Tokyo Warnings and Dangers
Tokyo is probably the safest large metropolitan city in the world. Even so, here are some warnings about potential dangers to be careful about when visiting Tokyo.
Packed Subway Cars
This is a particular risk that women have when riding on crowded subway cars. When the cars are so full that people are packed in like sardines, it is not uncommon for women to be touched by men in inappropriate places. On the over-used routes, there are train workers at the subway stations that literally shove the people into the cars and it is very uncomfortable to be smashed next to the other people like that as well as very difficult to get off at the proper stop.
To avoid this problem there are women-only subway cars to use (usually, the last train car) and it is best for all tourists, including men, to avoid traveling by subway during the commute times.
Roppongi is the popular nightclub area in Tokyo. There are hundreds of bars and nightclubs of all sizes, from intimate bars with a few seats to massive nightclubs for dancing. Male tourists complain that they get ripped off by the bar bill.
Some report that at “The First Bar” in Roppongi they were drugged by the female bar hostesses to make them almost pass out and then their credit card was used to charge thousands of dollars of the most expensive champagne.
To avoid this problem, always ask for a menu before placing an order. If the bar is a hostess bar expect the drinks to be very costly and to be charged outrageous prices for the soft drinks ordered by the hostess. Pay for the bill using cash, not by using a credit card.
Although there are ATMs all over Japan, the vast majority of them will not accept a debit card from a foreign bank and only work with Japanese cards. This surprises many foreigners who try to use them. It is best to have plenty of currency with you when you go out. There is almost no risk that it will be stolen. Street crime in Japan is almost nonexistent. The other tip is to look for Citibank ATMs because they accept all international debit cards.
Local Customs and Laws
It is illegal to use mobile phones on subway trains. It is illegal to take photographs or videos of the police. Carry your passport with you at all times because any police officer may request to see it, even if you have done nothing wrong. You may also run across police checks when walking in popular areas or if driving. There are severe criminal penalties for possession of recreational drugs, including even the tiniest amounts of marijuana.
Speaking loudly is a sign of anger in Japan. Many foreigners naturally have a loud booming voice and may frighten Japanese people when speaking. Men do not open doors for women. If a man and a woman are walking together and need to enter an elevator or take an escalator the woman will stand aside and let the man go first.
Driving in Tokyo is very challenging. Unless you happen to British, you will find driving on the left side of the road difficult and you may easily make a dangerous mistake. It is best to use taxis instead.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in Tokyo.
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