Travel to Japan

A record 24.04 million people visited Japan in 2016, welcomed by Japan's spirit of omotenashi. A nation where tradition and modernity share the same space, Japan offers an exciting, unique experience for everyone. From Tokyo’s urban sprawl to the peacefulness of Kyoto, from boisterous Osaka nightlife to Hiroshima's contemplative spirit, Japan’s attractions never fail to dazzle visitors. The amazing food, unique culture, and warm hospitality will keep you coming back!

To get you started, here are some useful tools for your trip:

Convert US Dollars to Japanese YenJapan Weather ForecastJapan train route finder (trip planner)Another train route finder

Download DC-based Japan Travel Agencies & JR Pass Distributors

General questions

Not usually - just a valid passport. If you are a US citizen, you do not need a visa to travel to Japan for up to 90 days with a roundtrip ticket. The purpose of your visit must be tourism, visiting relatives/acquaintances, attending a conference, etc.

Japan has made agreements to waive visa requirements for tourism with 61 countries and regions. You can find more information about this on the Embassy's visa section page. If you need to obtain a visa for your travels, please contact your nearest Consulate General of Japan or call the Visa Section of the Embassy at 202-238-6800.

Japan has a wide variety of climates, terrains, and culture, which means there's a lot of different experiences available to you! There are two official tourism pages you can check, the Japan National Tourism Organization and their Official Travel Website. Another great site is the Japan-Guide, although we are not affiliated with them.
Baggage or accompanying items arriving separately (within six months after either entry to or exit from Japan), which are accepted as for personal use only, are duty-free within the restricted quantity as specified by the customs regulations. For more information, check the Japan Customs site.
Japan is a highly cash-based society. Many major stores and restaurants in big cities will accept credit cards, but cash is the most common way to pay for goods and services. You can get cash from Post Office ATMs or 7-11 ATMs at various locations throughout Japan, wire money through Western Union, or use Traveler's Checks, which may not be accepted by establishments other than major hotels and banks.
Yes! Japan's crime rate is well below the U.S. national average. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions and be aware of your surroundings. The Department of State hosts travel information on their website, and it is recommended that you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to keep up-to-date on safety and security.
Most Japanese people study English at some point in their lives, but even a small attempt at Japanese by foreigners is always appreciated. Especially in the larger cities, you will find that English signs are quite common. Here are some useful Japanese phrases you can practice from About Education and Fodor's Travel, neither of which we are affiliated with.
In Japan, the equivalent of "911" is "119". Calling that number from any phone will connect you with fire and emergency services. To call the police there is a separate number: "110". Japan also has koban, or "police boxes." These are small neighborhood police stations found all over Japan, especially in or near train stations. It is very common in Japan to stop at a koban and ask for directions. Finally, keep a copy of the contact information for the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, just in case.

To call Japan from the U.S., dial 011 81, followed by the area code and phone number. For Japanese cell phones, the area code is 80 or 90. Other common codes are 3 for Tokyo, 78 for Kobe, 75 for Kyoto, 6 for Osaka, and 82 for Hiroshima. If you're given a number that starts with 0, remove it and dial the rest. So, if the number is 080, just dial 80. You can also look up numbers via the Japan Phone Book.

Other options for calling abroad include VoIP services such as Skype.

Excellent! Japan has an extremely modern subway and rail system, as well as the famous shinkansen bullet trains, and a large network of buses. Japan-Guide has an excellent guide to transportation in Japan, including information on the numerous tickets and passes available. You can also use the Japan train route finders at the top of this page.

The Japan Rail Pass is one of the most popular option if you'll be traveling long distances by train, or if you're looking for an economical solution for sightseeing. Japan-Guide has more information about the rail pass, but we also have a list of distributors in the DMV area available on our DMV Resources page. You must purchase an Exchange Order before you travel to Japan. You cannot buy a Japan Rail Pass in Japan.

For information about traveling on public transport system with a wheelchair or other disabilities, please check our special circumstances section below.

UAVs are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. Their website has a guide in English for those who would like to use UAVs in Japan.

For laws in specific cities and prefectures, you can try and contact local film offices, who might be able to provide you with information on filming with UAV.

Special Circumstances

Medications are restricted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. Certain medications require a Yakkan Shoumei import/export certificate which can take over two weeks to process. For information and/or restrictions on specific medications, please check with Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

For more information, please check the main Embassy's guide to bringing Medications into Japan. The Embassy of the United States in Japan also has good information on bringing medication for personal use, although we are not affiliated with them.

Japan has some of the world's best accessible facilities. The train system is highly efficient and wheelchair friendly, and most train stations have accessible restaurants, restrooms, and stores. Japan is also the originator of tactile paving to help those with disabilities navigate. However, large powered wheelchairs may encouter problems navigating through Japan's small areas. Accessible Japan and the Japan Accessible Tourism Center both have great guides to help travelers with disabilities. For information on trains, especially the shinkansen (bullet train), the JR East website has a great introduction to accessible traveling.
Similar to medications, medical devices are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. You can bring one (1) medical device for household use without applying for a Yakkan Shoumei. When you bring your personal medical devices, officers at customs will check the number of devices, and then you can bring them into Japan. If you plan on bringing more than one medical device, you must apply for a Yakkan Shoumei. Please see the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's website for more information.

Although Japanese food is considered some of the healthiest in the world, it can be difficult to find appropriate foods if you have dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and more. Many major restaurants now include pictorgrams on their menus to help, but smaller restaurants may not have them.

If you are gluten-free, Legal Nomads has provide a gluten-free card in Japanese on her website, and Celiac Travel has a different version on their website.

For vegans and vegetarians, HappyCow, Japan Vegan and Vege-Navi all have resources to help you find good restaurants. Additionally, Is it Vegan? Japan offers help with reading packaging.

For those with halal food restrictions, the JNTO provides a guide to Muslim friendly food stores as well as a travel guide. Additionally, Veg-Travel Tokyo is a vegetarian, halal, and kosher restaurant search. The Jewish Community of Japan also has helpful kosher guides.

If you have food allergies, be aware that any products containing eggs, milk, wheat, buckwheat, peanuts, shrimp and crab will be labeled by law. The JNTO's English Tourist's Language Handbook includes information on how to indicate what you are allergic to.