter tourism.