Japan: Need to Know

Here are some tips on local regulations and emergency information to get you ready for your trip to Osaka.

Smoking/Cigarette regulations

  • The legal age to be able to buy and smoke cigarettes is 20 and over.
  • Walking and smoking at the same time is illegal and will be fined if caught.
  • Smoking is generally prohibited in most public spaces in major cities, Osaka included, except for in designated smoking areas/rooms. You’ll know them when you see them.
  • Smoking is increasingly prohibited in restaurants, but is allowed in some restaurants that are operating as “izakaya” eating and drinking establishments. Restaurants that do allow smoking may have a Non-Smoking section (you can request a “kin-en seki” if they have one) though they are sometimes poorly separated. The word for the Smoking section is “kitsu-en seki.”

Other drug regulations

  • Marijuana is illegal in Japan and anyone caught importing, selling, or using it will face harsh fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation from the country. Japan is very strict on this.
  • The same goes for any other illegal recreational drugs/substances.
  • For information on bringing your prescription medications into Japan, please consult this website for full details. (In short: generally, if they are not restricted drugs, you have prescriptions for them, and are bringing less than a one or two-month supply depending on what it is, you do not need to declare them in advance.)

Alcohol regulations

  • The legal age to be able to buy and drink alcohol is 20 and over.
  • Public drinking is discouraged except in the case of local street festivals.

Note on Passports:

As a visitor to Japan you are required by law to carry your passport with you at all times. Also, if a police officer requests to see your passport you are legally obligated to show it to them. If you refuse to show it or do not have it with you, you can be arrested, so please be aware of this important rule.

Emergency Phone Numbers and Hospital Information

Call 110 to report an accident or crime to the police call center.
Call 119 to report a fire, to ask for an ambulance or rescue service, or to contact an emergency call center (fire station).

If you require medical assistance, this website has a good list of hospitals and clinics with services in English in the Osaka area. This article also provides a good guide on getting medical help while you’re here.


(Last Update: 2023.8.8)