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local-laws

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Updated: July 20, 2022

Tokyo is a relatively relaxed place to visit, but local laws are taken seriously and dealt with accordingly. Keep on the right side of the rules and focus on enjoying your stay.

Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times as a form of identification. It is unlikely that you will be asked to show it, but it is best to keep a copy on you just in case. You will need to present your passport when you check into a hotel.

Drinking and smoking

Be aware that the legal drinking and smoking age is 20. It is quite common to see people drinking in public places, but if you do drink in a public area, do it responsibly and keep noise and revelry down to a minimum. It is forbidden to bring alcohol into some public spaces—Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for example—and baggage checks are in place. Smoking is restricted to designated areas outside, and smoking outside of these areas can lead to a fine. Restaurants and cafes generally have smoking and non-smoking sections.

Road safety

If you are planning to drive a car or ride a bicycle in the city, make sure that you are aware of the rules of the road. Prior research into driving in Japan is highly recommended before you get behind the wheel. Be aware that drinking and driving is strictly prohibited. The same is true for cycling in Japan. Pay close attention to the rules of the road and keep the speed down to avoid any accidents.

Private lodgings

New laws have been implemented to assure the safe practices of private lodgings. Legal establishments will be listed on municipal websites, and all legally recognized lodgings will display the sign below. Make sure to use legal establishments during your stay and be respectful of your neighbors and surroundings. (Portal Website for Private Lodging )

Sign displayed at legal establishments

Prohibition on unmanned aircraft

The operation of unmanned aircraft such as drones and radio-controlled planes is prohibited in most areas of Tokyo. You can obtain special permission to fly unmanned aircraft, but it must be done through the proper procedures with Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). See their website, as well as that of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, for more details.

Illegal drugs

Both the smuggling of drugs into Japan and possession of drugs within Japan carry severe penalties. A special word of warning: while in recent years, laws and social attitudes about the use of cannabis/marijuana have relaxed considerably in various countries, Japan is not one of them.

See the website of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department for specific details.

Scams targeting tourists

Visitors should follow local rules and manners, while staying aware of their surroundings.
Japan is a famously safe country, but if you're out in busy nightlife areas, a tout might approach you on the street and offer you a special deal at a club. Do not accept their offer.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's Tokyo Crime Map provides useful information that is intended to help prevent crime. For more details, click here to visit the Tokyo Crime Map website.