Thursday, 10th September 2015
In General Japan News,
Unusual Japanese laws to know before you travel
The culture of Japan is one of the main reasons to book a holiday in this part of the world and many people are drawn by its differences to the UK.
As well as local customs, it is a good idea to update your knowledge on Japanese laws prior to travelling and there are a few that may come as a surprise.
In a recent article for Business Insider, a Reddit thread into the issue was explored, asking "what laws are foreigners most unaware of in Japan?"
Here are some of the answers.
Foreigners must carry their passports everywhere
It is enshrined in Japanese law that the police can stop anyone whenever they like on the street and ask to see identification.
As British travellers do not hold identity cards, this means your passport and those who cannot produce it can be arrested.
Always keep your passport safe and secure, however, which means in a zipped pocket or money belt, as losing it can lead to all sorts of problems.
Some common medicines are illegal
Medicines that contain a stimulant are illegal in Japan, which means seemingly innocuous items such as allergy medication and inhalers are prohibited.
This means purchasing them will be impossible and if bringing any medication with you, always ensure you have a letter from your doctor explaining its purpose.
Smoking is legal in many dining establishments
Many restaurants and bars have designated smoking areas, like Britain used to prior to the 2007 ban.
Be sure to check that you are in one of these places before lighting up and non-smokers may wish to avoid standing close to such areas.
It is illegal to smoke in some outdoor spaces
While British smokers have become accustomed to stepping outside to have a cigarette, it is the great outdoors where Japan restricts the habit.
A number of urban public spaces prohibit smoking, so again, check before lighting a cigarette to avoid any unnecessary trouble.
Drinking on the street is legal
There are no laws in Japan to restrict the consumption of alcohol in the street and in public places and in some instances it is even encouraged.
Vending machines sell beer and sake and annual festivals are held in which the Japanese gather to share a drink outside.
These include Hanami, which coincides with the flowering of Japan's famous cherry blossom trees, where people pick a spot beneath such a shrub and enjoy a picnic.
Anyone deciding to drink outside while visiting the country should not overindulge and ensure they act respectfully and appropriately.