Japan Travel Advice and Safety

Ever dreamt of exploring Japan? The sushi, cherry blossoms, ancient temples – it’s all waiting for you. But before all of that, don’t forget the practical stuff. This guide covers everything from safety to local laws and health tips. And, before you jet off, swing by Crown Currency Exchange for the best rates on the Japanese yen.

Safety

Crime

Japan is generally known for its low crime rate, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely free from petty theft. Bag snatching can occasionally occur at iconic tourist spots, so keep an eye on your belongings at all times.

Nightlife and Potential Risks

Japan’s nightlife is electric, but it does come with its fair share of risks, especially in Tokyo’s lively spots like Kabukicho. So, what could you potentially run into?

  • Drugs and Alcohol: While Japan has a vibrant nightlife, it’s important to be cautious about the consumption of alcohol and drugs. Overindulgence can lead to poor decisions and potential health risks. Drug laws in Japan are also extremely strict.
  • Illegal Venues: Some establishments in nightlife areas may not be licensed or may engage in illegal activities. It’s best to stick to well-known and reputable venues.
  • Scams: Beware of scams often targeting tourists in nightlife areas. These could range from overpriced drinks to false charges on your credit card.
  • Pickpockets: As with any crowded area, there’s always a risk of pickpocketing. Keep your belongings close and be mindful of your surroundings.
  • Lost Belongings: It’s easy to misplace your belongings in a crowded place. Always check your seat before leaving any bar or restaurant.
  • Language Barriers: If you’re not fluent in Japanese, you may face communication challenges, which could lead to misunderstandings or conflicts.
  • Overcrowding: Popular nightlife spots can get packed, especially on weekends. Overcrowding can lead to discomfort and a higher risk of accidents or injuries.

So, how do you keep safe while enjoying Japan’s vibrant nightlife? Here are some tips:

  • Buddy Up: Always go out with a friend or group, especially at night. Having a companion can decrease the chances of becoming a target and provide assistance if something does go awry.
  • Know your drink: Remember, not all alcoholic beverages are created equal. Japan’s drinks can be stronger than what you’re used to, so take it easy and know your limits.
  • Stay Alert: Keep an eye on your drink and food at all times. Don’t accept drinks from strangers due to the risk of drink spiking.
  • Cash Only: Avoid using credit cards in bars and nightclubs to protect yourself from fraudulent charges. Instead, carry enough cash for your night out.
  • Plan Your Transport: Make sure you have a clear plan for getting back to your accommodation. Public transportation in Japan stops relatively early, so consider this when planning your night out.

Navigating the Digital Terrain

While Japan is an absolute treat for the senses, it’s important to remember that in this digital age, threats aren’t always physical. Cyber threats can happen when you’re travelling overseas, and Japan is no exception. Your devices and personal data can be vulnerable, particularly when you connect to Wi-Fi, use public computers, or pair with Bluetooth.

The Social Media Minefield

Social media can be a double-edged sword, especially in places where there are political or social tensions or laws that might seem unconventional by Australian standards. Surprisingly, travellers have been arrested for their social media comments. So, it’s wise to avoid posting about political events.

So, how can you stay cyber safe while soaking up all that Japan has to offer? Here are a few tips:

  • Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi or shared computers. If possible, use a VPN for added security.
  • Disable automatic connectivity on your devices to prevent them from connecting to risky networks.
  • Regularly update your devices and apps to the latest security software.
  • Be mindful of what you share on social media. When in doubt, don’t post

Remember, staying safe isn’t just about physical safety. Being cyber-smart is equally important. Enjoy Japan while staying digitally secure!

Climate and Natural Disasters

Japan is a land of contrasts – from its serene cherry blossoms to the fiery drama of its volcanoes and the quiet whispers of snowfall to the thunderous power of typhoons. But, don’t let that deter you. Here’s how you can stay informed and prepared:

  • 1. Your Safety Net: Start by keeping an emergency kit handy. This should have basic supplies like food, water, first-aid essentials, and a flashlight. Keep your passport safe and dry because, well, it’s your ticket to everything. Always keep a keen ear out for local authorities and emergency services. They’re your best source of real-time information. And if they say evacuate, you evacuate. No questions asked!
  • 2. Be Prepared, Stay Informed: Japan National Tourism Organization is your trusty friend when it comes to disaster preparation. They offer nifty Safety Tips specifically designed for visitors. Staying connected with loved ones back home during any emergency is paramount. So, keep them in the loop.
  • 3. Tuning In To The Right Channels: In the event of an emergency, there are a few English-speaking stations you can rely on. Tune into Tokyo’s Inter FM (76.1 FM) or US Armed Forces (810 AM). NHK also offers a smartphone app for free use. It’ll send you English notifications about typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and even missile warnings!

When Disaster Strikes

If you are in the middle of a disaster, remember that keeping your mind presence is key. Pay attention to what the local authorities are saying, stay informed by keeping tabs on local media and other sources, and don’t forget to check Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System updates.

Typhoons

Typhoon season in Japan runs between May and November, peaking from July to September. But don’t let that dampen your spirits. A little foresight goes a long way in ensuring you’re ready for anything.

Your go-to during this season? Japan Meteorological Agency’s website. It gives you real-time updates on typhoon movements.

Caught in a typhoon? Don’t panic.

  • Stay Indoors: The safest place to be during a typhoon is indoors. If you’re not already at your accommodation, try to take shelter in a substantial building. Avoid smaller structures, which can be more vulnerable to strong winds.
  • Avoid Windows: Winds during a typhoon can be extremely powerful and may break windows. Stay away from windows and doors to avoid being injured by shards of flying glass.
  • Be Prepared to Evacuate: If local authorities advise you to evacuate, do so immediately. Follow the advice given about the safest route, and don’t deviate from it. If you’re staying in a hotel, the staff may be able to assist you with evacuation plans.
  • Check for Updates: Regularly check the Japan Meteorological Agency’s website for real-time updates on the typhoon. This will help you understand the severity of the situation and plan your actions accordingly.
  • Keep Loved Ones Informed: Make sure to stay in contact with friends and family back home. Keeping them informed of your situation will help them feel more at ease, and they can also relay any important information or updates that you may not be able to access.

Earthquakes & Tsunamis

Japan has been blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, but it also experiences seismic activity. Earthquakes are fairly common and can occur without warning.

Tsunamis, or tidal waves, usually follow earthquakes. But they can happen without them, too. If you find yourself in a coastal area during an earthquake, get to high ground immediately. Tsunamis can flood coastal towns and villages in just minutes. The best way to stay safe is to head to higher ground and follow the instructions of local authorities.

In case of an earthquake, stay calm and:

  • Duck, Cover, & Hold On: In the event of an earthquake, drop, cover your head with your hands, and hold on tight until it passes. Crouch in the fetal position or under a sturdy piece of furniture if you can.
  • Check for Damage: When the shaking stops, check your surroundings for any damage and hazards. Make sure to keep an eye out for any gas leaks, downed power lines, or fires that may have started as a result of the quake.
  • Tune into Local Media: Keeping tabs on local media and updates from authorities is essential. This will help you stay up to date with the latest developments, such as evacuation routes, safety tips, and more.
  • Put Together an Emergency Kit: Make sure your supplies are stocked and ready if disaster strikes. It should include food rations, water, first-aid essentials, a flashlight, a whistle, and any necessary medications.

If you’re near the coast, go to higher ground immediately. And keep your loved ones updated about your safety.

Living with Volcanoes

Yes, Japan boasts 110 volcanoes that are active. But that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. Volcanic eruptions are unpredictable, so it’s important to stay in the know and stay prepared.

  • Stay Informed: Make it a habit to keep up with news reports and local media updates on any brewing volcanic activity. This way, you’re always one step ahead of any potential risks and can plan accordingly.
  • Recognise the Red Flags: You can often catch a volcanic eruption in its early stages. Keep an eye out for signs like sulphurous gases, sudden temperature changes, and minor earthquakes or tremors.
  • Listen to the Locals: If evacuation orders are given by local authorities, don’t dilly-dally. Follow their instructions promptly. And always check for updates from official sources before returning to your base.
  • Gear Up: Keep an emergency kit stocked with all the essentials – think food rations, first-aid supplies, medications, and other must-haves. Having this at the ready will help keep those nerves in check if there’s any unexpected volcanic action.
  • Know Your Plan: Familiarise yourself with the emergency plan in your area and know where your local shelter is. This info can usually be found at local government offices or online resources like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Disaster Prevention.

Winter Wonderland Warnings

Winter in Japan can be a stunning spectacle, but bone-chilling temperatures and heavy snowfalls can also bring risks. Much like a bullet train, the weather can take a swift turn, leading to potential hazards like avalanches, road mishaps, ski accidents, and ice falls.

When the temperature drops, avoid wandering alone or deviating from designated trails, especially if you’ve been enjoying Japan’s famous sake. Avalanches aren’t unheard of, and intense snowstorms can cause deep drifts.

Mountain Climbing and Trekking

Climbing and trekking in Japan is exhilarating, but it carries its share of risks. Mount Fuji, for instance, claims several lives each year. The Japanese Emergency Services suggest avoiding the climb from September to June when conditions are most treacherous.

Before you strap on those hiking boots, make sure your travel insurance covers extreme activities like mountain climbing. It’s best to be prepared for any twists and turns that might come your way.

In some northern parts of Japan, bears have been spotted. Now, we all love a good wildlife sighting, but let’s agree – encountering a bear on a trek isn’t quite the same as spotting a deer.

If the Japanese Alps are on your bucket list, here’s what you need to do:

  • Educate Yourself: Read up on local safety advice. This will equip you with valuable knowledge about the terrain, weather conditions, and safety measures.
  • Follow the Rules: Pay attention to warning notices on hiking trails. They’re there for a reason, and that reason is your safety.

Regional Threats

Japan’s geographical location is unique, where regional tensions, particularly North Korea, can escalate unexpectedly. But fear not, as the Japanese Government has taken numerous measures to ensure the safety of its citizens.

The Ripple Effect of Missile Tests

Sometimes, the aftershocks of North Korea’s missile tests affect Japan. Japanese Government officials have noticed a rise in North Korea’s missile activity headed their way. Now and then, they’ve even sent out ‘take shelter’ notifications and alerts in some areas.

Staying Safe Amid Tensions

Amid such tensions, your safety is paramount. Here are some steps to keep in mind:

  • Stay informed: Monitor the situation via trusted resources such as the NHK World and the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat for National Security Affairs and Crisis Management.
  • Study the Civil Protection Portal Site: This will give you a comprehensive overview of the situation. It is also available in English for those who don’t read Japanese.
  • Follow Official Guidance: In the event of a ‘take shelter’ alert, do not panic. Japanese authorities carry out drills regularly, so if you receive an alert, follow the instructions promptly.
  • Contact your Embassy: Ensure that your embassy has up-to-date contact details for you. They provide support to their citizens during situations of political unrest or crisis.
  • Have a Plan: Prepare a personal emergency plan, which includes knowing the nearest safe location, having necessary supplies on hand, and maintaining regular contact with your loved ones to keep them updated about your safety.

Snow Sport Safety

Japan’s snow-capped mountains are a winter sports enthusiast’s dream come true. But whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, safety should always be your top priority. Let’s dive into how you can make the most of your snowy escapades while staying safe.

Skiing Safely in Japan

Here’s your checklist for a safe skiing experience in Japan:

  • Stay Within Limits: Off-piste skiing and snowboarding sound extremely exciting, but they come with their share of risks. The smart move? Keep it within the ski resort boundaries.
  • Get the Right Gear: A lot of travellers end up with avoidable head injuries just because they didn’t gear upright. So when you’re getting ready for your day shredding powder, don’t leave behind your helmet and other protective stuff.
  • Insurance Check: Review your policy at least twice before you carve up the slopes. Make sure snow sports are included in your policy. Believe us, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Listen to the Pros: If this is your first time skiing, hit up a ski school or a ski guide in the area. They will help you get an understanding of the terrain and weather conditions in the region.
  • Stick Together: There’s safety in numbers! Avoid skiing

Each region for skiing in Japan has its own set of rules governed by local ski resorts. And here’s a heads up – unruly behaviour can get you in trouble, even leading to arrest and detention.

Terrorism

In today’s world, terrorism is a global concern. It’s a bit of a downer, but it’s important to discuss. Even though Japan is generally peaceful, it’s always best to stay informed and prepared.

Japan’s Proactive Approach

Japan takes the safety of its residents and visitors seriously. The country has heightened security measures in several key facilities. These include:

  • Public Transport: From the bustling metro systems to the serene ferry rides, Japan’s public transport is monitored closely for any suspicious activities.
  • Public Event Venues: Concerts, festivals, sports events – these venues are all under increased surveillance to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Entry Ports: Airports, seaports, and border crossings are all under heightened security measures to keep unwelcome threats at bay.

While it’s reassuring to know that Japan is proactive about safety, it’s equally important for us, as visitors, to stay alert and vigilant. If you see something odd or suspicious, don’t hesitate to report it to local authorities.

Health

Health Risks

Radioactive Concerns

Remember the earthquake in 2011 that caused a radioactive dilemma surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant? There are still some off-limits zones around the plant. However, levels of radiation in most of Japan, Tokyo included, stick to the ‘safe’ side of the scale.

Stay updated with advice from the Japanese Government and avoid entering restricted areas without permission. If you’re curious about radiation levels in Japan, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has done the homework for you. They’ve checked out the levels and posted the details online.

Insect-Borne Diseases

Japanese encephalitis, an insect-borne disease, can occur in rural areas of Japan. We recommend getting vaccinated before your trip.

To further protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • Put Insect Repellent: It’s a good idea to apply a good-quality insect repellent whenever you’re outdoors, especially during the evening and night.
  • Dress Appropriately: If you’re travelling to rural areas, consider wearing long sleeves, trousers and hats to cover up your skin as much as possible.
  • Stay in Air-Conditioned or Screened Accommodation: When available, opt for accommodations that are air-conditioned or have sufficient insect-proofing.
  • Avoid peak mosquito times: The peak biting times for many mosquito species are during dusk and dawn. If possible, avoid being outside during these times.
  • Get Vaccinated: To further protect yourself, consider getting vaccinated for diseases prevalent in the area, including measles and rubella. Consult with your doctor to understand what vaccinations might be appropriate for your travels.

Medical Care

When you’re exploring a new country like Japan, it’s essential to understand the healthcare landscape. So, let’s dive in and explore what you need to know about medical facilities in Japan.

The Quality of Care

First things first, Japan offers high-standard medical facilities. In major cities, you’ll find plenty of places with professionals who can speak English, but you’ll also find language barriers in more remote areas.

The Cost Factor

Japan’s healthcare is top-tier, no doubt about that. But it can also leave a bit of a dent in your pocket. They might ask you to pay straight away or assure them that you’ll handle the costs before they start the treatment. So, keep this in mind when planning your health and travel insurance.

Diving? No Worries!

If diving is on your adventure list, rest easy! Many hospitals in popular diving areas are equipped with decompression chambers. So, you don’t need to worry too much if you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Medication

Just as any other countries have different customs and traditions, they also have different rules about medications. So, let’s talk about what you need to know when bringing medication into Japan.

Japan’s Medication Rules

Japan is particular about the medications you can bring into the country. This goes for both medications you’re importing and those you’re carrying for your own personal use.

Medications fall into four categories:

  1. General
  2. Stimulants
  3. Psychotropic
  4. Narcotic

Depending on the medication’s classification, name, and quantity, you might need a certificate or permit to bring it into Japan.

Watch Out for Banned Medications

Some medications that are commonly available in Australia are not allowed in Japan. These include:

  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Dexamphetamine

If you’re caught with these, you could be detained by authorities.

For prescribed narcotics like oxycodone, morphine, and codeine, a Narcotic Certificate is required. Without this, your medication could be confiscated upon entry.

Plan Ahead

Before you travel, make sure your meds are cool to bring into Japan and pack enough for your journey. You can find more info on this from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Also, it’s smart to have a copy of your prescription and a note from your personal doctor that states:

  • What the meds are
  • The dosage you need
  • They’re strictly for your use

Mental and Physical Health

Travel is a blast, but don’t let your mental and physical health take a backseat. Here’s how to keep yourself in great shape for your trip.

Health Check Before Travel

Have a medical condition or just want to be extra careful? Get a general check-up before you travel. Here’s what you should do:

  • Visit Your Travel Clinic or Doctor: They’ll give you a check-up and chat about how your travel might impact your health.
  • Get Vaccinated: Your doctor can advise you on vaccinations you might need for your destination. Try to do this about eight weeks prior to your departure.

Reach Out for Help

If you find yourself in a tough spot and need immediate assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre. You can also get in touch with your nearby Australian High Commission, Consulate or Embassy. They can point you to local counselling services and hotlines.

Navigating New Environments

New places, language barriers, and different customs can sometimes stir up your mental health issues or spark new ones. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.

Mental Health Services in Japan

Mental health care in Japan might be a bit different than what you’re used to back home. If you find yourself needing English-speaking counselling services while you’re there, here’s what you can do:

Travel Insurance

Let’s talk travel insurance. It might not be as exciting as planning your itinerary or packing your suitcase, but trust us, it’s just as essential.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Before you leave, make sure you have reliable travel insurance in place. This isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it’s a ‘must-have’. Your policy should take care of all overseas medical costs, including the big one – medical evacuation. Just to be clear, the Australian Government won’t be responsible for these costs. So, make sure you’re covered.

Special Considerations for Pregnant Travellers

If you’re expecting a little one during your travels, double-check your policy. Make sure it’s got your back for all things pregnancy, including the chance of an early arrival. With premature care services costing a hefty bill of over AUD $150,000, this isn’t something you want to ignore. For more information, do check out Smartraveller’s advice for pregnant travellers.

Can’t Get an Insurance? Travel Might Have to Wait.

It’s not the easiest thing to hear, but if insurance isn’t in your budget, then you might need to rethink that travel plan. No matter how tough and healthy you think you are, health surprises don’t discriminate. And without insurance, you might find yourself shelling out a small fortune for medical care upfront.

We can’t stress enough the importance of sizing up different policies and getting the one that fits you like your favourite pair of jeans. Your safety and well-being aren’t just a priority; they’re a must, so don’t forget to get yourself covered!

Confirm Your Coverage

When getting your travel insurance, don’t forget to double-check the coverage you’re paying for. It’s essential that you read the fine print and understand what is and isn’t covered.

For example, some policies may exclude certain activities, such as bungee jumping or whitewater rafting, so make sure these are clearly noted in your policy before you sign up. Also, confirm that your policy covers you for any issues arising from pre-existing medical conditions.

Most importantly, make sure your insurance covers you for the entire duration of your trip. You don’t want to be left stranded if something unexpected happens. It’s risky business, so make sure you do your homework.

Local Laws

Australian Laws

Certain Australian criminal laws still apply to you, even when you’re overseas! Yes, you heard it right. If you break these laws while abroad, you may face prosecution upon your return to Australia.

This means that even if you’re soaking up the sun in Spain or skiing down the slopes in Japan, you’re still obligated to abide by certain Australian laws. It’s kind of like a piece of Australia travelling with you wherever you go.

Dual Citizenship

Fun fact – Japan has a unique perspective on dual citizenship. Yes, it’s true! Japan acknowledges dual nationality, but there’s an interesting twist. The recognition stands only until you hit the big two-zero.

Once you’re done celebrating your 20th birthday, as a dual national, you’re required to have an important choice to make. You’ll need to decide which nationality to hold onto. Think of it as a ‘choose your own adventure’, except in this case, it’s choosing your nationality.

This might seem a bit unusual, but every country has its own rules when it comes to dual citizenship. So, if you’re a double citizen of Japan, it’s something to keep at the forefront of your mind.

Local Law

Respecting Local Laws

When you’re in Australia, you live like an Aussie. The same goes when you’re in Japan – their penalties and local laws apply to you, and some might feel a bit tough compared to what you’re used to back home. It’s always smart to do a little homework on the local laws prior to your departure.

Now, let’s say you land yourself in an unfortunate situation and get jailed or arrested. Without a doubt, Australian Government are full of good people who want to help but try not to rely on them for bail money or legal assistance.

In addition, they cannot interfere in a foreign country’s legal system. So, it’s best to stay away from any trouble and abide by local laws while you’re there.

Just a heads up: In Japan, getting arrested means no phone call privileges and potentially being held for 23 days, even without a formal charge.

Zero Tolerance for Drugs

Japan has a strict stance on drugs. Even the tiniest traces of illegal substances in your system can get you in a whole lot of trouble. And that’s not all. If you’re caught with any amount of drugs, regardless of the quantity, you could face up to 20 years in prison with work and a ¥5 million fine. – and potentially even life imprisonment.

Beware of Misleading Employment Agents

Not all job agents play fair. Some might try to convince foreigners to get employed in Japan even without the right visa or finances. This can put you in a tough spot, making you susceptible to being exploited and even legal action.

Believe it or not, there’ve been cases where Aussies were arrested for working without a valid visa or for overstaying their tourist visas. We can’t stress enough – don’t go to Japan and work without the proper paperwork and permits.

If you’re considering working in Japan, here are a few things to do:

  • Ensure you have the right visa: Before starting any paid work or services in Japan, ensure your visa permits you to do so. Different visas have different conditions, and breaching these can lead to serious consequences.
  • Know your rights: Familiarise yourself with the labour laws and rights in Japan. Knowledge of your entitlements and responsibilities can protect you from potential exploitation.
  • Verify your employer: Do your research and ensure that the company or individual you’re planning to work for is legitimate and reputable. Check reviews, ask for references and do your due diligence to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

Police Powers

Just so you know, in Japan, the local police have the power to stop you in your tracks, ask for ID, and even go through your stuff.

While you’re out and about, they can snatch up certain items like drugs, firearms, knives over 5.5cm (even your handy penknife), anything they think might be stolen, or any other potential weapons. If they get these things on your belongings, chances are you’ll be detained.

If you end up getting arrested, the police can keep you for 23 days or less without charges, even for minor things. They might keep you around for weeks and/or even months during investigations and legal proceedings. Initial interviews can last hours, and often, they’ll write everything down instead of recording it.

According to Japanese law, your right to stay quiet, find a lawyer, and get an interpreter is always respected. But the Japanese police can grill you without having a lawyer around.

Also, English interpreters might not always be up to your standards. So, here’s an English-speaking lawyer in Japan list in case you ever find yourself in a bit of trouble.

Essential Identification

For tourists or short-term business visitors, always have your passport with you. And if you’ve made the leap to move to Japan and live there, you must have the given residence card with you wherever you go.

Alcohol and Driving Laws

In Japan, you’ve got to be 20 or over to drink or buy alcohol. There’s zero tolerance for drinking and driving, so even a tiny bit of alcohol inside your system can get you into trouble. Plus, it’s a no-go to let anyone who’s had a drink take the wheel of the car you’re in.

Other Activities to Avoid

Also, other certain activities are prohibited in Japan:

  • Gambling: While certain forms of gambling, like Pachinko and the lottery, are legal, most others are not. So, it’s best to steer clear of unlawful gambling activities.
  • Graffiti: Graffiti is frowned upon and can land you in hot water with the law. It’s considered as vandalism, a criminal activity.
  • Public Nuisances: Creating public nuisances or participating in violent or disorderly conduct is seen as a criminal activity.
  • Drug Use: As mentioned earlier, Japan takes a hard stance on drug use and possession. This includes even the smallest quantities.
  • Littering: Japan prides itself on its cleanliness. Littering is not just frowned upon but also is penalised.
  • Unauthorised Photography: Taking photos of people without their consent, particularly in private settings, is considered a breach of privacy.
  • Trespassing: Entering someone’s private property without permission can lead to serious legal consequences.
  • Unauthorised Drone Flying: In Japan, flying drones in densely populated areas, at events, near airports, or at heights above 150 meters without permission is prohibited. You could face a hefty fine or imprisonment if you violate these rules.
  • Smoking in Public: In many parts of Japan, smoking in public places is banned. There are designated smoking areas, and it’s crucial to adhere to this to avoid fines.
  • Disrespecting Cultural Norms: Japan is a country that highly values respect and manners. Actions such as speaking loudly on public transport, not queuing in an orderly fashion, or disrespecting sacred sites can be seen as offensive and can potentially lead to reprimands.

Penalties

Japan doesn’t mess around when it comes to serious crimes. For instance, committing something as grave as murder could result in death penalty. And there are other mistakes that can lead to some harsh punishments, like hefty fines, enduring long stretches in jail, or even finding yourself on a one-way flight out of the country.

Travel

Passport

Keeping it Valid and Safe

When it comes to travelling, your passport is your best buddy. But some countries might give you the side-eye if your passport isn’t good for six months beyond your planned departure date. If you’re only making a quick stop, this also applies, so keep your passport updated.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Not all foreign governments or airlines follow this rule consistently. You could end up getting mixed messages from various sources and, in the worst-case scenario, find yourself stuck because your passport isn’t valid for the required six months.

Remember, it’s not the Australian Government setting these rules. So, do yourself a favour and see if the expiry date of your passport is all good for your travel plans. If not, then start the renewal process early to avoid any last-minute drama.

Lost or Stolen Passport? Here’s What to Do

As you may know, your personal passport is an essential travel document that identity fraudsters can use to commit identity theft. Some might even try to deceive you to give it or, worse, steal it. So, it’s best to put it in a secure place. We recommend putting it in your personal bag or keeping it nearby – not the hotel’s safe.

If you lose your passport or it gets stolen, notify Australian Government immediately:

Lost your valuable passport while in Japan? You can retrace your steps, but if you can’t find it, then head to the nearest Australian Embassy as soon as possible. They’ll help you apply for a replacement passport and guide you through the process.

If it goes through a rough laundry cycle or gets caught in a downpour, you’ll likely need a replacement.

‘X’ Gender Identifier on Passports

While Australian passports are in line with international standards for gender identifiers, there are some countries that do not accept passports with the non-binary ‘X’ gender identifier.

Get in touch with your destination’s nearest consulate, embassy, or high commission before you leave Australia. They’ll let you know if ‘X’ is accepted or not and what other requirements might need to be in place for entry.

If they don’t accept it, they might deny entry and require you to get a new passport. So, it’s better to know beforehand and plan accordingly.

Visas and Border Measures

Here’s some good news! As an Australian, you get to visit Japan without a visa for short stays like tourism or business travel. So if you’re eyeing a trip for 90 days or less – maybe as a conference, business trip, tourist, or visiting loved ones – you can skip the whole visa process.

But here’s a catch. Once in Japan, under this visa-free scheme, you can’t simply swap to a different visa. You’d have to leave Japan and then come back with the right visa, like a study, work, or spouse visa.

Looking for more info? Visit Embassy of Japan website. They’ve got all the details, including necessary documents and eligibility. Also, check out the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Health, Labour, and Welfare websites for all entry requirements.

Just passing through Japan? If your next flight takes off from another airport, you’ll need to enter Japan and meet the same entry rules. Always confirm any transit questions to your airline directly so you can avoid unexpected hiccups.

Other Formalities

First off, don’t be surprised when you’re asked to have your photograph and fingerprints taken electronically upon arrival, even if you’re a legal Japanese resident. If you decide to skip this, it could mean no entry. Trust us, you don’t want that. But if you’re under 16 or holding an official or diplomatic visa, you get a free pass on this one.

Planning a long-term stay in Japan? Then, you’ll need to sign up with the Immigration Bureau of Japan prior to moving. They’ll give you a residence card once you show them the right landing permission.

Money

Just a quick note about dealing with yen in Japan – there’s no limit on how much foreign currency you can bring in or take out. But, if you’re carrying over ¥1 million or its equivalent, you need to declare it by the time you enter or leave Japan. And this isn’t just for cash; it applies to any form of currency.

Cash is King in Japan

Speaking of cash, it’s still the preferred payment method in the majority of Japan. Sure, cards are accepted at hotels, department stores, and restaurants – but once you step outside these urban areas, you might find your card almost useless.

And don’t bank on ATMs being your saving grace, either. There are ATMs that do not accept foreign debit or credit cards. So it’s always a good idea to get your hands on enough Yen before you set off to explore Japan – here’s where Crown Currency Exchange can help you out.

Crown Currency Exchange – Your Easy and Hassle-free Way to Get the Best Value for Your Money

We are the #1 foreign exchange in Australia, offering competitive AUD to JPY rates. The best part? We won’t hit you with hidden fees or commissions. By the time you visit one of our branches, rest assured that you’re going home with a smile on your face and your pockets full of Yen.

So, whether you’re in Japan for a few days or a few months, let us take the hassle out of your currency exchange needs. Visit our website to find a branch near you.

Local Travel

Exploring Fukushima and Nearby Places

Got a trip to Fukushima and its nearby places on your bucket list? Just a heads up – because of the earthquake in 2011, there are few no-go zones near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant because of radiation. But don’t worry, as the Japanese Government has all these areas mapped out, so it’s very important to follow their lead.

If you end up needing to crash overnight in these off-limits areas, your best bet is to talk with local authorities, and they will be able to tell you if it’s safe or not. And remember, always stay tuned to local advisories and do as they say.

Person with a Disability

Are you a traveller suffering from a disability? Japan has plenty of resources readily available for you. You’ll have no shortage of choices, from access-friendly establishments to transportation options, even if you’re disabled.

Here are some useful resources to make your trip smoother:

Driving in Japan

Now, if you’re planning to hit the road in Japan, you’ll need a couple of things. Either an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a valid Japanese driver’s license right beside your current Aussie driver’s license. But after a year, you’ll have to switch to a Japanese licence.

Smooth Sailing on the Roads

Ready to hit the road in Japan? The good news is that their roads are top-notch, and the traffic is generally pleasant. But a heads up if you’re dropping by in winter – icy roads and heavy snowfalls could make driving challenging, especially if you’re not accustomed to such weather. So, make sure your ride is prepped with all the winter essentials like chains, snow tyres, and dig-out equipment.

Riding Motorcycles

Thinking about exploring on two wheels? Just a quick check – ensure your insurance has got you covered for the motorbike ride. And remember, safety first – always put your helmet on.

Taxi Rides

Jumping into a cab in Japan? You’re in safe hands. And get this – taxi drivers over there have a neat party trick – they’ll open and close the rear doors from their seat. So, no more awkward reaching for the handle!

Public Transport

When you’re in Japan, you’ll be amazed by their innovative and dependable bus and rail services. It’s a captivating way to immerse yourself in the local vibes and get from A to B without a hitch.

We highly recommend experiencing Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train, when travelling from Tokyo to Hokkaido. Why? It’s the fastest way to get around, and you can travel up to 1280 km in just 4-4.5 hours! But remember, it does come at a price. Book your tickets ahead of time for better deals.

Air Travel

Are you thinking about catching a flight? For details on how safe different flight routes or airlines are, you can visit the Aviation Safety Network to check Japan’s air safety profile.

Local Contacts

Consular Contacts

Before we dive into the contact details, It’s crucial to know when the Australian Government could lend a hand and when it couldn’t while travelling overseas. So, do yourself a favour and give Consular Services Charter a read. It’s like your personal guidebook to knowing where you stand.

Australian Consulate-General, Osaka

If you’re closer to Osaka, the Australian Consulate-General is there to assist. Here are the details:

Address: 16th floor, Twin 21MID Tower, 2-1-61 Shiromi, Chuo-ku

Fax: (+81 6) 6920 4543

Phone: (+81 6) 6941 9448 or (+81 6) 6941 9271

Website: japan.embassy.gov.au/tkyo/location_osaka.html

Australian Embassy, Tokyo

If you’re in Tokyo and need consular assistance, reach out to the Australian Embassy. Here are the details:

Address: 2-1-14 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108 8361

Fax: (+81 3) 5232 4057

Phone: (+81 3) 5232 4111

Email: consular.tokyo@dfat.gov.au

Website: japan.embassy.gov.au

Social Media

24-hour Consular Emergency Centre

Find yourself in an emergency and can’t get through to an embassy? No stress. The 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre is just a call away.

  • If you’re chilling in Australia, it’s 1300 555 135.
  • If you’re abroad, dial +61 2 6261 3305.

Emergencies

Who to Contact

If things get a bit rough, remember you’re not alone. Contact your personal support network, including family, friends, insurance providers, airlines, travel agents, or employers. They’re your first line of support.

Caught in a tight spot like a fire or need medical help? Just dial 119. Japan’s got your back with this quick connect to help.

Need the police? Dial 110 or go to the closest police station. In Tokyo, do we need foreign language-speaking staff, specifically in English? There’s a hotline (3501 0110). Remember to obtain an official police report if you’re reporting a crime. Can’t get one? Reach out to a police or lawyer who speaks English to help you.

In addition, make sure your travel insurance has a round-the-clock emergency number so you can access assistance at any time.

The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. Crown Currency Exchange (CCE) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.

This article may contain hyperlinks to other websites owned or operated by third parties, or references to third party products or services. CCE is not responsible for, and makes no recommendation about, the content or accuracy of any third party website, or for the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article doesn’t imply that CCE endorses the website or third party product/service.

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