Several government travel advisories, such as for the USA and Australia, have raised their level of advice to "Exercise increased caution" for travelers to Japan due to a heightened risk of sustained local transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). For the most up-to-date information on the number of cases in Japan, check the WHO's Novel coronavirus situation report.
If you are traveling in Japan, monitor your health closely, and practice these extra health and safety precautions to avoid contamination.
Japan is generally safe for visitors. The crime rate is low, but petty theft could happen at crowded tourist attractions. Common sense travel safety advice applies here, just like anywhere else.
Any stares from people on the street or on public transport are of the curious kind, and the people are some of the friendliest you could meet. Although they might tell you to be quiet on the train if you're talking too loud.
While there aren't many dangers to travelers in Japan, there are some things you should know about general safety before your Japanese adventure begins.
Japan is located in a seismically active region of the world and experiences huge earthquakes from time to time. The best thing you can do is be prepared by knowing what to do in an emergency. When you get to your accommodation, become familiar with the evacuation plan and study your room to see what might be the safest place to hide if an earthquake strikes.
Typhoon season runs from May to October each year and is at its peak in August and September. If you are traveling in Japan during this time, stay up to date with weather and become aware of the safest places to go when a warning has been issued. Flight delays and cancellations may affect your plans, so make sure you've got flexibility built into your travel times.
Right now during the coronavirus outbreak, travelers should be extra careful with personal hygiene and aim to keep a safe distance from people (which is difficult in crowded areas).
Japan is a very clean country. The food is cooked well, tap water is safe to drink, and the toilets are clean.
Before you go, see your travel doctor for the best advice on which vaccinations you need.
What most travelers should be careful of is injuring themselves while hiking or enjoying snow sports. Plenty of travelers visit Japan each year to go skiing and snowboarding, but injuring yourself on the slopes can be an expensive exercise. Make sure you buy a travel insurance plan that covers you for your needs and activities.
Despite popular belief, Japan is not immune from organized crime – the Japanese call their version of this organization, the Yakuza. Known for their discipline and their wide-spread presence, they are not to be underestimated.
The Yakuza are known to the Japanese people as corrupt and violent criminals – as labeled by the police – and are not respected in Japan. They are responsible for many different criminal syndicates in Japan, ranging from petty gambling and prostitution circles to having power in the Japanese media, politics, and in the financial sector.
While they have a large presence in Japan, it should be noted that they are unlikely to harm or target tourists. In saying this, you should still exercise the usual amount of caution that you would in your home country.
Don't get lulled into a false sense of security by Japan's reputation as a country with low crime rates.
While Japan has a busy and exciting night scene, particularly in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto which have many cool and quirky bars and clubs, there has been an increase in reported incidents of drink spiking over the past few years.
These occurrences, in some cases, have led to theft and even physical and sexual assault of the victim.
While this is rare, in areas such as the Roppongi district in Tokyo, you should exercise particular caution – don't accept drinks from strangers, and don't leave drinks unattended.
Women traveling alone should be especially careful, as they can be a perfect target for these attacks. It goes without saying: Practicing a bit of common sense and being aware of drink spiking dangers will go a long way.
Pollution is often talked about in other Asian countries, but not often mentioned when discussing travel to Japan.
In recent years, air quality has declined. Some blame air masses originating from countries with high levels of air pollution, like neighboring China, as well as increased vehicle and industrial output.
This is particularly apparent in the winter months, especially on cold, still nights, so it's not advised to go walking outside in smoggy conditions.
While this is not something that most travelers should be concerned about, it should be advised that if you have ongoing respiratory problems, it may pay off to research the areas you are going to.
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