Japan travel advice
Latest updates: Health – editorial update
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- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
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Japan - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Japan.
Safety and security
Fukushima nuclear power plant and surrounding area
Following the 2011 incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities have placed restrictions, including travel and overnight stay bans, on the plant's surrounding area due to the risk of exposure to radiation. Restricted areas are clearly identified.
Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Assistance of Residents Affected by the Nuclear Incidents – Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Tensions on Korean Peninsula
The regional security situation on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests. Military exercises and activities may also escalate tension.
- Remain vigilant
- Monitor developments to stay informed on the current situation
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, including the Cabinet Secretariat's guidance on civil protection
Crime against foreigners is generally low. However, petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs from time to time. Be cautious in entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan, especially in these four in Tokyo:
If you are the victim of a crime, file a police report at the closest station of the incident. Occasionally, local police may be hesitant to prepare a report for foreigners. If this happens, contact the Embassy of Canada to Japan for assistance.
An increasing number of travellers report having been used as unwitting drug couriers.
Penalties for drug-related criminal activities are severe. Even unsuspecting individuals transporting packages containing narcotics can be criminally charged and face long jail sentences.
Be wary of individuals, even those you know, who ask you to carry a package to Japan on their behalf.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
There are reports of incidents where staff, or other customers at bars and nightclubs, have mixed drugs and copious amounts of alcohol into drinks of unsuspecting clients. These incidents are particularly frequent in the districts of Kabukicho and Roppongi in Tokyo. The intend is usually to defraud, overcharge services, rob or assault the person.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. There have been incidents of overcharging at bars and clubs. Disputes over overcharging have led to violence.
Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements and contact your financial institution as soon as possible if irregularities
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Inappropriate physical contact may occur on busy subways and trains. There are women-only train cars during rush hour on some subway and train lines.
Road conditions and road safety are generally good throughout the country. However, roads may be narrow.
Japan Road Traffic Information Center (in Japanese)
Taxis are generally safe.
- Use only officially marked taxis
- Negotiate fares in advance, or insist that the driver use the meter, as you may be overcharged
- Have your destination written in Japanese as drivers may not understand English
Taxis in Japan – Japan National Tourism Organization
Train and subway
Travel by subway and train is quick and convenient. Signs are usually in Japanese but signage in English is becoming more common, especially in larger cities and at tourist destinations.
General safety information
Emergency information and advice for tourists is available from the Japan National Tourism Organization.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Japanese authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Japan. If you plan to travel to other countries in the region, check passport validity requirements for the countries you plan to visit.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays up to a maximum of 90 days
Business visa: required
Work visa: required
Student visa: required
You can’t apply for a business, work or student visa if you have already entered Japan as a tourist.
Business travellers need a visa if they are to receive compensation in addition to their regular salary for work carried out while in Japan.
Overstaying the 90-day, tourist visa-free limit or any other visa time limit is a criminal offence. If you overstay, you may be subject to fines and deportation, and you may be barred from re-entry to Japan.
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket, confirmed accommodations arrangements and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Japanese officials will photograph and fingerprint visitors upon arrival. Exceptions may apply.
Japanese regulations require that visiting foreigners give detailed information when checking in at hotels or other lodging facilities.
Foreigners must also allow their passports to be photocopied.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a risk in some areas of this destination. It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or occasionally when unpasteurized milk products are consumed.
Travellers to areas where TBE is found may be at higher risk during April to November, and the risk is highest for people who hike or camp in forested areas.
Protect yourself from tick bites. The vaccine is not available in Canada. It may be available in the destination you are travelling to.
In this destination, rabies may be present in some wildlife species, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who will be working directly with wildlife.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
The flu occurs worldwide.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to April.
- In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and October.
- In the tropics, there is flu activity year round.
The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.
The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
Medical services and facilities
Health care is very good. Service is available throughout the country.
Services in English could be limited, especially in rural areas. The cost of health-care services is similar to Canada. As a foreigner, you will likely have to pay in advance or provide a document proving that the bill will be paid prior to discharge.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Health insurance for foreign workers
As a Canadian working in Japan, you must have medical and health services coverage for the duration of your stay. If not provided by your Japanese employer, you must subscribe to the national health insurance plan.
If you need to consult medical professionals, the following organizations can refer you to medical facilities with English and other foreign language-speaking staff:
- Japan National Tourism Organization
- Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Centre (in Japanese)
- AMDA International Medical Information Center
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
In many cases, arrested or detained suspects are denied oral or written communication with anyone other than their lawyer or a Canadian consular representative for an extended period.
If you are detained, even for a minor offence, you may be held without charge for up to 23 days. Police officers may begin their initial questioning before you see a lawyer. You could also be in detention for weeks or months during the investigation and legal proceedings.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Japan has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to drugs, including recreational drugs and cannabis. Severe penalties are imposed for the possession of even a small quantity.
Certain medications are banned in Japan, including:
You may bring a one-month supply of prescription medication or a two-month supply of non-prescription medication into Japan, as long as the medication does not contain narcotics (including codeine). You cannot bring banned substances with you, even with a prescription.
You must have a doctor’s note that states your full name, address, the reason for use, and dosage, along with your prescribed medication. Local authorities may also request a detailed listing of the contents of the medication.
If you wish to bring in larger supplies of medication or bring in prescription medication that contains narcotics, you must apply in advance for import certification. You should do so several months prior to arrival.
Bringing medicines for personal use into Japan – Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Japanese law doesn't prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely socially accepted.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Japan.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Japan, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
If you acquire 2 or more citizenships at birth, you can keep them all, including Japanese citizenship, until the age of 18. At 18, you must choose between your Japanese citizenship or other citizenships within a 2-year period.
Japanese family law is different from Canadian family law.
In Japan, joint custody of a child after separation is not a legal option if one of the parents is a Japanese national. As a result, access rights for a non-custodial parent can be limited, if granted.
If you are involved in a custody or other family law dispute in Japan, consult a Japanese family lawyer.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Japan.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Japan, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Japanese court.
If you are in this situation:
- act as quickly as you can
- contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Japan to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
You must carry your passport or residence card at all times.
A photocopy will not satisfy authorities. Police officers in Japan may ask for your identification documents at any time.
If you fail to do so, you could face arrest or detention.
Working in Japan
Working without an appropriate visa is illegal. Offenders may be subject to imprisonment, a fine and deportation.
If you are considering employment offers in Japan, contact the Japanese embassy or consulate nearest you before coming to Japan.
You should carefully review a contract to teach English before you sign. There have been incidents of employers not adhering to their contractual obligations.
Ensure that all terms and conditions of employment are clearly stated in the contract and that you meet all requirements before accepting an offer.
You may be denied entry to public establishments such as swimming pools, hot springs, beaches and some gyms if you have a tattoo.
Some establishments may ask that you cover your tattoo.
Traffic drives on the left.
You must carry an international driving permit along with your Canadian licence, or a Japanese driver’s licence.
You must also obtain Japanese insurance. There are two types of driving insurance available:
- compulsory insurance, which is basic government-mandated insurance covering your legal liability
- voluntary insurance, obtained on your own from a private company and designed for your needs
Should you have an accident, compulsory insurance may not be sufficient.
Drinking and driving
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe.
Under Japanese law, it’s forbidden to:
- drive if you have been drinking
- lend a car to someone who has been drinking
- serve alcohol to someone who has to drive
If you are a passenger in a car whose driver is under the influence of alcohol, you both are subject to prosecution.
The currency of Japan is the yen (JPY).
Credit cards are accepted in most major hotels and restaurants, but Japan is a predominantly cash-based society.
ATMs are widely available, but many don’t accept foreign debit cards.
Natural disasters and climate
Earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture
On January 1, 2024, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula in northern Ishikawa Prefecture. Landslides occurred and local infrastructure and buildings were damaged.
Running water and electricity remain unavailable in some areas, and local transportation services may be disrupted.
If you must travel in the affected areas:
- exercise caution
- monitor local media for updates on the situation
Earthquake information – Japan Meteorological Agency
Typhoons usually occur between June and October. During this period, even small storms can quickly develop into major typhoons. Southern areas, including Okinawa and surrounding islands, are more vulnerable.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to Japan during the typhoon season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Japan Meteorological Agency
Japan is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to a multitude of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, volcanic eruptions. Strong earthquakes occur, as well as tsunamis.
Each year, Japan experiences thousands of earthquakes of varying magnitudes, some triggering tsunamis. Deaths, injuries and significant damage may occur.
Earthquakes - Government of Canada
Japan is prone to tsunamis. A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.
Tsunami alerts - U.S. Tsunami Warning System
There are a number of active volcanoes. The Japan Meteorological Agency lists active volcanoes and associated warnings.
If you are travelling near a volcano, check for the latest activity and warnings. Always follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Volcanic alert levels and warnings - Japan Meteorological Agency
Snowstorms occur in western Honshu and Hokkaido from December to March.
Avalanches can occur in mountainous areas, including at ski resorts. These can cause power disruptions, make roads impassable and limit the ability of responders to reach these areas in case of emergency.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 110
- medical assistance: 119
- firefighters: 119
Tokyo - Embassy of Canada
Fukuoka - Honorary consul of Canada
Hiroshima - Honorary consul of Canada
Nagoya - Consulate of Canada
Sapporo - Honorary consul of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Japan, in Tokyo, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
When calling from within Japan, the area code is preceded by a 0. There is no 0 when calling from outside Japan. If placing a call to a cellular phone number, you do not need to enter the code.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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