🔖 4 min read

With its charming blend of futuristic technologies and centuries-old traditions, breathtaking natural sceneries, bustling cities, and unique pop culture exports like manga, anime, and video games to name just a few, there’s no denying Japan’s beauty or appeal as a major bucket list destination. The world’s fascination with the intriguing Japanese culture, full of contradictions and contrasts and so different from that of the Western world, prompts millions of tourists to travel to the land of the rising sun every year in a quest to uncover its secrets. 

But for the conscious traveller, there’s more than landmarks, attractions, and unique experiences to take into account when planning a trip to Japan or elsewhere. Safety also factors in high on the list of priorities. Travelling is definitely a lot more fun when you don’t have to constantly look behind your shoulder and worry about your safety and well-being at every turn. Besides, if you suffer an accident or an injury abroad, the compensation claim process can be a lot more difficult to navigate than at home due to international laws.  

Assessing the safety of your destination is all the more important if you’re a woman or if you’re planning to travel solo, as this can expose you to greater risks. So, how does Japan stand in terms of safety and what should tourists known before embarking on an adventure to Nippon? 


Ranking high on the safety list 

As a largely conformist and conservative society that places great importance on traditional values such as mutual respect, discipline, and group harmony, Japan has always been viewed as a generally safe country for both residents and visitors. 

Some might think this is merely a cultural stereotype or a myth perpetuated over the years by foreigners and stemming from the famous Omotenashi philosophy which centres around politeness and hospitality. However, this belief is also reinforced by relevant studies in this regard conducted by reputable institutions and relying on hard data, such as the Global Peace Index. This annual report assesses a country’s peacefulness by taking into account 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators grouped into three categories: ongoing domestic and international conflict, societal safety and security, and the level of militarisation. 

In 2023, the GPI ranked Japan as the 9th most peaceful country in the world out of 163 nations, ahead of Switzerland and Canada. Strictly referring to safety and security, Japan comes second after Finland. This is certainly not a surprise since the Nipon nation has always ranked high in terms of safety.

Japan also ranks 22nd among 134 countries by Global Finance’s report on the world’s safest countries, right after Germany and Ireland. 

Finally, Japan claims 12th place in the 2024 Safest Places Ratings conducted by Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, going up a few positions from the previous year when it ranked 19th. So, it’s not just the general perception but also the results of in-depth research that prove Japan is a country where people can enjoy a high level of safety and security.  

Nonetheless, these reports don’t necessarily address travellers’ specific concerns, so let’s take a closer look at some aspects that tourists might want to know when planning their trip to Japan. 


Transport infrastructure  

As a tourist, one relies on different means of transportation to get from point A to point B safely and make their way around their destination of choice. A good transport infrastructure ensures not only accessibility and convenience but also makes traveling a lot safer. 

When it comes to Japan’s transport system, the first picture that comes to mind is that of the world-renowned Shinkansen, otherwise known as the magnetic bullet train. Japan boasts an extensive network of high-speed railway lines that connect Tokyo with different regions of the country, providing a comfortable and fast way for tourists to explore Japan. In general, Japan’s public transportation is clean, safe, and reliable, but it can also be quite costly for those who are travelling on a budget. 

As for driving, although Japan has an extensive and modern road network, the experience can be quite challenging as roads are narrow in many areas and the bustling traffic in large cities can make it all the more difficult for tourists to move around.   


Navigating the urban landscape

Speaking of cities, Japan’s idyllic countryside is contrasted by densely populated cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa, Kyoto, and Kobe, so for anyone looking to get a taste of the urban jungle it’s important to know what to expect.

As crazy and chaotic as Japanese cities might seem at first glance, everything follows a natural flow so there’s a general sense of order and discipline that reigns over all the buzz. There are also signs that provide information and directions so that tourists can move smoothly from one place to another.  


Cultural barriers 

As we’ve already mentioned, Japan has a unique culture, very different from those in the West. While this contributes to the country’s appeal, it can also pose a challenge for foreigners who don’t speak a word of Japanese and are not familiarized with local customs and societal norms. 

Fortunately, one can overcome these cultural barriers with a bit of patience and understanding. while not many people in Japan are fluent in English, the number of English speakers has increased significantly in recent years. Besides, one can always use translation apps to communicate with locals. It’s also helpful to do a bit of research beforehand, learn some useful words and phrases, and find out about Japan’s etiquette rules to avoid cultural faux pas. 

Some tourists also worry about natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or tsunamis, due to the country’s geological structure and geographical location. While it’s impossible to predict natural disasters, these types of events are not a common occurrence. When they do happen, Japan has a highly efficient disaster response system in place to minimise damages. 

All in all, Japan is a country worth adding to your travel bucket list, not only for its numerous wonders but also for the safe travel experience it provides.