Many people consider Japan as their most favorite country in the world. They fell in love because of the rich and fascinating culture, the long and eventful history, the incredible ancient structures, the stunning and picturesque natural views, the delicious local cuisines, and the warm and friendly locals. Usually, after their first trip to the country, they cannot wait to go back to see more of the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions that they missed out on on their previous trips.
If you are also a huge fan of Japan and are visiting the country for the first time soon, you should not only take care of your plane tickets, accommodation reservations, and restaurant and attraction tickets in advance, but you also have to educate yourself on the important laws that foreigners should be familiar with to not get into trouble while in the country. You do not want to have to deal with the police for something very trivial just because you did not bother to learn some common laws in Japan prior to trip, do you?
Below are examples of laws in Japan that every tourist visiting should know:
You should always have your passport with you when going out.
In Japan, it is not uncommon for the police to ask a local or a foreigner for identification anytime, anywhere. This is done randomly, though, in a country of more than 126 million people, so there is very little chance that you will find yourself in that situation.
But, if you ever get stopped by the authorities while you are exploring the historic district of Asakusa in Tokyo or while walking to the train station to catch the Shinkansen to Osaka, you will want to be ready. You must have a valid ID with you, specifically your passport, to be able to get out of there as soon as possible. If you do not have your passport with you because you left it at your hotel, the police might take you to the police station to be questioned. That’s just unnecessary stress that you could have avoided if you only knew about this law beforehand.
Thus, remember to take your passport with you whenever you go out, whether if you are only going to buy something at the convenience store across the street or if you are sightseeing around town. Keep it in a secure place, like a small waterproof purse, to not lose it or protect it from damage.
You are not allowed to work on a tourist visa.
Because you are on a tourist visa while in Japan, you should only do activities that tourists do. You should be going from one shrine or temple to another, having fun at theme parks, dining at izakaya and feasting on sushi, ramen, soba, yakiniku, and other popular Japanese dishes, and shopping for souvenirs to take home.
If you engage in any kind of work, you are violating Japanese law and will be fined and banned. Be careful about job offers you find online, such as hostels offering free lodging and accommodations if you provide a few hours of cleaning work, or schools that tell you to that it is okay start teaching even if your work visa is still being processed. You have to have the appropriate visa, which is not your tourist visa, to partake in such activities.
If you want to work in Japan, you should follow the steps on how to acquire a valid work visa. Get in touch with your country’s Japanese consulate for more information on how to proceed.
You should not smoke in public places.
If you are a smoker, you should be aware of Japan’s smoking laws. You cannot just smoke wherever and whenever you want. If you get caught, you will be slapped a fine that can go as high as 20,000 yen.
Thus, look for designated smoking areas. Around the country, you can find these places inside and outside train stations, near office buildings, in parks, and others. At many restaurants, you can request for a table in the smoking area to be able to enjoy a puff or two while you are dining. On the Shinkansen, you can find smoking areas in some cars, too.
You should obey traffic rules.
If you are driving in Japan, you should always abide by the rules of the road. Stop when the light is red, and go once it turns green. Do not even attempt to beat the red light, go over the speed limit, park in a non-parking area, drive without a valid driver’s license, or drive if you are drunk. You will be fined a pretty hefty amount that ranges from 7,000 yen to 35,000 yen.
Negligence of the law will not only cost you so much money, but it will also put yourself and the people and things around you in danger. Thus, before thinking of renting a car to drive around Japan, learn their traffic rules and regulations, and observe proper precaution always.
You cannot drink alcohol if you are under 20 years old.
20 is the legal drinking age in Japan. Thus, if you are younger than that, you have to delay your bar hopping and pub crawling plans until you turn 20.
Some underage tourists have probably gotten away with it before, due to some establishments not really doing ID checks or because they look mature for their age, but it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are caught, the police will enter your information into a database and have a record of your law breaking. In the future, if you engage in any transactions that involve Japan, such as applying for a work visa, it may come up and affect your chances.