Travel Insurance and Safety Tips for Visitors to Japan
One of the most amazing and beautiful countries in the world, Japan is an exciting and far-flung destination for most global travelers. From the stunning Mount Fuji to the bustling city of Tokyo or the Zen-like feel in Kyoto, the country is high-tech and modern, with respect and honor for its past. Japan is a large, modern country and is also very safe for visitors. While medical care is very good in Japan, it may be challenging to access international doctors while abroad. Additionally, clinics or hospitals that cater to US-style expectations are costly and there are not many. Purchasing travel insurance for Japan will ensure you have access to international doctors, 24/7 travel assistance services, and other benefits so you can focus on enjoying your trip.
When you travel to Japan, expect to experience fantastic food, see stunning temples and shrines and enjoy a culture steeped in a long, rich history. Though an expensive country to visit, a trip to “the land of the rising sun” can be a trip of a lifetime. It is a very stable country. It is a successful democracy and has a large economy. Throughout the country, tourist facilities are widely available, except in some coastal areas of the Northeast. Below we offer advice on how to stay safe while visiting and some of the better travel insurance plans for visitors to Japan.
Is It Safe to Travel to Japan
People often ask: Is it safe to travel to Japan? Overall, the crime rate is below that of the national average in the US and other developed countries, and violent crime is rare. Crimes reported by travelers typically involve personal dispute, theft or vandalism. Staying safe while traveling there includes consistently practicing good personal security and using common sense. That includes being respectful of local customs and etiquette and being aware of your surroundings.
Tips to stay safe include:
- Be aware of potential pickpockets in crowded areas such as on trains, at airports or shopping. Never keep your passport in your pocket.
- Stay away from counterfeit or pirated goods, no matter how accessible they are. They are illegal in the US and purchase of them may also be breaking local laws.
- High-risk crime areas include some of the entertainment and nightlife districts in Tokyo such as Roppongi, Kabuki-Cho, Shibuya and Ikebukuro. Exercise caution in these areas.
Tokyo has been ranked the world’s safest city for the third year running, followed by Singapore and Osaka, according to the latest report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Vaccines Required for Visiting Japan
As advised by the CDC, “Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.” Hepatitis A and B are also recommended vaccines if you do not already have them. You may need the vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis for longer trips (more than a month), for travel in certain prefectures (especially rural areas), and depending on the time of year. Finally, Rabies is present in the country so consider a Rabies shot if you will be traveling to remote areas, spending time outdoors or in areas with large bat populations. As always, we recommend you talk with your doctor or a local travel clinic before traveling to Japan. Be sure to have your annual flu shot too!
Japanese Emergency and Safety Services
In the event you need to access emergency services, call the following:
- 110 for police
- 119 for fire and ambulance
Be aware that there may not be any that English-speaking dispatchers available.
Source: Japan Tourism
Passports and Visa Requirements for Travel to Japan
To travel to Japan, a valid passport and a return ticket are required for “visa-free” tourist stays of up to 90 days. All foreign nationals entering the country are required to be photographed at the port of entry and to provide fingerprint scans. This is in addition to any other visa or passport requirements.
All US citizens entering through customs need to ensure that their passports and visas are valid and up to date before departure. Many Asian countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after you enter the country. International airlines will deny your boarding if you lack sufficient travel documents or your passport is not valid for six months.
Do US Citizens Need a Visa to Visit Japan
The short answer is no. Visa requirements for us citizens are very relaxed due to the nature of US-Japan relations. For travel up to 90 days, visitors from the following countries are not required to have a visa:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay
More Information: Visitor and Visa Information
Japanese Travel Insurance Plans for Visitors
As you plan your trip, take advantage of the opportunity to purchase travel insurance so that you can be prepared for any unforeseen and unwanted events. Below we will recommend a few different types of plans and some specifics products that are recommended for travelers to Japan.
Insurance for Trips to Japan
If you have booked a trip and are concerned with having to cancel, you should buy Japan Trip Cancellation coverage. Trip Cancellation plans cover the cost of your trip if you have to cancel. There are typically a list of eligible reasons for cancellation. You can also by a Cancel for Any Reason trip insurance plan that will reimburse you if you simply decide not to travel.
Seven Corners offers a couple of well respected trip cancelation plans for travelers. The first, RoundTrip Elite, is for US citizens traveling abroad. The second is available to any other nationality traveling abroad.
Trip Insurance for US Citizens Traveling to Japan
- Comprehensive trip protection for U.S. residents traveling abroad.
- Optional rental car collision coverage available.
- Optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage available (if eligible).
Trip Insurance for Foreigners Traveling Abroad
- Trip protection for non-U.S. residents traveling up to 30 days.
- $100,000 personal liability benefit.
- 24/7 multilingual travel assistance.
Japanese Travel Medical Insurance
Typically, travel medical insurance provides coverage for you and those in your traveling party. These plans provide coverage for accidents or illness, saving you from large medical bills if you require a visit to the doctor or hospital. Caregivers will require payment in full at the time of treatment. Remember to bring your insurance card with you and keep detailed documentation for your insurance claim. Purchase of comprehensive travel medical insurance, including air evacuation, is strongly recommended. Costs paid out of pocket can be high. For example, an evacuation can cost upwards of $50,000. The Atlas Travel Insurance plan is a great option for any traveler. For US citizens traveling abroad, the GeoBlue Voyager plan provides a feature rich alternative option.
Atlas Travel Insurance for all Visitors to Japan
- You choose between the basic essentials and more extensive coverage.
- Meets Schengen visa insurance requirements.
- 24/7 worldwide travel and emergency medical assistance.
Best Travel Insurance for Visitors to Japan from the USA
The GeoBlue Voyager Plan offers the highest quality coverage and service for US citizens traveling abroad. Their international network of doctors is highly rated. Customer service is available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week for advice on which hospitals are the best or to help with translating documents.
- Great option for US citizens traveling abroad
- For trips up to 6 months for ages up to 84
- May cover pre-existing conditions for medical services
The Olympics are scheduled to start in Tokyo on July 24, 2020 and run through August 9. As you book your trip and hotel room, be sure to buy travel insurance for your adventure as soon as possible. Also read: Insurance for Travel to the Olympics
Related: Learn about Health Insurance in Japan for foreigners and expats.
Bringing Prescriptions into the Country
You can bring prescribed medicines in under certain conditions. There are additional restrictions on narcotics and psychotropic drugs and importing them from overseas is subject to control by other laws and rules. When bringing your personal medications, you may be required to apply for “Yakkan Shoumei”, certification of your legitimate need for this medicine, before leaving home. and declare it to customs officials upon entry. For smaller doses of the medicines as listed below, you would be required to apply for “Yakkan Shoumei”. You would simply provide your prescription and medications to customs at arrival for review.
◆ Prescription Medications : Up to 1 month supply
◆ Medications for External Use (excluding prescription drugs) : Up to 24 per one item
◆ Injectable Medications and Syringe: Up to 1 month supply
* Only “Pre-filled Syringe” or “Self-injection Kit”
◆ Other Drugs, Quasi drugs : Up to 2 month supply
Cosmetics and are allowed with few limitations. Narcotics and psychotropic drugs are much more highly regulated and you should check with you local embassy before traveling.
Food and Water Safety
Food standards are high, similar to those in other developed countries. Japan prides itself on safety and a healthy lifestyle. Restaurants are clean, safe, and well managed. Most travelers do not need to take special dietary precautions beyond what they normally do at home. You will find a variety of delicious and healthy food options in the country.
- It has the lowest obesity in the world which is only 3% comparing to French 11% and America 32%.
- Citizens consume 25% lower calories than Americans
It is important to keep hydrated during your travels, especially in the summer. If you are not used to the humidity—and even if you are—it can be very easy to suffer from dehydration. Make sure to keep some water with you at all times. You will find there are a large number of convenience stores that sell bottles of water in various sizes. Most restaurants offer drinkable tap water at no charge. Just ask the staff. In fact, clean tap water is a source of pride for many of Japan’s mountainous regions as cool, clean water is a product of the surrounding peaks. Make sure to try some if you find yourself in these areas. (Source: Japanese Food Options)
Weather and Seasons – When to Visit
The seasons can vary dramatically, with the summers being very hot and humid. In the winters, it can be very cold in the north and you will find skiing in the mountains. For example, the summers in Tokyo can get up over 90 ℉ (30 ℃) while Sapporo can get as cold as 15 ℉ (-10 ℃). So depending on where you want to go and the time of year you will be traveling, do some research on the weather in that region for that season.
Other Advice for Visitors
While the cost of living is one of the highest in the world, the use of credit and debit cards are not as popular, especially outside of major cities.
ATMs are not typically open 24 hours, and few accept US-issued cards. The locations that most likely have ATMs you could access include major airports, post offices, foreign bank branches, and 7-11 stores.
Also, 7-11 stores and other convenience stores can be a haven as they typically carry a full range of items you might need, selling everything from underwear to concert tickets. They are also a good place to purchase hot food items.
Undoubtedly, a trip to Japan can be exciting! As you plan, remember to purchase the travel insurance that will give you the peace of mind you need to truly enjoy all of the activities and adventures you have planned while abroad.