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Are you thinking of visiting Japan anytime soon? Concerned about travel safety in Japan?
If there is one place in Asia that has attracted a considerable number of visitors, it is Japan. For years, the Land of the Rising Sun has been included in many individuals’ bucket lists. So, before you pack your bags and head to Japan, read on our ultimate guide for tourists visiting Japan to help you navigate this foreign land, and truly enjoy its magnificence and beauty.
Perhaps one of the pressing concerns for any traveller to a foreign place is their safety and security. After all, it would be hard to move to an unfamiliar place while barely knowing anyone at all. So, we've come up with a little travel safety Japan FAQ for those who want to visit the beautiful Land of the Rising Sun.
Should Travel Safety in Japan Be a Concern?
Japan has a very low crime rate, and it has made the country a safe place for travellers to visit. You would be surprised that Japanese people are one of the friendliest that you can meet, as their traditional teachings include discipline and respect. But you should expect some petty theft that could take place in a populated tourist spot. Always be aware of general safety when travelling in different areas in Japan.
Japan is situated along the ring of fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions notoriously happen. This country has all the information and guidelines posted everywhere that people should understand and follow for their safety. There are also tsunami warnings, which the Japan Meteorological Agency is carefully monitoring. Gadget apps are also available for the public with information on disaster management in Japan.
Since Japan is also home to several active volcanoes, tourists and the locals are advised to monitor closely if there are any volcanic activities in the country.
Tropical cyclones also frequent Japan usually from June to December. These typhoons generally cause the rise of tides, which brings danger to people living in coastal areas. Often, it causes landslides and floods in several areas.
If you are planning to visit Japan, it would be best to avoid the typhoon seasons, which run from May to October and peaks in August and September.
Note, however, that the Japanese government has a highly efficient disaster management team. Make sure, though, to check travel safety advisories in Japan prior to your travel date.
One of the most common travel safety in Japan that concerns most tourists is radiation. Understandably so, as the country had to deal with the aftermath of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant explosion. However, tourists should know that radiation levels in most areas in Japan, including Tokyo, are within normal. Some identified areas have high radiation levels, and they are closed off to the general public.
Japan has dominated the Asia-Pacific ranking in terms of safety. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) 2019 Safe Cities Index, Tokyo is the safest city in the world. The Japanese capital has held that position for three years in a row. Another Japanese city on the list is Osaka. Aside from infrastructure and health safety, the list also factored in the cities' personal and digital security and urban resilience.
It is highly encouraged that a tourist should get travel insurance before going on a trip to Japan. This will give you peace of mind about your medical care when you are far away from home, and it should also cover plane/hotel cancellation, stolen or damaged belongings, and lost luggage (Note, however, that theft is pretty rare in Japan).
Your travel insurance should give you assurance about how you would be able to pay your hospital bills should you end up getting sick as a tourist in Japan. When it comes to medical care costs, Japan can be considered a bargain when compared with the rates of medical care in the U.S. But, they are reasonably similar to hospitals in Australia or Canada, should you end up paying from your own pockets. As a tourist, however, it would still be best to get a travel insurance policy that can cover you should you end up needing long-term care or surgical procedures while in Japan.
Pro Tip: Japan has a national health insurance system that serves the greater population of Japan. Unfortunately, some clinics in Japan would often decline the treatment of foreigners who cannot show proof of insurance.
One of the first things you should know is the travel requirements. Tourists must have a valid passport during the whole duration of their stay and must have a return ticket. They can stay until 90 days visa-free. There are no vaccination requirements, but those who want to vaccinate against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, meningitis, Japanese encephalitis, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), pneumonia, and chickenpox. Currency restriction for entry and exit is equivalent to ¥1,000,000 or above subject to declaration.
Yes, Japan can be a safe city to visit, but it does not mean that tourists should be complacent about their well-being, especially if they choose to travel alone. It is not a perfect country, however, and crimes can still happen. If you are visiting Japan alone, here are some tips for your safety:
Heading to a new place in ungodly hours, mainly if you are alone, is like an invitation for danger. So, to make it easier for you to settle in Japan, make sure to schedule your arrival in the daytime. This way, it would be easier to locate your accommodations and be familiar with the different landmarks and street names that can guide you as you navigate Japan. Before arriving, you can arrange for hotel transfers.
Visiting Japan alone does not mean that you cannot mingle with other travellers. Since doing solo trips have become a trend, there have been several groups that help connect people with other travellers as well. Some activities that you can do include joining tours, taking classes, and enrolling in a language exchange where you can learn Japanese. As much as possible, observe travel etiquette when in Japan.
While visiting Japan, you would notice that people here are honest and reliable. However, this does not mean that you can leave your valuables unattended. Make sure that you always keep your belongings safe, especially your phone. Remember that when you are travelling alone, your phone is your connection to the people you know.
Japan has an exciting market scene. If you aren’t careful enough, you might end up splurging on food and shopping. When visiting Japan, you must keep your finances in check to make sure that you would have a budget for emergencies. Setting aside an emergency credit card is highly advisable.
Japan’s nightlife and party scene are some of the best in Asia. So, it can be tempting to drink, sing, and dance the night away. If you are travelling alone, it is best to stay sober and watch out for any drink spiking.
Perhaps one of the most attractive characteristics of Japan to tourists is its bustling night scene, particularly in Tokyo and Kyoto, which is rife with bars and clubs of different kinds. However, as of late, there has been an increase in incidents of drink spiking. In most cases, these events have resulted in sexual abuse and theft. These occurrences, in some cases, have led to theft and even physical and sexual assault of the victim. Those travelling alone, particularly women, should never accept drinks from strangers and must not leave their drinks unattended.
While Japan is a relatively safe country to visit, they are not entirely immune from any form of organized crimes. One of the most popular organized crime units that Japan is known for is the Yakuza. These people are keen on making their presence felt, and they should not be messed with. Often, these individuals are responsible for many different criminal offences in the country. They are corrupt and can be violent. Note, however, that they would unlikely deal with or do harm to tourists, as it would give them the unwanted attention of the police.
To be safe, make sure that you would not involve yourself in any dealings or transactions that would get the attention of the Yakuza. As a general rule, they are responsible for illegal gambling and prostitution in the country. As a travel safety precaution while in Japan, do not mingle with the Yakuza.
Tourists who end up getting sick while visiting Japan have various resources they can use to get medical help. Some of them are:
These institutions have details of hospitals and medical centres that accept and treat tourists and foreigners in Japan.
The website provides tourists with an exhaustive list of tourist-friendly medical care centres all over the country. You can search by area, language, and medical department. You can also check if the institution accepts credit card payments. It also has a list of Japan Medical Service Accreditation for International Patients (JMIP).
If you have a travel insurance policy, you can contact your provider, and they will direct you to their affiliated medical institutions.
Should you have any emergency, you may call 119 for an ambulance, and they will take you to an emergency hospital.
When you are going for a consult, make sure that you have your complete medical information. You have to remember that you are in a foreign-speaking country, and not all hospitals have a resident interpreter or hospital staff that can converse in English. If you have any serious medical condition, it would be best if you have notes about it. Some of the vital medical details that you can include are:
Japan became one of Asia’s highly developed countries. However, the rapid economic growth has caused its toll on Japan’s environment. Yes, there was a time in Japan’s history that its populace suffered from pollution. But, that is a thing of the past now as Japan emerged as among the least polluted countries in Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
Yes! Visiting Japan with kids is actually a great idea. The place is filled with sites that kids, especially those fond of pop culture, would enjoy.
In Tokyo, teens can go ga-ga when you stay in a hotel that features the giant Godzilla statue. You can also bring them to visit the Ghibli Museum and get to know Miyazaki Hayao. Let them explore Shibuya (crossing!) and Harajuku.
You can bring them to Central Honshū and ski in the Alps. You can also immerse them in a little culture by bringing them to the old farm villages of Takayama.
Hiking and skiing in the Alps, cycling past rice fields, and exploring old farm villages outside Takayama and a fantastic castle in Matsumoto. If skiing is your kid’s thing, then Sapporo & Hokkaidō are great choices. Aside from skiing, they can also enjoy camping, snowboarding, and hiking.
Amusement parks are pretty impressive in Japan. Some of the theme parks you can visit with your kids include:
While visiting Japan, you should follow their rules and regulations. For smoking and drinking, here are some of them:
The whole of Japan is relatively safe for tourists. But we recommend the following cities:
Visiting Japan could be one of the most unforgettable trips that you can have in your life. Make sure to enjoy each day that you are in Japan. Now that you are aware of these travel safety in Japan, make sure to factor them in when you decide to visit this beautiful city. Book your flights early, secure your accommodations accordingly, hire a tour guide, and don't forget to create a list of the things you would want to do and places you'd want to visit while in Japan. Let us know about your experience in our comments section! Should you have any questions, feel free to connect with us.