Do you have to wear a mask in Japan?
- No, unless you’re very close to other people.
- But most Japanese wear masks when they’re outside.
- Yes, unless you are more than two meters (six feet) from other people and not talking.
- But almost all Japanese wear masks when indoors.
On Public Transport
Commentary by Chris
Foreign visitors to Japan may be surprised at the mask situation in Japan: Most Japanese faithfully mask up both indoors and out, whether or not they are near other people. The government has been trying to change this habit. Months ago, they announced that it wasn’t necessary to mask outdoors unless you’re very close to other people. And, more recently, they announced that you could remove your mask when indoors if you’re not talking and at least two meters from others.
But government policy and social customs are two different things. Japanese don’t usually care if you go maskless outside, but if you remove your mask indoors – even when it’s okay to do so according to the regulations – be prepared to get a lot of nasty looks from the Japanese people around you.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get essential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)