The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the travel industry hard around the world, and Japan is no exception. Most international travel to and around Japan remains on hold, but domestic tourism has slowly picked up, with locals venturing out to explore their own backyard. View this post on Instagram Beautiful Japan!⠀⠀ Tag a Friend ️⠀⠀ Location: Tokyo, Japan⠀ .⠀⠀ Follow Us @japan.travel.guide for more ⛩.⠀⠀ Follow Us @japan.travel.guide for more .⠀⠀ .⠀⠀ Credit goes to the respected photographer. A post shared by Japan Travel Guide (@japan.travel.guide) on Mar 12, 2019 at 8:10am PDT The country has been focusing on planning ahead in the hopes of opening up more by next spring. There’s the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to look forward to, for instance, and some new hotels are opening in anticipation of tourism’s eventual return to something like the record levels of pre-pandemic times. Why are so many new hotels opening amid Covid-19 – and are they safe? Currently, most international travel to and from Japan is suspended unless you are a Japanese national or hold resident status in the country. As detailed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan still has a ban on visitors from over 150 countries. View this post on Instagram Beautiful Japan!⠀⠀ Tag a Friend ️⠀⠀ Location: Japan⠀ .⠀⠀ Follow Us @japan.travel.guide for more ⛩.⠀⠀ Follow Us @japan.travel.guide for more .⠀⠀ .⠀⠀ Credit goes to the respected photographer. A post shared by Japan Travel Guide (@japan.travel.guide) on Mar 7, 2019 at 7:10am PST Slowly though, Japan has started relaxing its borders, and even implementing travel bubbles. Japan started a bubble in early September targeting select countries in Asia including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Taiwan, whose citizens are now allowed reciprocal travel if they are long-term residents of Japan. Singapore and South Korea have also been allowed selective travel to the country but that bubble is mainly focused on short-term business travellers. On November 1, the bubble was extended to include business travellers from Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Macau and New Zealand too. Brazil is now open to tourism – but how safe is it? Travellers visiting Japan still need to submit a negative Covid-19 test certificate upon arrival. They may be subject to a further test at the arrival airport and/or need to follow a two-week quarantine period. As the situation is somewhat fluid, it is advisable to consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the latest information on their Residence Track and Business Track restrictions and measures. View this post on Instagram Beautiful Japan!⠀⠀ Tag a Friend ️⠀⠀ Location: Himeji Castle, Japan⠀ .⠀⠀ Follow Us @japan.travel.guide for more ⛩.⠀⠀ Follow Us @japan.travel.guide for more .⠀⠀ .⠀⠀ Credit goes to the respected photographer. A post shared by Japan Travel Guide (@japan.travel.guide) on Mar 16, 2019 at 1:38am PDT Although international travel is heavily restricted, domestic tourism has been actively boosted over the past few months with a Go To travel campaign, encouraging locals to get out and explore, and offering hotel, Shinkansen (bullet train) and food discounts and packages. The Japanese government has allotted 1.35 trillion yen (US$12.9 billion) towards the campaign which covered over 25 million domestic overnight stays in September and October alone. They say they may extend the promotional period into the new year if there’s still money left. Although this has been a useful temporary solution, it’s unlikely to be enough to keep the industry afloat if borders are still unable to open to international tourists by next year. View this post on Instagram #shinkansen #doctoryellow #cosmos #T5編成 #ドクターイエロー #コスモス #秋桜 先日のこだま検上り、空がペケだったので、コスモスをたっぷり入れて・・・ もう少し下から撮りたかったのですが、現着が遅く後ろに入れてもらいました。 現地に展開された皆様、お疲れ様でした！ A post shared by 仙人 (@codename_sennin) on Oct 4, 2020 at 1:03pm PDT Aside from the subsidy campaign, JR (Japan Railways) – the country’s biggest Shinkansen operator, has been offering usually pricey bullet train tickets at steep discounts. With domestic tourism picking up over the last few months, locals have even found it necessary to book popular destinations well in advance to make sure they can secure dates. Despite these uncertain times, there are still hoteliers in Japan going ahead with openings. In particular, the Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto launched on November 3, becoming the first flagship luxury property under the Mitsui Group who run multiple resorts and hotels across the country. The stunning resort sits on the site of a former Mitsui family residence which has been in the family for over 250 years. It is also the first city centre luxury hotel that features an all-natural onsen hot spring, and is conveniently located across from Nijo Castle, one of Kyoto’s designated Unesco World Heritage Sites. Although the hotel is entirely a new build, guests will find traditional elements throughout as reminders of the former residence, including the Kajiimiya Gate which sits at the entrance, and decorative stones and trees saved from across the site which are now used in a Japanese garden at the heart of the hotel. 6 best luxury hotel beds to try after the coronavirus pandemic is over Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto has a total of 161 guest rooms, 22 of which are suites including the hotel’s two unique onsen suites and a presidential suite that looks over Nijo Castle. There are two restaurants at the hotel including Toki, helmed by Tetsuya Asano, who has brought a whole new approach to Japanese food with his French-style techniques, and Forni, an Italian restaurant with a bar and terrace. The hotel’s design is a team effort, with three Japanese designers working with André Fu, the Hong Kong-based interior designer, who led the design of the lobby and guest rooms. Manabu Kusui, general manager shares that the hotel went with Fu to add a five-star international touch as the property wanted to distinguish itself from a typical Japanese ryokan, or traditional guest house. Fu’s touch can be seen in the details – from the patterns and colours of amenities placed in guest rooms, to the curated artworks and intimate spaces in the lobby. How 8 luxury hotels are helping out during the coronavirus outbreak While the hotel is opening at a difficult time, Kusui is cautiously optimistic, saying that “domestic tourism is OK for now, and Kyoto isn’t too busy. However, we cannot predict what will happen”. He also adds that first and foremost “[his] goal is to be recognised by the locals. We want them to know that we are here in Kyoto and that we love Kyoto”. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .