This Week In Japan #27 (October 9th, 2020)

Japan plans to allow tourists to visit from next April, a new train pass for international residents, and more big news stories!

October 10, 2020

Listen to Our This Week In Japan Podcast here

Hosts of This Week In Japan

Julian Domanski

Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.

Yasuharu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider (Former Ryu Tokyo). Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Japan To Allow International Tourists to Enter the Country from April 2021

A shot of Haneda Airport. Most inbound tourists will likely be passing through here. Image sourced from https://www.visasjapan.com/.

With visa-holding,  foreign residents recently being allowed to return, Japan is now looking at how to open its border to international tourists.

The government is aiming to have a Corona countermeasure in place for tourists by January of next year. After preparation is completed, the government has tentatively said that tourists will be allowed in from April 2021. 

The countermeasures will cover visitors from their arrival until their departure. Upon entering Japan, all tourists will be required to test for Covid-19. If the results are negative, tourists must submit a follow up self-report 14 days later from a health management app. There will be no isolated quarantine. However, downloading the app will be a requirement for all incoming tourists, and it is necessary for obtaining a pre-departure certificate that proves they are coronavirus negative. 

Those that do test positive for Corona will be required to immediately take out private health insurance. 

In order to handle incoming visitors, a separate health care center is also planned to be constructed in order to ease the burden on the Japanese health care system. It will likely be placed in Tokyo as many incoming tourists will be related to the Olympics. As of now, the Olympics are slated to begin from July 23rd regardless of the pandemic situation.

JR Unveils a New Special Rail Pass Targeted for International Residents.

An advertisement for the new rail pass by JR East. Image sourced from https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/.

East Japan Railway Company has unveiled a special new rail pass for international residents that will be available from October 16th. It will allow passengers to thoroughly explore the Tohoku and Kanto regions. All international residents, regardless of visa status, who have a passport issued from another country are eligible to receive the pass. 

The pass will be available until February 28th, 2021 and will allow for unlimited train rides for three consecutive days. This includes bullet trains, JR East lines, and local lines. Available bullet train lines will be those bound for Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Joetsu and Hokuriku. 

This is a specially-made pass to cater for expats in Japan who cannot travel internationally. Sales will begin on October 16th and the price will be 12,000 yen for adults and 6,000 yen for children. 

For this one time rate, it will be possible to travel from Honshu’s northernmost prefecture, Aomori, all the way down to the Shizuoka prefecture south of Tokyo.  

For exact details of what rail lines are included with the pass, please check JR East’s website at https://www.eastjapanrailway.com/pass/.

Japanese Entrepreneur Forces a Local Business to Shut Down After Not Wearing a Mask

Horiemon (47) as shown from his blog. Image sourced from https://weblog.horiemon.com/

Takafumi Horie, more commonly known as Horiemon due to his resemblance to the Japanese character Doraemon, is a well-known entrepreneur. 

Horiemon has recently come under fire for an incident that occured last Saturday. On October 3rd, Horiemon and some colleagues entered a local gyoza restaurant in Hiroshima Prefecture. One of his friends was not wearing a mask, and when the owner of the restaurant requested that he wear a mask to receive service, Horiemon took offense.

He wrote about the restaurant on Social Media, saying that people were Corona crazy. While the restaurant name was not explicitly stated, it was written in a way that it could be easily guessed. After the post was made, the owner soon issued a notice of closure, citing a wave of backlash from Horiemon’s many supporters via phone call and a sudden drop in health from both him and his wife as reasons. The shop owner also responded with an image of Horiemon visiting his shop and posted several counterarguments.

Since the shop owner and his wife have fallen ill, many online are finding Horiemon’s abuse of status hypocritical, as he himself requires masks at his public events.

A Glitch in A Restaurant’s System Allows Customers to Order An Order for 10 Yen

Cafe Gusto is a popular restaurant chain scattered all over Japan. Image sourced from SKYLARK CO., LTD.

Due to a recent glitch in the ordering system of the family restaurant chain Gusto, customers were able to place orders for extremely low prices. Orders at Gusto are placed by the customer on a touchscreen pad. The affected menu item was limited to the mini green onion tuna rice bowl, which usually sells for 449 yen plus tax. 

On the screen, if customers repeatedly pushed the “small rice portion,” the price would be lowered by 20 yen each time. Using this method, It could be reduced down to a mere 10 yen.

Information about the bug in the system was leaked onto Twitter and spread quickly. Many users were quick to brag that they had successfully tried it out. Others pointed out that even without trying to cheat the system, there could be people who are accidentally pushing the button twice and receiving extra discounts. 

The following day, a representative of the company made an announcement that the bug had been fixed.

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

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