How safe is Japan? Japan has a reputation of being one of the safer countries in the world for tourists, but just how safe is it for the average tourist? Here is what I have seen while visiting it over the past few years.
Japan has a reputation of being super safe and overall, I would say that is fair assessment, Japan is very safe. Now, are there crimes? Of course there are, but when compared to other countries like the United States, it is a night and day difference. Japan is very safe and after walking around Roppongi, Shinjuku, Golden Gai, Kabuki-cho, Shibuya, and other areas that are often mentioned as areas at night, I never feared for my safety.
Now what is the cause of this? Is it an increased police presence throughout the cities? I wouldn’t say it is a major factor despite there being a large number of police and security guards in the very busy areas of Tokyo, instead I would say it has more to do with the average person in Japan. In the places I have been, a vast majority of people keep to themselves, are more concerned about where/what they are doing, and have little care about what others are thinking/doing around them. This means, while there are issues and crime, for the average person minding their own business and knowing their situation, most have no issues while visiting Japan.
So are there some situations where it was a little awkward for me on the ground? There sure was for me. First in 2017 I was propositioned for a massage around 7 in the morning while waiting to cross the street in Roppongi. There was a pretty girl that was asking every tourist that walked past that intersection if they wanted a massage at some random parlor. It may have been for a legit business, but it just felt strange, so I said no and walked away. While this sounds strange (I mean, I was two blocks from the Roppongi police station), people being approached on the streets is common in Japan and something foreigners have to watch out.
While walking in Japan, you may be approached with drink or club deals, the offer often sounding too good to be true. Guess what, they are. The offers may be no cover or a free drink, but they will then sucker you into paying a fee of some kind that will drain your credit card super fast, so be careful. You might end up with an overcharged card while drinking watered down drinks, so avoid set up like this. Just be smart and know your surroundings.
Here is some advice. First, know the Japanese police number, 119, it’s just a good number to know before hitting the streets. They may not speak English, so be ready for that. Know where police stations are if you are in need of help. Know where your embassy is and have those numbers on hand for if you need them. And overall, just be smart out there. If you think an area is not safe, then go around it, don’t risk it. The streets of Tokyo are very safe and you should not be afraid to walk and explore the small winding streets, but be smart about it. If an area doesn’t look right, avoid it. Japan is very safe, but this is no excuse to be stupid and walk into the wrong situation.
Overall Japan is much safer than most US cities, but still has its own crime. You simply need to be smart, know your surroundings, and don’t take risks. If you are able to do all of this, you will remain super safe throughout your travels in Japan.