Japan is generally a very safe place to travel to, however, for many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip –and not one they are likely to repeat, so it pays to plan for the unexpected. There are some amazing things to do here – fabulous hikes, including Mount Fuji, amazing skiing, super diving, and a whole host of other things. Ensuring that you have something in place to cover you for unanticipated happenings will help you to enjoy your travels much more. In this article, we’ll cover the reasons why we opted to take out a travel insurance policy for Japan.
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Why we opted for Travel Insurance for Japan?
There are a variety of reasons why we ensured we had travel insurance for our visits to Japan. Our activities very much defined the travel insurance policy that we bought, but here are the reasons why we opt for insurance when traveling.
TLDR: Get a quote for Japan travel insurance here. Even if you’re already traveling.
I try to avoid unforeseen costs in Japan
Japan was one of the more expensive countries that we traveled to. So much so that on our first visit, which was for 28 days, we left out hotel room by 6:30 EVERY day to make the most of it. (when we reached Mui Ne, Vietnam afterward we slept for a few days pretty solidly!!)
But avoiding unforeseen costs is the primary reason that I buy travel insurance and this was key for me in Japan, where transport, emergency healthcare, and replacing lost or stolen items is much more expensive than when we were in South East Asia.
For me, it means we have the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, and there are additional costs to bear – like an emergency flight home or medical costs, or your luggage gets lost or stolen – that we make sure it’s covered and you don’t have to pay the cost ourselves. We’ve twice had to return home for family emergencies, and it’s not cheap. The stress of the additional cost isn’t pleasant either.
Serious Crime is low in Japan, but Robbery Can Occur
Serious crime and levels of robbery are very low in Japan and when they do occur it tends to be opportunistic. It’s necessary, always, to be aware of your surroundings and protect valuables. We always travel with a portable safe from Pacsafe and secure our valuables in it in the room when we leave.
a href=”https://asocialnomad.com/reviews/portable-travel-safe/”>Read about portable travel safes here
It is generally safe to walk at night and to use public transport, but be vigilant (as in any location). The areas around Roppongi and Kabuki-Cho in Tokyo are higher crime-risk areas. Be aware of spiked drinks and credit-card fraud.
Cash is king in Japan, so we carry more than usual
Japan is primarily a cash-based society and carrying a lot of cash around Japan is quite normal. It’s well worth bringing cash from home to change until you’ve confirmed that the ATMs will accept your cash or debit card. Maestro, Cirrus, Link, and Delta cards are not widely accepted. The best place for ATMs is the 7-Eleven store, but some of these stores close at 2100. You can read my guide to Japanese ATMs here.
The potential for petty theft and pickpocketing is higher because of this. Ensure that your case is safely locked away (use something like the Pacsafe for this)
Natural Disasters Occur in Japan
There is a regular risk of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes in Japan. Japan is in a major earthquake zone and it’s necessary to ensure you are familiar with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake. The latest warnings are published here
Depending on when you are traveling to Japan, you may experience a typhoon. The typhoon season in Japan runs from June until December, with the south of the country at the most risk. Again you can monitor the progress of storms at the Japanese Meteorological site here.
We ended up sitting out a typhoon in Kinosaki onsen town – which turned out to be an amazing place to visit – read about it here – we essentially had the whole town to ourselves!
There are more than 100 active volcanoes in Japan, some of which you’re likely to visit – Sakurajima, for instance, is close to Kagoshima. Again, monitor local reports.
We were lucky enough to leave Nepal the day before the massive 2015 earthquake. Friends weren’t and were still there – in both the Langtang Valley and also in Kathmandu – and had to be evacuated. If there is a natural disaster while you are in the country and your government advises you to leave the area. You’ll need to check what coverage your insurance company provides in this instance.
Health Risks in Japan occur
There are occasional outbreaks of Dengue Fever in Japan – many Tokyo Parks were closed when we visited, as a result of an outbreak. Medical facilities in Japan, are though, excellent, although costs are high. Many medical facilities may expect you to pay the full cost of treatment and claim it back if you have travel insurance. That can mean having a decent-sized limit on your credit card. I always carry proof of insurance, just in case the hospital won’t treat me.
Adventure Activities Are Higher Risk
Japan is a fabulous place for skiing, for hiking (and the Mount Fuji hike is a tough one, getting to 12,388 feet (3,776 meters), which is above many insurers’ limits for altitude. There’s great diving here too. All these, and other adventure activities come with a great risk than sightseeing around cities.
Hiking in Japan can be at Attitude
We didn’t summit Mount Fuji. We arrived too late in the year, but we did get to the sixth station, which was plenty high enough. The summit of Fuji is 3776 meters – most insurance companies require additional coverage at altitudes more than 2,000 meters. Even some of the climbs in the Kamikochi National Park are over 3,000 meters. We checked out the policy before heading out, altitude sickness isn’t to be taken lightly – you can read our experience of it here. Even if you take a day trip from Tokyo and don’t climb Fuji you can still get to a decent altitude, so just keep an eye on it!
Flight Delays and Cancellations are possible in Japan
Typhoon season in Japan runs from June until December, which can mean earthquakes and landslides as well as the typhoon itself. You can expect the loss of power, communications, and water as well as the disruption of travel services. Flights are likely to be delayed or canceled.
Where we were when we took out the insurance policy
Most travel and health insurance companies only provide insurance if you are leaving on your trip from your home address. Other require that you have been resident in that country for six months or more, and you will likely also have to be registered with a local doctor.
We found this out when we started our travels in 2014 – have returned from 4 years working in the USA, we were not registered with a doctor and had been in the country 6 days not 6 months!
Our purchase of a travel insurance policy was severely influenced by this.
If you’re considering travel insurance for Japan, then you can consider a quote from World Nomads for your travel insurance for Japan
Our age and the age of travelers on the same policy
If you’re 55 or old, then you’ll need to review your travel insurance provider. Many companies change their policies at this age and you need to ensure that you’re covered. Nigel turned 59 this year. When you get a quote for travel insurance it’s one of the first questions you’re asked, is your age and the age of travel companions on the same policy.
Pre-existing medical conditions
If you live with and are traveling with existing medical conditions then you’ll usually need to declare them, otherwise, if something happens related o that condition while you’re in Japan then your insurance may not cover it. It’s also worth checking to see if you need to declare if you’re had surgery in the last 12 months, regardless of what that surgery was before you buy your travel insurance policy.
We’re a World Nomads affiliate and World Nomads provides travel insurance. We do receive a fee for any quotes generated via our links to World Nomads, but if you want information specifically about their policies – then you must take this directly from World Nomads.
Risks of Traveling to Japan
The risks of traveling to Japan are no different from other countries and islands in this area – Natural disasters are a common occurrence, and the country is in an earthquake and typhoon zone. The risks of Japanese travel include, but are not limited to
- Health – dengue fever is sometimes present
- Flight cancellations and delays
- Adventure activities carry risks – like diving, skiing, and hiking at altitude.
Always check with your government about the latest risks and alerts issued for traveling to a country. As Brits we follow the guidance of the FCDO – here’s their advice on traveling to Japan.
Why did we buy travel insurance for Japan?
Some people never buy travel insurance and it is possible to anywhere without travel insurance, mostly, if you so choose. Travel insurance for me is to cover me for the unknown.
I’ve broken a wrist (badly) and ended up being treated by a doctor for 8 weeks, including several hospital visits for gastro problems following an incident with dodgy drinking water. We’ve returned home twice for family emergencies, leading to huge cancellation costs and pretty high costs for last-minute flights.
It’s for these reasons we bought travel insurance for Japan.
Travel Tips for Exploring Japan
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Japan > discount coupon here
- Read our guide to the Japan Rail Pass here
- Check the details of the 2023 Japan Rail Pass Increases here
- Buy your Japan Rail Pass before you arrive in Japan
- Book the best tours and guides in Japan on, GetYourGuideand Klook
- Learn to cook Japanese food in Chef’s kitchens in Japan
- Save money in Japan with a Wise debit card
- Find the right accommodation for you via Booking.com
- Book an incredible ryokan experience in Japan
Final words on why we opted for Japan Travel Insurance
We had no issues traveling around Japan. We traveled into Japan on a ferry from Korea and headed south. We took trains all over the country, we took buses, we hiked Fuji, Kamikochi, and part of the Nakasendo Trail. We climbed to the top floors of magnificent castles, we wandered around the onsen town of Kinosaki in a typhoon. We stayed in ryokans, homestays, hotels, and hostels. We ate absolutely everything. And we loved it with the peace of mind that we have coverage for the activities we were undertaking.
Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.
We receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using our affiliate links. We do not represent World Nomads. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.