7 Very Important Laws in Tokyo You Must Follow as a Tourist

As a tourist visiting Japan, you may find yourself enjoying the many adventures that Tokyo has to offer. However, before throwing caution to the wind, there are 7 very important that you must know and adhere to. I know, I know.. Laws are rarely fun topics, but keep in mind that you are going to be a guest in a foreign land, and these foreign lands have rules. These rules, or laws, are designed to protect you, though failing to allow yourself said protection, may result in consequence. The choice is yours, but I think you should at least know what they are. What’s that old saying about leading a horse to water? Let’s start taking sips!

..and that’s why the thumbnail is of a horse drinking water! Creative, huh?


I just want to reiterate that these laws are important for you to follow, and that they’re designed to keep you safe. So, without further preamble, let’s dive in.

Here are the 7 very important that I’ve been talking about

  1. You must always carry your passport with you.
  2. It is illegal to cross the street while eating or drinking.
  3. You cannot smoke in public places.
  4. It is illegal to ride a bicycle without a front light and rear reflector.
  5. Pedestrians must not walk on the road.
  6. It is illegal to litter in Tokyo.
  7. You must not make noise in public places after 10pm.

While there are surely more than 7 laws in Tokyo, these are probably among the easiest laws to inadvertently break, for us loud, forgetful, careless, bike-riding dolts who love nothing more than to get drunk and wander around in the middle of the street. Just kidding. Relax. I’m not a bike rider. 😉

Now, before we take a deep dive into these 7 , I believe something should be addressed.


No, not really. In fact, they’re often quite lax when compared to laws in other countries. For example, it is technically against the law to drink alcohol in public places in Japan. However, this law is hardly ever enforced and you will see people drinking on the street all the time. So, while technically illegal, drinking in public is widely accepted and not really a big deal.

The laws on this list are important because they *are* enforced, and you will be subject to consequences if you break them. So, even if some of these laws seem silly to you, it’s best to follow them anyway.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a more in-depth look at these laws.

You Must Always Carry Your Passport With You

keep your passport with you
Image Source: https://cpl.org/

This one is pretty self explanatory. If you’re going to be traveling around Tokyo (or anywhere, really), you need to have your passport with you. This is just good common sense, and it’s always a good idea to have your passport handy when you’re traveling in a foreign country.

It is Illegal to Cross the Street While Eating or Drinking

This one may seem a bit odd, but it’s actually designed to keep you safe. When you’re walking around Tokyo, you’re likely to see a lot of people crossing the street while eating or drinking. However, this is actually against the law.

The reason for this law is that it’s easy to become distracted when you’re eating or drinking, and if you’re not paying attention, you could wind up in the path of oncoming traffic. So, to avoid becoming a pedestrian casualty, it’s best to wait until you’ve finished your food or drink before crossing the street.

You Cannot Smoke in Public Places

no smoking in public areas
Image Source: https://www.unicef.org/

Smoking is technically banned in all public places in Tokyo, including restaurants, bars, parks, and on the street. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, you can smoke in some designated smoking areas, and some restaurants and bars have indoor smoking rooms where you can light up.

Honestly, in 2022, these sorts of things are pretty well-known to be the case in most places. So, if you’re a smoker, just be mindful of where you can and can’t smoke, and you’ll be fine. That’s all. You do you.

It is Illegal to Ride a Bicycle Without a Front Light and Rear Reflector

This law is designed to keep cyclists safe, and it’s pretty simple to follow. If you’re going to ride a bicycle at night, you need to have a front light and rear reflector. This will help you see where you’re going, and it will also help other people see you.

Roads in Tokyo can be pretty crowded, and if you’re not careful, you could end up getting hit by a car. So, it’s always best to be as visible as possible when you’re cycling.

Pedestrians Must Not Walk on the Road

This is another law that’s designed to keep pedestrians safe. In Tokyo, pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the road. They must use the sidewalks instead. This may seem like a pain, but it’s actually for your own good. The sidewalks in Tokyo are designed to be safe and easy to use, and they’re a lot less crowded than the roads. So, if you want to avoid getting hit by a car, it’s best to stay on the sidewalk.

I personally got a ticket for this. Not in Tokyo. I was in Sasebo, Nagasaki and got a ticket for jaywalking. I paid the [I think] 300 yen fine and moved on. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did teach me to be more careful about where I was walking.

It is Illegal to Litter in Tokyo

no littering is one of the 7 laws in Tokyo you must follow

Littering is a big no-no in Tokyo. If you’re caught littering, you could be subject to a pretty hefty fine. So, if you don’t want to get in trouble with the law, make sure to throw your trash away in a garbage can.

What happens if you litter in Japan?

Your vacation might get ruined by a 30,000 JPY fine! It’s not worth it at all to litter in Tokyo or really anywhere else, and to be honest, it’s not even about the money. It’s poor form and makes you look like someone worthy of such a high-priced fine.

Again, please don’t litter in Tokyo. You’ve been warned. Don’t do it.

You Must Not Make Noise in Public Places After 10:00 PM

For the final law that I’m encouraging you not to break, it’s the noise level. You see, in Tokyo, it’s illegal to make noise in public places after 10:00 PM. This means no loud music, no shouting, and no being rowdy in general.

The reason for this law is that people need to be able to sleep at night, and if you’re making a bunch of noise, it’s going to bother them. So, if you want to avoid getting in trouble, just keep the noise down after 10:00 PM.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you’re at a bar or a club, it’s okay to make some noise. But in general, try to keep the noise level down after 10:00 PM.

Thanks for Reading!

As a tourist in Tokyo, it’s important to obey the laws and be respectful of the local culture. By following these seven laws, you’ll be sure to have a great time in Tokyo without any legal trouble. Just remember to be careful, be respectful, and don’t litter!

Now go and start preparing for your trip!

Make sure you have everything you’ll need for your journey, and if you need some ideas about what you should have inside your digital nomad backpack, then please click the link below to read about it:

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