Mount Fuji, Japan
Pin This
Open Media Gallery

Mount Fuji, Japan

© / Craig Hanson

Japan Travel Guide

Key Facts

377,915 sq km (145,913 sq miles).


126,476,461 (UN estimate 2020).

Population density

334.62 per sq km (129.2 sq miles).




Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

Emperor Naruhito since 2019.

Head of government

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida since 2021.


100 volts AC throughout Japan but there are two frequencies: 60Hz in the west (Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto), and 50Hz in eastern Japan and Tokyo. Plugs have two flat pins.

From kimono-clad geishas singing traditional songs in Kyoto to manga-crazed teenagers whizzing around Akihabara 'Electric Town' in Tokyo, Japan is a fascinating land of contrasts, a heady mix of tradition and modernity that often bewilders but never bores.

Nowhere in the world blends the old and new quite like Japan. The speed of new technological developments here is matched only by the longevity of its ancient customs and traditions. The country is a pioneer in the fields of design, technology and fashion. You can set your watch by the trains, eat meals that look like works of contemporary art and relieve yourself in the most technologically advanced toilets on the planet (some even talk to you).

Paradoxically, Japan's embrace of the cutting edge is offset by its revered cultural traditions and celebrated historic achievements. Ancient castle ruins, atmospheric Shinto shrines and fascinating festivals are never far away, with cultural highlights including the striking Osaka Castle and Kyoto's iconic Temple of the Golden Pavilion. There's also evidence of Japan's dramatic recent history in cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where nuclear bombs were dropped with devastating consequences during WWII.

If you love nature, you will adore Japan. This is a country swathed in natural beauty. Ski the powdery slopes of Hokkaido, revel in the springtime beauty of the 'sakura' cherry blossoms, frolic in the sun-drenched beaches and turquoise waters of subtropical Okinawa, or climb up the iconic Mount Fuji. Wherever you go, good food is guaranteed – from fresh sushi and sashimi to charcoal-fired meats and sizzling sauces; Japan is a joy for gastronomes.

It is also a land of wild eccentricities, where you can watch men strip at the festival of Hadaka Matsuri or get amorous in one of the country's many short-stay love hotels. These facets might jar somewhat with Japan's polished image, but they help make it one of the most exciting destinations on the planet.

Travel Advice

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Japan set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Japanese Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Japan.  

Passport validity requirements  

If you’re visiting Japan, your passport must be valid for the length of your stay. No additional period of validity is required. You need a blank page for your visa stamp.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You can get a visa on arrival in Japan for tourism or business for up to 90 days. You do not need to apply before you travel.

If you need a multiple-entry visa, you must ask the immigration officials when you arrive. 

If you want to stay longer, you can apply at your nearest immigration office for an extension for another 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the period of the extension.

For long-term stays or to work or study, you must meet the Japanese government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa you need. It is illegal to work in Japan without the correct visa no matter how informal or temporary the work.

If you overstay your permission to remain in Japan, you risk arrest, detention and a heavy fine.

For residency information, see the Japanese Immigration Services Agency website and read about living in Japan.

Vaccine requirements

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Japan guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Japan. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food into Japan 

It is illegal to bring meat products including sausages, bacon and ham to Japan without permission from the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service. Penalties include a heavy fine and prison sentence.

Whale meat is available in Japan but importing it into the UK and EU is illegal. If you import whale meat to the UK, you can get a fine of up to £5,000 and a prison sentence. Customs officers will seize the meat.

Taking money into Japan 

Japan is still a predominantly cash-based society. You may have difficulty using credit and debit cards issued outside Japan. Cirrus, Maestro, Link and Delta cash cards are not widely accepted. Japanese post offices, 7-Eleven stores and JP Post Bank have cash machines that will accept some foreign cards during business hours.

This guide also has safety advice for regions of Japan.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Japan

Terrorist attacks in Japan cannot be ruled out.   

Political situation

Civil disturbance and violent demonstrations are rare in Japan. Occasionally, there are pro-nationalist demonstrations that express hostility towards foreign countries. If you become aware of protests, leave the area immediately.

Japan and the Korean Peninsula

The level of tension and security situation in the Korean Peninsula can change with little notice. Tensions can rise after missile tests by North Korea and during the regular South Korea-US military exercises, which take place throughout the year.

North Korea frequently launches missiles towards Japan as part of missile testing, and is likely to continue doing so.

You should follow the advice of local authorities and check NHK World for the latest information. See advice on missile alerts from the Japanese government.

See also travel advice for South Korea.


Take the same precautions you would at home and get local advice on areas where you might need to be more alert.

Tokyo’s entertainment districts carry a higher risk of crime, particularly at night in and around clubs and bars. Foreign nationals have been targeted for extortion, robbery, assault and sexual assault.

Protecting your belongings

Be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings in sight when travelling. Place valuables in a secure place such as a hotel safe when you can.

Rape and sexual assault

Rape and sexual assault are rare but can happen. Japanese law puts a high burden of proof on victims to demonstrate sexual relations were not consensual and committed through assault, intimidation or force.

Female passengers travelling on commuter trains have experienced inappropriate behaviour. This includes touching and upskirting – taking photos or videos from below when women walk or stand nearby. Police advise you should shout at the perpetrator to attract attention and ask a fellow passenger to call train or station staff.

Drink spiking and credit card fraud

There is a risk of drink spiking and credit card fraud. Victims have described waking up with no memory of what happened and discovering large amounts of money billed to their credit card. You can reduce the risk of spiking by:

  • not accepting drinks from strangers
  • not leaving drinks unattended or asking a trusted friend to keep an eye on your unfinished drink

Card fraudsters may skim or clone bank cards when you pay for food or drink. You may need a police report before your credit card company will consider processing a fraud claim.

Disputes over bar bills

British nationals have been arrested at clubs and bars following disputes with staff and doorpersons over excessive bar bills. Ensure you see a menu with prices before you enter a bar or restaurant. Keep track of what you order and confirm the price of admission to clubs on entry.

Prostitution and street touts

Prostitution and street touts are illegal but commonplace. Do not accompany street touts to bars or clubs. Street touts often encourage people to enter an establishment by misrepresenting the services on offer. You may incur an entry charge so do not enter on the promise of a free drink or to have a look, as you may not be free to leave.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

You must always carry your passport or Japanese residence card with you. The police can arrest you if you cannot show proof of your visa or residence status.

Alcohol bans

In general, drinking alcohol in public places is not illegal. However, there are bans on drinking alcohol in specific areas on certain days, for example New Year’s Eve.

Smoking in public places    

Smoking is illegal on the streets of Tokyo and some other cities. Smoke only in designated areas.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

There is zero tolerance of drug crime and the penalties are severe. British nationals have been arrested and detained for receiving small quantities through the post or if they test positive when the police raid clubs or bars. British nationals convicted of drug trafficking have received sentences ranging from 6 to 17 years and fines of 3 to 4 million yen. Prisoners in Japan are assigned labour or factory work as part of their sentences.

LGBT+ travellers   

Same-sex sexual activity is not illegal, but Japanese law does not protect against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Same-sex marriages are not recognised, but some local authorities issue certificates of recognition that can be used for civil issues, such as hospital visitation rights.

Nichome in Tokyo and Doyamacho in Osaka are well-known LGBT+ areas.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Medication bans

It is illegal to possess or use some common prescription and over-the-counter medicines under Japan’s strictly enforced law on anti-stimulant drugs. Ignorance of the law does not count as a defence. See Health.

Custody disputes  

Japanese family law is very different from UK law. Joint custody of a child after divorce is not a legal option, and access for a non-custodial parent is extremely difficult, especially if you live outside of Japan. Legal custody disputes can be lengthy and expensive, and rulings to return a child or to secure access to a child are often not enforced. See child abduction, custody and parental rights in Japan.

Public behaviour

Most Japanese people are welcoming and friendly, but can be reserved. Loud, boisterous behaviour may receive negative attention. Showing affection in public is less common than in the UK. 


Tattoos have a historical association with organised crime in Japan. While acceptance is increasing, some public facilities do not admit people with tattoos – for example, public swimming pools, hot springs, beaches and some gyms. Other establishments request you cover tattoos while using the facilities.  

Transport risks

Road travel

If you’re planning to drive in Japan, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in the Japan Automobile Federation driving guide.

You’ll need the 1949 version of the international driving permit (IDP) plus your UK driving licence and insurance documents with you in the car. You could be arrested and fined for driving without the correct documents.

You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can use an IDP for one year, regardless of its expiry date. See information on driving and the IDP from the Tokyo police.

If you plan to stay longer than one year, see how to apply for a Japanese driving licence.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience and a minimum age.

There are 2 types of driving insurance available in Japan: compulsory insurance (‘jibaisekihoken’) and voluntary insurance (‘nin’i no jidoshahoken’). The compulsory insurance on its own may be insufficient in cases of personal liability.

Drink-driving is a serious offence in Japan, and the legal limit of alcohol in your system is about a third of the UK limit. If you are found to be over the limit, you may get a fine and possible imprisonment. There are also penalties for allowing someone to drink and drive. The passenger could face arrest if the police suspect they were aware of the driver’s alcohol consumption.

Driving standards

Roads are well maintained, and driving is on the left. Watch out for:

  • pedestrians crossing roads at green lights, especially at junctions
  • cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road and without lights at night
  • other drivers braking suddenly

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to natural disasters in Japan.

Tropical cyclones

In Japan the tropical cyclone (typhoon) season is between June and December, peaking between July and September. The highest risk is in southern parts of the country. Monitor any approaching storms using Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts. Follow the advice of the local authorities and emergency services, including any evacuation orders.

Tropical cyclones in Japan often come with damaging high tides, increasing the risk of landslides and flooding. The dangers increase when an earthquake occurs shortly after a tropical cyclone has saturated an area.

See weather safety tips from the Japan National Tourism Agency.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Japan is in a major earthquake zone. Take note of instructions in hotel rooms and at train stations. Check the safety procedures on your local prefectural website.

Monitor tsunami warnings and earthquake information from the Japan Meteorological Agency.

See earthquake safety tips from the Japan National Tourism Agency. 

Volcanic eruptions

There are several active volcanoes in Japan. Monitor local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Check for volcano warnings from the Japanese Meteorological Agency. See volcano safety tips from the Japan National Tourism Agency.

This section has safety advice for regions of Japan. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.


There is a restricted area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant where only authorised persons can enter. Areas where evacuation orders are ready to be lifted are still subject to some restrictions – for example, visitors are not allowed to stay overnight. Follow local guidance.

The Japanese authorities carry out comprehensive checks to monitor radiation in the area around Fukushima Daiichi and to monitor possible contamination of water and food and produce. They impose strict controls where necessary.

Although the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi site and full clean-up of the surrounding area will take many years, the risks are gradually declining.

Noto Peninsula

A series of earthquakes hit the Noto Peninsula on 1 January, causing a minor tsunami and fires in various parts of Ishikawa Prefecture. Infrastructure damage was extensive, and some transport links remain disrupted. Take care in affected areas and follow local guidance.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 119 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in Japan including:

  • dengue
  • biting insects and ticks

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Japan. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

It is illegal to carry some common prescription and over-the-counter medicines under Japan’s strictly enforced law on anti-stimulant drugs. This includes:

  • Vicks inhalers
  • medicines for allergies and sinus problems
  • cold and flu medication containing pseudoephedrine
  • some over-the-counter painkillers containing codeine

Foreign nationals have been detained and deported for these offences. If you’re travelling with medication, check its status with the Japanese Embassy in the UK.

Healthcare in Japan

Medical facilities in Japan are of a high quality, but treatment is expensive. Expect to pay the whole cost of any treatment you receive.

Medical facilities may check your insurance, which could delay your treatment.

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Japan where some staff will speak English.

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Japan.

COVID-19 healthcare

The Japan National Tourism Organisation has information on COVID-19 for travellers in Japan and a guide to accessing medical facilities in Japan.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Japan

Ambulance: 119

Fire: 119

Police: 110

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Japan and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Tokyo.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating in Japan on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Shochuawamori /></a></div><div class=
Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.