When most people think about Japan, they think of a country with strict laws and a highly regimented society. However, there are in fact a number of surprising laws in Japan which foreigners should be aware of before visiting or moving to the country.

Some of these laws may seem strange or outdated to foreigners, while others are simply not well-known. Whatever the case may be, it is important to be aware of these laws before traveling or relocating to Japan. They include:

It is illegal to smoke in public places in Japan.

Smoking is banned in most indoor public spaces, including restaurants, bars, offices, and shops. There are designated smoking areas outside, but smokers are required to use ashtrays and dispose of their cigarette butts properly.

However, if you smoke in a non-designated smoking area outdoors, you will be fined $20.

In Japan, you must carry your passport with you at all times

The police can ask to see your passport at any time, so it is important to have it with you, else, you can be deported.

It is illegal to carry hard drugs or over-the-counter prescriptions

Japan is known for its pristine nature and strict drug laws. Visitors to Japan should ensure that their medications – including those containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine (for example: Vicks inhalers), medicines used against allergies and sinus problems like colds/flu viruses; painkillers such as codeine-based ones which can be bought at any pharmacy without prescription- would not cause issues with customs before entering into the country

So if you’re traveling to Japan soon, keep an eye out because some people have gotten into trouble when trying to import these types of drugs.

Be responsible while drinking in public places in Japan

While public drinking is generally frowned upon in Japan, it is legal. There are vending machines that offer beer and sake and traditional Japanese festivals like Hanami, where participants can enjoy picnics and drinks outside under blooming cherry trees. It’s always a good idea to act respectfully and not draw too much attention to yourself if you are drinking in public.

Legal age of drinking

One can drink when one is 20 years old in Japan. This rule was not very strictly followed many years ago but nowadays at places like bars and also even at convenience stores, they ask you to show your ID to prove that you are not a minor if you try to purchase any alcoholic drinks. So it is better not to pretend that you are over 20 to order alcoholic drinks as it would not work.

Legal age of consent

Many people who are from outside Japan are often surprised when they hear that the legal age of consent in Japan is only 13.  Although this is what it says in the Japan’s Penal Code, because there are other laws, de facto age of consent in Japan is 18 years old. They are now considering raising the legal age in the Penal Code as well, probably to 16 because 13 years old is lower than the legal age of consent in other developed countries. Refer to this article for more information.


These are just a few of the laws that foreigners should be aware of when traveling to Japan. Following these laws will help you avoid any potential trouble with the law while also helping you fit in with the local culture. Be sure to do your research before your trip so that you know what other laws and customs you need to be aware of.