Visiting Japan? What you need to know about health

Planning a trip is really exciting when you’re thinking about where to go and what to do. There are some other details that are far less exciting to plan. One of these is health requirements, and it’s something that people can overlook.

Japan is a developed country with high standards of medical care and hygiene. Usually there are no particular health concerns about travelling to Japan. With Covid-19 (coronavirus) currently in the news, this has changed and there is greater interest in checking health requirements before a trip.

Covid-19 coronavirus

Obviously this is an evolving situation and advice will change. JNTO provides advice on the current situation on their website, which they are updating regularly. You may also like to check your country’s travel advisory for Japan. Links to some travel advisories are given below.

United Kingdom

United States



New Zealand


News so far has included cancellation of various events, such as public participation in the Tokyo marathon and Anime Japan 2020. The Ghibli Museum and Tokyo Disneyland are closing temporarily, and other tourist attractions are following suit. Check websites before you visit. The following links also have useful lists.

Major facilities and events affected by coronavirus in Japan

List of places in Japan closed due to coronavirus

What’s closed in Tokyo

The information of cancelled / postpone events due to Corona Virus (Kyoto)

Face masks

In Japan, it’s common for a person with a cold (or similar ailment) to wear a surgical face mask. This is to avoid spreading the infection. This can be slightly unnerving to visitors not aware of this, particularly as the first people you encounter wearing masks will be officials at the airport.

In the current environment, some people are also wearing masks as a protective measure, whether or not they have a cold.

Dealing with doctors and hospitals

If you do have the misfortune to need medical treatment, JNTO provides a very useful Guide for when you are feeling ill

The guide has a list of medical clinics and hospitals where foreign languages are spoken, a pointing chart for explaining symptoms, and other useful information. You should have adequate travel or medical insurance to cover treatment costs.


No specific vaccinations are required for entry into Japan, or recommended. Keeping up-to-date with the usual scheduled vaccinations offered in your own country is a good idea. There was an outbreak of rubella in Japan recently.


If you need prescription medication, it is best to take with you enough to cover your stay in Japan. A prescription from a Japanese doctor is needed to get medication in Japan. Taking prescription details from your doctor with you is a useful precaution, just in case you did need to get replacement medication for any reason.

Japan restricts the import of certain medications that are common elsewhere, and also some other medical items such as CPAP machines. Visitors will need to seek permission to bring these items in. This is done by applying for a document known as a yakkan shoumei, which is best done at least three weeks before travel.

The following links explain restrictions on bringing medication into Japan and provide the necessary forms you will need to complete.

Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare medicines information

Bringing medicine into Japan


It is sensible to plan for any health needs while travelling, either current or possible. Most of the time, nothing unexpected will happen, so don’t feel this is being pessimistic or negative. Those people who have had to deal with sickness or accident while travelling will confirm the value of being prepared.

Do you have any questions about travelling around Japan? Please feel free to contact me.

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For further information, the ebook Japan Just for You is a practical step-by-step guide to planning your trip to Japan, starting with developing your own personal trip concept. It’s now available on Apple, Amazon and Kobo, and other stores.