It's very hard for people who temporarily left Japan and who aren't citizens to get back in right now. The people who even stand a chance at the moment are dependents and spouses of citizens or PRs, and people with long-term residence visas, which includes some workers and students with long-term visas. Others? You'll have to wait a while, at least until the end of February. Tourists, and new business folks, students, workers and casual visitors? Nobody knows when they'll be allowed in.
Depending on rules that change pretty often, people are required to quarantine for varying periods under varying circumstances. If you or someone on your plane tests positive, that's going to change, too. Everyone is subject to testing requirements, must fill out reams of government forms and is sent to various hotels -- not their choice -- somewhere kind of near the airport where they landed, again, not their choice, for quarantine. So far, this lodging, including food, is free to them.
When released, they are returned to the airport where they entered and get to figure out how to get home from there without using public transportation. Rental cars, a few enterprising car services, and friends and family members dropping off cars are part of the solutions clever people have developed.
While vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher food are supposed to be available on the house, this isn't always true. Uber Eats (which I have found to be useless for vegans; absolutely nothing at all. Maybe a Margarita Pizza for vegetarians depending on where you are in town) and Amazon Fresh (never tried them) are touted as you-pay possibilities but those aren't always available. Depends on where you are and what hotel. That's entirely a matter of luck.
Sometimes people get lucky with some quite fabulous hotels. Everybody gets rather ordinary room-temperature bento boxes three times a day. Many inventive methods for heating them are scattered across the internet. This can be a real hardship for people who really do need special food (veg/veg, halal, kosher) and cannot get it. It can also be a hardship for people trying to feed infants and young children who cannot eat standard food, though, again, baby food is supposed to be available and that, at least, usually is.
There's a business hotel chain called Toyoko Inn that I stay in fairly often. They are everywhere. They are usually convenient to important stations, they are fanatically clean, kept in good shape and are inexpensive. They also give you points towards free nights. The rooms are small. The views aren't superb. There won't be a beach, a pool, a resort or a hot spring. They use economies of scale, uniformity of design, carpet squares to keep the carpets looking good, the mattresses are on the firm side, but kept new, the pillows are different depending on the side you select, and, again, new. They are not pretentious at all, which I like, and do exactly what they promise to do, providing everything you need for a comfortable, if not luxurious, stay.
While breakfast is included, it's not resort-fantastic. It's edible, fancier than you'd get at home (even with a parent cooking), and you can go down to get it and take it to your room to eat it, a new option since CORONA. And, again, everything is sparkling clean and COVID hygienic. I've always maintained that if I can tell the difference between a $50 hotel room and a $500 one, and I am traveling, I am not having enough fun, so mostly, when I am traveling, Toyoko Inn often suits me just fine.
Various internet groups talk about their return experiences. Mostly, they gripe about the food. Yeah, well, I remember those room-temperature bentos, and so do many of you. They're fine for a short period. If I could get a veg one, I'd be happy enough. It wouldn't kill me for a couple of weeks or less, though it might get boring. If I couldn't get veg, I'd be griping, too because I couldn't eat much of it, since non-veg food makes me actually sick, whether I know it's there or not, in any quantity no matter how small, and I hate the waste of food.
While I've been in Okinawa, I've been staying at a Toyoko Inn by the Prefectural Museum, convenient for me, and an easy way for me to use up some of the free nights I have earned, there being one that is the most convenient car and cab-free alternative for Taisekiji right now. It works just fine for me. Of course, I get to go out every day, but still, if I have a room to myself and I have a computer, it's great and I would be quite content here even if I were quarantined. But...I'm not.
World Heritage Site, Nakijin Castle near Motobu. Religious site; religion was controlled by women in the Ryukyu Kingdom. I took a tour. If I had used my new driver's license to rent a car, I wouldn't have seen as many sights, and wouldn't have made new friends.
The Sakura are starting to come out here.
A new friend, Naoko, with her buddy, a whale shark, at Churami Aquarium. It kept swimming towards her. She's a good photographer and I look forward to her pictures. Sharks and corals are the specialties of this aquarium. They're making progress on the restoration of coral reefs.
This was a fun beach, a side trip across several small islands through farming country. Sugar cane, pineapples, mangoes, mangroves.
But now these groups have gone too far! They're dissing my Toyoko Inns! The rooms are too small, they say! The toilet isn't separate from the tub (called a unit bath in Japan; called "home" in the USA). The mattress is too firm! You only get one pillow per person! There isn't a view! Oh, the horrors!
Tomorrow morning, far too early and long before dawn, I'm out of here, back on boats (and seriously tiny cabins) for the return trip to Tokyo. I've seen a lot of Okinawa Prefecture and learned a lot of history. I'm not sure what to make of it yet and I have no idea how this is going to turn into a book. Okinawa reminds me of Hawaii in many ways besides latitude, sugar cane and pineapple. Fabulous resorts. Great tourist attractions. World Heritage Sites. Music, dance, textile arts, art, a legacy of intelligence and a trade empire. A military history that makes me wince. Areas catering to young military people that don't interest me. Areas catering to rich visitors from all over Asia in search of designer labels at a discount, ditto. It will all sink in. Maybe some of it on the way back.
But for now, I've been very happy with my little room on a weekly plan at this convenient Toyoko Inn. I'll be working on the next book, The Oni's Shamisen, when I get home while this digests, but it's been a good trip. Yes, it will give us a new book.