Japan is one of the safest places on the planet to travel to. It has one of the lowest rates of violent crimes, has extremely safe forms of transport for its citizens and visitors, and is very accepting of travellers from virtually anywhere on earth.
In fact, Japan ranks 8th in the world for its peace score in the 2015 Global Peace Index. This is one spot ahead of Australia, and top of the list for all 48 Asian countries.1
All that being said, nowhere on earth is 100% safe. Sure, you’re unlikely to encounter theft in Japan, but it still happens from time to time. Additionally, you still need to ensure you’re protected in the event you get sick, you miss a flight, or your luggage ends up in the Bermuda Triangle.
Yes, you can never guarantee an incident-free trip when you travel, but you can account for this by taking out travel insurance. Here’s what you need to know about getting covered for your trip to ‘Nippon’.
Watch out for these dangers in Japan
- Natural disasters. Earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, volcanic eruptions from Kuchinoerabu-jima. Can you do anything about them? Not really. But an important rule for ensuring you’re covered by your insurance is to not venture into any regions with active travel warnings when advised not to do so. DFAT will issue such warnings on the Smart Traveller website. If something happens when you’ve already travelled into the area, you shouldn’t have any problems making a claim.
- Because of several nuclear meltdowns, the Australian government advises Australians to stay away from certain regions of Japan. As of July 2016, this included the area near Fukushima Dai-chi power plant.
- Driving. Drive on the left side of the road. Please note that travelling with drunk passengers (even if you’re sober) can result in punishment from the police. Your Aussie license should be valid for 12 months. If you get into a fender bender, your rental vehicle excess can be covered by certain travel insurance policies.
- Theft & crime. As we already mentioned, Japan has a low rate of crime.2 Does this mean you shouldn’t worry about it? Absolutely not. Keep a close eye on your belongings when in public places, be wary of your drinks when out at night, and travel with others wherever possible (safety in numbers).
- Hospitals. Not only can treatment in Japanese hospitals be quite expensive, these hospitals also refuse care to anyone who is unable to provide proof that the costs of treatment can be paid for.2 This makes for a compelling argument for taking out travel insurance, where the cost of your treatment – no matter how serious the condition – is paid for.
- Vaccinations. Japan reportedly has few endemic diseases,3 which means you should be able to safely travel there and not worry too much about contracting some wild virus. However, consult your GP at least eight weeks before you depart about any vaccinations you may require – asking specifically about Rabies and Measles.
You don’t necessarily think ‘Japan’ when you think of departing on wild activities that get the blood pumping, but it’s actually a fantastic part of the world to do so.
- Skiing & Snowboarding. Japan has some of the best ski fields in the world – hands down. If you’re going to take the trip to Nagano and start carving up the powder, you’d be wise to check out ski or snow sports cover as an additional extra to your travel insurance policy. This will cover you for injuries encountered on the slopes, as well as lost passes, cancellations of tours, etc.
- Drifting school. This island nation has quite the love of racing cars. One form that’s really taken off is ‘drifting’, where you slide your car around corners…fast. You can even take drifting classes to learn trade secrets, but make sure you’re using an accredited school, and you follow your instructor’s advice. If you don’t, you risk not being covered in the event of a claim.
Mind your manners
Japanese etiquette is quite different to Australia’s. While you’re travelling, be respectful of this culture, and enjoy partaking in it!
- When riding trains, watch your BO, don’t talk on the phone (keep your voice down in general), and don’t smoke inside the cabin.
- Walking around in your shoes inside homes, restaurants, even temples, is bad manners.
- Eating etiquette. Eating sushi with your hands is fine, but use chopsticks to transport it to your plate if you’re sharing a meal with someone else. Also, do not stick your chopsticks upright in your rice.
- Public displays of affection are not forbidden, but they may make others uncomfortable.
Emergency contact details
- Police: 110
- Ambulance/Fire: 119
Get covered wherever you travel by checking out our guide.
N.B. Please refer to or speak with you insurer about limits, sub limits, restrictions, limitations and additional cover options.