Tokyo is Japan’s capital city and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Tokyo and Japan are known for their fascinating culture, advanced technology, incredible food, and rich history.
If you only have a short time to visit Japan, staying in Tokyo can be the perfect way to sample what Japan offers. However, is Tokyo safe to visit?
With all the hustle and bustle of a big city, is it possible to avoid getting caught up in crime and other safety concerns? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the safety concerns facing tourists who come to Tokyo.
We’ll cover crime rates, bad neighborhoods, natural disasters, and weather in Tokyo below. Prepare yourself for an awesome visit to one of the world’s most stunning cities and keep yourself safe in Tokyo with these tips!
Is Tokyo Safe to Visit?
In general, Tokyo is a very safe city. Crime is low here, but there are various other concerns that travelers should be aware of.
Pickpockets and other petty thieves target tourists who leave their valuables unattended. Additionally, there is a risk of food poisoning and diseases like typhoid, so it’s essential to be careful when eating in unfamiliar places.
Another safety concern is the weather. Tokyo is in a region prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, so it is vital to stay up-to-date on weather forecasts and plan if these situations arise.
However, by preparing for your trip, you can quickly and easily avoid these safety concerns and enjoy a safe, worry-free vacation in Tokyo.
Crime in Tokyo
One of the biggest safety concerns for tourists is crime. As a big city, Tokyo is prone to crimes like pickpocketing and petty theft. To avoid these situations, staying alert and aware of your surroundings is vital.
Keep all valuables locked away or out of sight when possible. Be sure not to leave belongings unattended in public.
If you need to carry larger items or cash, consider using a travel bag with locking compartments or storing your belongings in a hotel safe. Wear a money pouch and always keep your cash, credit cards, and passport in.
In addition, it is a good idea only to use ATMs during the day and avoid using them at night. While crime is relatively low in Tokyo, it’s vital to stay vigilant and use common sense to avoid falling victim.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
As with any big city, Tokyo has its share of bad neighborhoods. Doing your research beforehand can easily avoid these areas and keep yourself safe. Two neighborhoods you should specifically avoid are Kabukicho and Kamagasaki.
Kabukicho is Tokyo’s red light district where sex workers congregate to offer their services to tourists and locals alike. However, it’s also a popular tourist attraction known for its bright lights and neon signs.
Kamagasaki is an impoverished neighborhood that is notorious for its homeless population. In general, it’s best to avoid areas that don’t look safe and stick to the parts of town that are more tourist-friendly.
If you are concerned about a neighborhood you’d like to visit, there are several ways to get information. One of the best ways to access up-to-date information is to use local resources like travel guides, blogs and online forums, and the local tourism office.
You can also ask your hotel staff for recommendations and check for a neighborhood’s rating on sites like TripAdvisor. Additionally, you can always ask a local for advice if you walk around during the day.
Lastly, if you find yourself in an unfamiliar or potentially dangerous neighborhood, stick to well-lit, busy areas, and avoid being alone.
Common Scams in Tokyo
Due to its popularity with tourists, Tokyo is home to many scam artists. These scams are generally nonviolent but attempt to con you out of your hard-earned money.
Some common scams include people walking up to you and asking you to sign a petition or vote on a survey. The survey is just a distraction to get you off guard, and once you are distracted, the person will steal your wallet or purse.
Another scam is when people approach you and ask where a specific place is. They may offer you directions, or they might say they’re lost and need your help. The goal is to distract or make you feel guilty so they can get your money or other valuables.
To avoid these situations, always keep your wits about you. If someone is approaching you or asking for money, be firm in letting them know that you won’t give them any and then walk away. Don’t take your eyes off your belongings or get distracted.
If you are walking, try not to look distracted or confused and keep your belongings close to your body or locked away. Having a map helps avoid getting lost.
Natural Disasters in Tokyo
Beyond crime rates, one of the biggest safety concerns is natural disasters. Tokyo is in an active seismic area that is prone to earthquakes. In addition to earthquakes, Tokyo also deals with volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.
To prepare, it’s vital to keep a close eye on the local news and follow the advice of local authorities. In the event of a natural disaster, make sure you stay calm and do not panic.
Usually, earthquakes are over quickly, and there is no reason to try to get out of a building. As soon as it’s safe, make your way to an open space. If you are in a high-rise building, stay in the designated safe area.
Although natural disasters are a concern, Tokyo has one of the world’s best earthquake and tsunami warning systems. The government is well-prepared to take care of people in an emergency.
Transportation in Tokyo
Traveling around Tokyo is relatively easy, as it’s home to one of the world’s most extensive train and subway systems. With over 200 stations across various lines, there is bound to be a station close to where you need to go.
If you prefer using buses, you can take advantage of Tokyo’s extensive network of bus routes. Many stops have digital signs that display the route and destination, making it easy to determine where you need to go.
If you plan on driving, it is essential to be familiar with the rules of the road in Tokyo. Drivers must be very cautious, as the number of bicycles and traffic is heavy.
Cellular Phone Service in Tokyo
Another area of concern is the quality of cellular phone service in Tokyo. While there is a high concentration of cell towers, network congestion is common in the city.
If you use your phone often, invest in a data-only or unlimited plan so your phone is always connected. Additionally, to avoid network overloads and slow speeds, avoid data-heavy activities like video streaming while in Tokyo.
There are two ways you can get internet access here. You can opt for an international plan on your existing carrier or purchase a local SIM card. Buying a local SIM is often the most affordable option, as international plans can be costly and data-only plans are not always available.
You can easily acquire a local SIM card in cell phone stores across the city. The only requirement to use a local SIM card is that your phone is unlocked.
Sexual Harassment in Tokyo
One of the most concerning issues facing travelers in Tokyo is groping and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is known as chikan in Japanese. Groping is a problem in many major cities worldwide, but particularly in Tokyo.
Women are often targeted by chikan on crowded trains and subways. The best way to avoid these situations is to stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
If you feel someone is touching you, it is best to confront them directly and call for help. You can also travel with a partner or group to reduce your chances of being groped or victimized.
Weather in Tokyo
The climate in Tokyo is typically mild with warm summers and cool winters. Additionally, it can be pretty humid due to its proximity to the ocean.
If you plan to travel to Tokyo during summer, pack appropriate clothes for hot and humid conditions. You may also want to carry an umbrella or rain jacket in case of a sudden downpour.
Getting a Visa to Travel to Tokyo
If you are a US citizen, you must obtain a visa before traveling to Tokyo. To get your visa, you must visit the Japanese embassy in your city or online. You’ll need to provide basic information such as your name, address, and passport number.
You may also need proof of financial stability, such as a recent bank statement or letter from your employer.
The visa rules depend on your nationality. If you are unsure about the visa requirements, it is best to contact the Japanese embassy in your country or consult an immigration lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still looking for answers? These are some commonly asked questions about visiting Tokyo.
What should I avoid in Tokyo?
There are many things to avoid in Tokyo, such as street scams and dangerous neighborhoods. You should also be aware of drug use and sexual harassment on crowded trains.
Keep the potential for natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in mind when you travel to Tokyo.
Is it safe to walk in Tokyo at night?
While walking around at night in Tokyo is generally safe, some areas are best avoided after dark. These include particular train or subway stations, as well as specific neighborhoods that are known for high crime rates.
Sexual harassment can be common in Tokyo, so if you're a woman, it may be best to avoid walking Tokyo at night alone.
How safe is Japan for American tourists?
Overall, Japan is a very safe country for tourists, including Americans. There are no reports of violence directed specifically at Americans visiting Tokyo.
Is Tokyo safe for female tourists?
Yes, Tokyo is a generally safe place for female travelers. There is some risk of sexual harassment or crime, but the country is known for its high public safety standards.
What is considered rude in Tokyo?
Some behaviors that may be considered rude in Tokyo include forcing your way onto a crowded subway train, eating on public transportation, and littering.
Additionally, talking loudly and using your cell phone in public is generally considered impolite.
What is the most common crime in Tokyo?
Bicycle theft is the most common crime. This crime predominately impacts locals mostly and tourists are not in much danger.
So, Is Tokyo Safe to Visit?
Tokyo is a vibrant, exciting city full of unique culture and attractions. While there are some safety concerns in Tokyo, it is generally a very safe place to visit. That’s especially true when you compare Tokyo to other major cities worldwide!
With good planning and awareness of common scams, natural disasters, and dangerous animals, you can enjoy your trip to Tokyo without worrying about your safety.
Just remember to be aware of your surroundings and take the proper precautions throughout Tokyo. You’re sure to have an enjoyable time exploring this incredible city!