To Take A Picture In Japanese

By | 18/08/2022

Every country has specific rules when it comes to photography, and Japan is no different.

Earlier you visit Japan, you need to familiarize yourself with a few laws. Read our guide on how to avert getting in problem and how to go on your Nippon photography respectful.

a Japanese street scene at night
Photograph by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

Always Inquire for Permission Before Y’all Photograph

There isn’t a constabulary that prohibits street photography in Japan. As long every bit yous don’t share your photos publicly, you can take photos of anyone. Merely just because there is no rule doesn’t make this any more respectful.

Many Japanese people feel uncomfortable with the idea of confronting strangers. Fifty-fifty if y’all take a photo of a stranger who doesn’t react harshly, yous might finish up offending them or ruining their solar day. Avoid this at all costs.

If a certain cosplay outfit or face stands out to you, ask the person for permission to take their photo. You might not get the candid shots you want. At least you’ll terminate your trip to Japan knowing that y’all didn’t disrespect anyone, though.
a group of Japanese girls in traditional dress posing for the camera

If Yous Can’t Get Permission to Postal service a Photograph, Blur the Person’due south Confront

Japan is very strict when it comes to photo publishing laws. If you lot didn’t get permission from the model, you accept no right to post your photos online. Japanese people are very individual, so sharing a photo that has a recognisable face up is a bad idea.

If you lot already have a few candid photos that yous want to share online, you can blur out any visible faces. This might ruin your photo, just information technology’south the only mode to stay respectful without asking for permission.

Many Japanese people and foreigners utilise this technique online. It might not be great for portfolios, merely it’s a overnice manner to share details about your trip in a blog format.
Japanese girls in traditional clothes under a cherry blossom tree

Be Prepared to Show Your Photos to the Police force

Keep in mind that this happens very, very rarely.

In some cases, the constabulary might find your behaviour suspicious and enquire you to bear witness them your photos. This shouldn’t be a trouble if you follow basic common sense and take photos of everything respectfully.

If this happens without a cause, don’t go offended. This is Japan’s manner of respecting its citizens’ privacy.
a Japanese man waiting for a train

Don’t Use Selfie Sticks in Crowded Areas to Avoid Injuries

This might seem similar a given, but it’s a common problem in many tourist destinations. Selfie sticks are fun and can make for cool selfies, merely they’re not the all-time tool to use in crowded areas.

Because of their length, selfie sticks might striking someone or get stuck somewhere. Information technology might be a better idea to not bring a selfie stick with you at all.

Instead, you lot can ask someone to take a photograph of you or take a regular selfie photo.
a person taking a photo with a smartphone

Photography Etiquette in Cafés and Restaurants

Most cafés and restaurants are open to photography. But make sure you inquire the chef or waiter for permission to be safe. In most cases, they’ll be more than happy to let you lot take a photograph of your meal.

It doesn’t matter if you’re taking professional or coincidental food photos. Make sure you don’t include whatever visible faces in your shots. If you do, call back to blur them out!
traditional Japanese food

Don’t Employ Flash If Yous’re Taking Photos at Night

Nihon is filled with vibrant neon lights, which makes information technology one of the best countries for nighttime photos. Some tourists like to use flash to capture this dazzler conspicuously. In most cases, flash is both disruptive and unflattering.

You tin take much nicer photos without a flash. Employ a higher ISO number and place your camera on a tripod. This will make your photos await more professional person. The prototype above is a great example of this.
a Japanese street scene at night

People and Things to Avoid

  • No-photo areas:
    Japan tries to make its restrictions as clear as possible to tourists. If you see a no-photo sign somewhere, turn your camera off and enjoy your surroundings instead. No-photo signs are common in shrines, supermarkets, and some marketplace stalls. If yous feel that you shouldn’t exist taking photos somewhere, fifty-fifty if information technology doesn’t take a warning sign, ask someone well-nigh it.
  • Children:
    This is a given, fifty-fifty though many tourists continue to photograph Japanese children. No thing how vibrant their uniform is, you shouldn’t take photos of children. Unless you know the parents and have permission to photograph them.

street portrait of a man with his back turned to the camera

  • Geishas:
    Maikos (apprentice geishas) and geishas are deeply respected in Japanese culture. If y’all see 1 outdoors, don’t ask her to pose for you. Information technology’s likely that she’s as well busy to waste product even a few minutes of her time on a tourist. If you want to accept a proper photoshoot with a geisha, you lot tin hire one.
  • People on public transport:
    This is very like to Japanese street photography rules. Public transport tends to be very crowded, so it’south usually a bad thought to take photos of others. If someone feels uncomfortable, they won’t exist able to walk away every bit freely as they could in an open area.
  • Praying people:
    If you visit a shrine, you might come across people in the center of a prayer. Don’t take photos of them to respect their privacy.
a Japanese Geisha walking down a street
In some cases, you can take photos of geishas if their faces aren’t visible and if you’re non standing in their style.

Common Japan Photography Questions

Is Street Photography Legal in Japan?

You’re allowed to take street photos simply you lot need permission from the models to publish them. If there aren’t whatsoever visible faces in your street photos, you tin publish them online.

Where Can I Take Pictures in Nippon?

You can take photos in most public places in Nippon. If y’all’re taking photos for commercial purposes, you need to get a shooting let.

If there aren’t any no-photo signs around, information technology’south probable that y’all can take pictures there. If you’re not sure, ask a local for advice.

Tin can You lot Photograph Someone Without Their Consent?

Y’all tin photograph someone without their consent, but this is usually considered disrespectful. Instead, inquire someone for permission before you take their photograph.

If you lot desire to share a photo of a stranger online, make sure you blur their face before you lot share it.

Where Can I Take Pictures in Tokyo?

There are many beautiful temples, streets, and markets in Tokyo. Most of these places are open to the public, so you can freely take pictures there. A few popular Tokyo destinations are The Purple Palace, Ginza Commune, and the Meiji Shrine. We accept an article on all-time photo locations in Tokyo to check out likewise!

Traditional Japanese photo
Photo past DSD from Pexels


While it might seem like Nihon has many strict rules, it’s actually very open to photographers.

As long as you follow common sense, you’re likely to have an amazing photography feel in any part of Nippon.

For more travel advice for photographers, why not read our complete guide to taking travel photos.