Japan Guide - Health and safety
|Health and safety
Hygiene standards are high in Japan, and medical facilities - although expensive - are widely available. Probably the most important preventative measure is to make sure that you are healthy before you start traveling. Dental treatment is expensive as well, so it's a good idea to have a check-up before you leave. Make sure that you bring extra contact lenses or glasses as well as any medications you might need. Getting correct medications may be difficult - and illegal if you don't have your prescription handy (it’s also a good idea to know the generic name of the drug as well as the brand name). However, medical treatment and drugs are of high quality. No immunizations or health certificates are necessary for Japan. Food is almost always safe to eat and you can drink tap water throughout Japan but should avoid drinking directly from streams or rivers. You should also avoid wading barefoot in rice paddies or stagnant water as there could be parasites living in the water.
It’s a very good idea to take out a good travel insurance policy to protect you from theft, property loss or health problems. Due to the high cost of hospital treatment in Japan, you want to make sure that are covered before you arrive. If you're not sure where to look, ask your travel agent. Make sure you read through the policy and find out which one will work best for you. For example, some policies will not cover you if you're doing activities such as scuba diving, cycling and even hiking. If your itinerary includes these things than you don't want to sign up for that policy. Other things to check for are: ambulances and emergency flights home, payment method (do they pay upfront or do you get reimbursed), and low or high medical expense options.
Japan is a generally an extremely safe country. Theft and crime in general are not common, and those who have spent a fair amount of time in the country can relate several instances when wallets, watches or other valuables have been promptly returned or at least left alone. That being said, carelessness is often the cause of problems, so you should always be careful while in crowded transit areas. If you do happen to lose something on a train or in an airport, check with the lost and found service at the appropriate office, and more likely than not it'll turn up. Because of the safety factor, Japan is a great place to travel with children. Just make sure you keep an eye on them, as it's also a very crowded country.
For more information on the Great East Japan Earthquake of 11th March 2011, please read our report here.
Western toilets are available in modern buildings such as hotels and airports, and sometimes in train or bus stations. However, if you're staying in Japan, you are more than likely going to get to experience the Japanese toilet. Most modern buildings have western toilets nowadays, but public bathrooms and older buildings still use the traditional kind. The correct position is to face away from the door toward the hood of the toilet (this is the opposite of most other Asian countries). Toilet paper is not always provided so it's a good idea to carry your own tissue.
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