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Travel Insurance for Japan

Compare travel insurance for Japan

published: 11 November 2022
Read time: 10 minutes

Japan is a stunning country and there’s plenty to see and do – here’s how travel insurance can help you enjoy your stay to the fullest

Japan is an incredibly popular destination loved by millions of tourists across the world. From bustling metropolises and excellent cuisine to stunning natural beauties, it has a lot to offer. Will you stroll along paths adorned with pink cherry blossoms? Or will you enjoy sushi and ramen in Tokyo’s many locales?

Whatever your plans, travel insurance for Japan can help you make the most of your holiday. It will provide you with protection in the event of unwanted mishaps, allowing you to truly enjoy a carefree stay.

Why do I need travel insurance for Japan

If you’re visiting Japan, travel insurance can give you invaluable peace of mind for your trip. It can offer financial protection in a number of situations where things can go wrong.

With a solid travel policy in place, you’ll be covered if:

  • You lose your belongings, so you can pay for replacements

  • You fall ill and have to cancel your holiday, so you can get a refund for your flights and accommodation

  • Your flight gets cancelled, so you can make new travel arrangements

Mount Fuji, Japan

What should my travel insurance policy for Japan include?

When you build your travel insurance policy for a trip to Japan, you should aim to include the following cover:

  • Medical expenses:
    This pays for at least part of the medical treatment costs if you become ill or injured in Japan, depending on the amount you take out

  • Cancellation or curtailment:
    For when an emergency causes you to end your holiday early or cancel it before you leave

  • Repatriation:
    For the cost of being flown back to the UK if something happens while you’re away

  • Delayed and missed departures:
    If circumstances beyond your control, such as a car breakdown or adverse weather conditions, make you miss your flight

  • Travel abandonment:
    In the event that you have to abandon your holiday due to extraordinary circumstances

  • Lost baggage:
    This covers the cost of replacing your possessions if any items of your baggage are lost or stolen

  • Lost passport:
    It will help you if you lose your passport. In fact, this can cause a big hassle when you’re abroad, so it’s definitely a policy worth considering

  • Personal liability:
    If while you’re abroad you cause injury to someone else or loss or damage to someone else’s possessions, this will cover you for any costs you might face

Japan travel insurance: exclusions

Travel insurance policies often have exclusions that you won’t be able to claim for, so watch out for:

  • Unexpected incidents:
    Not all policies will let you claim if it’s a result of unexpected incidents such as terrorism, war, civil unrest, or natural disasters

  • Government advice:
    It’s worth checking if the FCDO has advised against travelling to certain regions you’re planning to visit. If they have, it may void your ability to make a claim

  • Under the influence:

    If you want to claim for things like lost possessions or injuries that happen as a result of you being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurer may refuse to cover you

  • Risky activities:
    Likewise, if you want to claim for something that happens while you were participating in risky or dangerous activities, like adventurewinter, or water sports, you might need a specialised policy in order to get cover

  • Pre-existing medical conditions:
    If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll need to declare it to your insurer. This is in case you want to claim for treatment in the event that it flares up while you’re away

Health and medical treatment in Japan

Cover for medical treatment costs is a vital part of travel insurance. Medical standards in Japan are very high, but so is the cost of care, and the UK currently has no reciprocal healthcare agreement in place with Japan.

This means you’ll either face the full costs of healthcare or you’ll be denied treatment if you don’t have adequate cover. It’s also worth noting that some medicines commonly found in the UK are illegal in Japan. Their strict anti-stimulant laws mean certain painkillers or flu remedies are off the table.

What are the travel risks in Japan?

It is safe to say that Japan is a very secure country. It is unlikely that you will experience or be the victim of a crime. That said it is important to safeguard your belongings as much as possible.

The main travel risks tend to be natural disasters, including earthquakes that can sometimes trigger tsunamis. Over the centuries, Japan has learnt to cope with these events, which means you will rarely find yourself in a situation of danger. However, taking out travel insurance that provides cover for natural disasters that may disrupt your trip is always a wise option.

Top travel tips for Japan

Here are some useful tips to bear in mind when you’re travelling in Japan:

1.       Technology is your friend

There are a number of apps you can download to your smartphone that’ll make your time easier while you’re in Japan. Some that come to mind include:

  • Google Translate:

    This can even translate in real time by using your camera, and it is useful for menus and signposts.

  • Google Maps:

    Maps will help you find your way across Japan. Extras like Street View can be useful in helping you spot landmarks.

  • HyperDia:

    This gives you timetables and train routes for getting around Japan. It even lets you know which platform number to go to.

These apps are a big help for travellers in Japan, but they won’t go far if you haven’t got wi-fi or if they aren’t available offline. This is where wi-fi hotspots come in. Public wi-fi isn’t as common in Japan as it is in the UK, so a portable wi-fi hotspot is essential. They’ll give you access to the internet even in many remote places across the country.

If you’re a big fan of cleanliness, hate UK public toilets, and appreciate advanced technology, restrooms in Japan will be a welcome change. Some of them even offer heated seats and sound effects like waterfalls or ambient music for your own privacy.

2.       Etiquette is different

Japanese culture is significantly different to what we’re used to in the UK. Therefore, it’s useful to know how to conduct yourself. Keep the following in mind:

  • Shoes:

    If there are shoes by a building’s entrance, it’s a safe bet that you should take yours off. Wearing shoes inside homes and some other buildings is rude and seen as dirty.

  • Tipping:

    Don’t tip. It’s largely seen as rude as it implies the person you’re tipping doesn’t earn a lot.

  • Bowing:

    Respect is a big part of Japanese culture, and bowing is especially important. Of course, you won’t be expected to know what to do in every situation. But keeping your neck and back straight and bowing back to someone at the same angle as theirs is a good start.

  • Manners:

    Likewise, when you’re in public, you should try to limit the noise you make as sometimes visitors can earn a reputation for being ‘loud’. For instance, if you’re listening to music, use earphones and keep the volume low.

  • Smoking:

    Smoking on the streets is a no-no in some cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. You could face a hefty fine if you do. There are designated smoking areas dotted around, but they’re few and far between.

  • Blowing your nose:

    Blowing your nose into a tissue in public isn’t the done thing in Japan. It’s more acceptable to sniff until you’re somewhere private.

  • Tattoos:

    Tattoos are generally regarded with suspicion due to their long-standing association with criminal gangs. Therefore, you’ll want to cover up any ink before visiting public baths. Bear in mind that you may still be refused access.

  • Purification:

    You will need to go through a purification ritual to wash your hands and mouth before entering shrines in Japan.

  • Littering:

    Japan is, by and large, an exceptionally clean place, even though you won’t find many public bins as part of an anti-terrorism measure from 1995. If you have litter, it’s best to carry it with you until you’re at your hotel or in a shop.

  • Eating:

    Going with the theme of cleanliness, eating while you walk the streets is also something to steer clear of. Stick to shops and restaurants for your meals out.

  • Chopsticks: 
    Don’t leave your chopsticks on or in your rice bowl, as it has funeral associations.

  • Photos:

    You should also try to avoid taking photos of people while out and about. It’s rude and generally frowned upon, unless you get permission.

  • Pointing:

    Don’t point at people either, or at anything really if you can help it.

3.       A not-so-cashless society

Japan is still reliant on cash in the main, so you should ideally come with plenty. It’s also a way to get more! When abroad, you should try to use a card without any foreign transaction fees. But when it comes to cash, you’ll also need a purse, as coins make up the currency between one and 500 yen.

You’ll be able to withdraw cash from ATMs found at local convenience stores (there are plenty of 7-11 branches) and post offices.

4.       Not all big cities and skyscrapers

Heavily urbanised cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima might make up a big part of Japan’s tourism industry. But in reality, over two-thirds of the country is covered in natural beauty. In the almost 3,000km stretch from north to south, you’ll see volcanoes, mountains, rivers, lakes, jungles, forests, beaches, and an array of wildlife.

Places we’d recommend include:

  • Mount Fuji:

    Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and one of its national symbols. Essentially, a must for nature lovers.

  • Mount Aso:

    Another beautiful mountain, Mount Aso also houses the Nakadake Crater at the centre of its still-active caldera.

  • Jogasaki coast:

    The Jogasaki Coast is a stunning stretch across the Izu peninsula, offering attractive views and a 10km hiking trail.

  • Kurobe gorge:

    A forested ravine located in the Northern Japanese Alps, the Kurobe gorge is one of the deepest in Japan. You can even hop on a sightseeing train to take it all in.

  • Akiyoshido cave:

    Japan’s longest limestone cave, Akiyoshido stretches for nine kilometres and features underground waterfalls, streams, and limestone pools.

  • Nachi waterfall:

    Nachi waterfall is the tallest in Japan and has a long history as a religious centre.

  • Iriomote island:

    Iriomote island is another must-see. You’ll be able to take a cruise through the two longest rivers that pass through the landmass to see its dense jungle interior.

  • Lake Mashu:

    Lake Mashu sits in a caldera in Akan National Park. It is one of the clearest lakes in the world, so visitors aren’t allowed to go close to the water.

5.       Try the food

You’ll find plenty of options for eating out in Japan, and some of it you might’ve expected. Try the supermarket sushi for size, as it’s high-quality and isn’t too expensive in most cases. The general rule of thumb is to eat sashimi with chopsticks and use your hands for nigiri. But only dip the fish part into soy sauce, which you should never mix with your wasabi.

Another highlight of Japanese cuisine is Ramen, a noodle and meat- or fish-based broth often served with meat, eggs, and vegetables, garnished with seaweed and green onions. Aside from these two, keep an eye out for:

  • Gyoza

  • Soba

  • Tempura

  • Tonkatsu

  • Udon

  • Japanese curry

  • Yakitori

6.       Transport is efficient

Japanese public transport is somewhat overwhelming at first. The greater Tokyo metropolitan area alone has over 150 lines and 2,000 stations. But when you get to grips with it, it’s actually incredibly well-organised and efficient. As mentioned above, the HyperDia app is a must for getting around, while you’ll also want to take advantage of:

  • A JR Pass:

    A Japan Rail Pass is only available to travellers and foreigners. While they can be costly, they’re often the cheaper option if you plan on moving around a lot. You’ll have access to JR trains, buses, ferries, and even some Shinkansen (bullet trains). You can choose between seven-, 14-, or 21-day passes.

  • An IC card:

    IC cards are prepaid cards you can use to purchase public transport tickets. They also work in shops, restaurants, and vending machines. Buy them at major train stations across Japan, top them up, and tap away. You’ll need a 500 yen deposit, which you’ll get back along with any remaining balance when you return the card to a station attendant.

When is the best time to visit Japan?

There is no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, it depends on what type of experience you are looking for and what memories you want to make.

For instance, if you want to visit Japan during its colourful cherry blossom season, you may want to book your stay between March and May or September and November. However, if you are hoping to practice some winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, a visit between December and February would be your best bet.

Visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka and looking for travel insurance?

If you’re on the hunt for affordable travel insurance for your upcoming holiday in Japan, MoneySuperMarket has you covered. We’ll scour our market and compare the best deals for your needs and pockets so that you can enjoy your trip without any worries.

Just tell us a bit about you and your plans, and we’ll identify the perfect insurance policies for your travels.

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