Life in Japan

High-risk actions: Legal knowledge for daily life

Yaaay team April 16, 2024
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To fully enjoy life in Japan, it is essential that it be safe and secure. Knowledge of the basic laws, ordinances, and rules concerning daily life is very important to avoid getting into trouble by unknowingly committing illegal acts or violating manners.
In this column, we focus on rules and manners of smoking, bicycling, and jaywalking.


In Japan, they take passive smoking seriously. In spots like restaurants and shopping malls, you can only smoke in designated smoking rooms/areas. Lighting up anywhere else is prohibited by law. 
When a smoking room is designated, the establishment is required to display a pictogram indicating its smoking policy. (Exceptions exist, such as bars, which may permit smoking throughout the establishment; in such cases, the smoking policy is also indicated at the entrance.) 

Regulations regarding outdoor smoking vary across municipalities. For instance, in Tokyo, certain wards have established designated smoking areas within the city while prohibiting smoking on streets outside these zones. When smoking outdoors, it is necessary to ensure compliance with local regulations.

Cycling Rules & Manners

Bicycles are often used in daily life in Japan. Traffic rules and manners may be different from those in your country, so be careful not to violate the rules.
Cyclists in Japan are prohibited from using umbrellas or smartphones, talking on a phone, or playing games while riding. Riding double is also prohibited. When you ride a bicycle with a small child, you should seat them in a children’s seat and have them wear a bicycle helmet.
Cyclists should ride on the left side of the street, and use the bicycle parking lot for parking their bicycles (If your bicycle is parked on the street/sidewalk it may be towed. You will be charged if you wish to have your bicycle returned).


Unlike in the United Kingdom, for example, where pedestrians are free to make their own judgment on whether it’s safe to cross the road, Japan has strict laws on jaywalking.

The penalties for ignoring traffic signals, including pedestrian crossing lights, are up to three months in prison and a fine of ¥50,000. That’s quite a lot of money to pay just for crossing the street, so it’s better to just follow the rules!

When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

Every country has their own set of rules and manners, and you should respect and follow them while you are there. As the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", so be aware of the rules of Japanese life and enjoy living in Japan!

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