Traveler Essentials

Smoking and Trash Rules

General smoking rules

The law prohibits the purchase and smoking of cigarettes to persons under the age of twenty. Cigarettes can be bought in tobacco stores, convenience stores and at vending machines, although purchase from vending machines is only possible with a TASPO card, a photo identification card which verifies the holder’s age.

In April 2020, a new smoking law, which prohibits indoor smoking, fully came into effect. Smoking indoors is prohibited in general principle. If it is allowed in restaurants, it can be done only in a designated smoking room which is used only for smoking, and not for eating. If it is e-cigarettes that are being smoked, it can be done in a designated area which allows eating. In smaller restaurants and bars, if smoking is allowed, a sign must be posted clearly at its entrance. Many hotels offer non-smoking and smoking rooms, but the number of fully smoke-free lodgings is on the increase.

Designated smoking areas

Smoking in public especially while walking is frowned upon. Most cities and towns prohibit smoking on the street and provide designated smoking areas.

To address the issue of secondhand smoke, smoking is prohibited in many public spaces, including streets, parks, and outdoor areas. Instead, designated smoking areas, known as “kitsuenjo” or “smoking corners,” are provided to accommodate smokers. These areas are typically marked with signs or have designated smoking booths or sections with ashtrays.

Designated smoking areas can be found in various locations, such as train stations, airports, shopping centers, and some outdoor dining areas. When using designated smoking areas, it’s important to be mindful of others and adhere to proper smoking etiquette. Dispose of cigarette butts properly in the ashtrays provided or designated containers. Vaping and e-cigarettes are also subject to regulations in Japan. While vaping is generally allowed in designated smoking areas, it’s crucial to check the specific policies of each location, as some may have restrictions on their use.

Take care of your garbage

Japan has a strict system of waste sorting and separation. Different types of waste must be separated into specific categories, such as burnable, non-burnable, recyclable, and organic waste.

As a tourist your main trash bin is probably in your hotel room where the hotel staff will do the separating for you. When walking in the city or travelling around you will notice the general lack of trash bins, which is very common. Japan doesn’t really have trash collection from public spaces, so it is always good to carry a waste disposal bag with you. This ensures you can properly dispose of your waste without littering and helps maintain cleanliness.

Where to find trash bins

Convenience stores or konbinis will usually have a trash sorting and collecting bins inside, where you can separate the burnable, PET bottles and cans. Many train stations and bus terminals have the same options and some department stores too. It should be noted that these waste bins in the stores are for the convenience of customers. If you have just popped in there to discard your trash, it’s a good idea to at least try to be discreet.

Trash bin for PET bottles and cans can usually be found next to vending machines, but you should not put any other garbage in them.