7 Biggest Tourist Scams in Japan and How to Avoid Them!

Biggest Tourist Scams in Japan

Discover the 7 biggest tourist scams in Japan and how to avoid them!

From rip-off bars to fake monks, I’ll guide you through each scam, offering tips to keep you safe.

Stay informed, avoid pitfalls, and make the most of your trip. Keep reading to ensure a scam-free and enjoyable adventure in Japan! 😊

1. Rip-off Bar Scam


Nightlife in Tokyo is brimming with fun and excitement. However, you need to be wary about rip-off bars. Most of these scammers target first-time travelers exploring Kabukicho and Roppongi.

This type of scam lures tourists by offering them special drinks. The friendly nature of the tout makes it easy to fall into this kind of trap.

Upon entry to the bar, you will be pressured to buy expensive drinks. If you pay via credit card, you might be overcharged.

To avoid this kind of scam, do your research on the places you’re planning to visit.

Choose only prominent establishments with good reviews. Lastly, always check the prices before making an order and the receipt after paying.

2. Fake Monk Scam


During your exploration around Tokyo and Kamakura, you might come across monks. However, don’t fall for their traps. These fake monks dressed in robes usually offer blessings in return for donations.

As masters of their schemes, they use books and other religious items to support their claims. They would insist that your donations are helpful for religious pursuits.

If you spot a monk walking on the busy streets, move the other way. If the person approaches you, politely decline and leave. Avoid conversing with them so that you will not be manipulated.

Remember, real monks are found in temples and not on the streets. Plus, they never impose blessings and demand donations. So, always keep this in mind during your travel.

3. Disaster Relief Scam


Just like fake monk scams, there are other people who make use of disasters to get some money.

The disaster relief scams are orchestrated by con artists, pretending to be good people. They would collect money from tourists to help victims of natural disasters.

These people are incredibly skilled in acting, using emotional stories to gain your sympathy. Some may even use props to back up their claims, like fake badges and IDs.

You can find most of these scammers in busy areas, like tourist spots and train stations.

Avoid getting scammed by only donating to reputable organizations. If someone approaches you, never give cash directly.

4. Overpriced Rickshaw Rides


While rickshaw rides are such an enriching experience to explore the cities, scams can still happen.

In places like Asakusa and Kyoto, some drivers may take advantage of tourists like you. They overcharge the rides by not disclosing the prices beforehand.

Prevent this from happening by asking the cost of the ride upfront. You may negotiate on the price and set agreements to avoid exorbitant rates at the end.

Also, don’t forget to check reviews online and choose from dependable rickshaw services.

It always pays off to be proactive and prepared when traveling. Confirm the prices before availing of any service.

5. Photography Scam


In busy spots like Shibuya and Harajuku, there’s another rip-off called the photography scam. Most of these schemes target attractive and fashionable travelers, especially females.

Someone with a camera approaches you to compliment your physical look.

They would then ask you if they can snap some photos of you. Most of these con artists would claim they are modeling scouts to know your personal details.

Always be wary in this kind of situation because you might fall victim to harassment.

Some may even be forced into joining the adult entertainment industry. Remember that a genuine scout wouldn’t randomly approach you on the street.

In case you come across this kind of scam, just refuse the offer politely. Never share your personal information and avoid unnecessary conversations.

6. Romance Scam


If it’s your first time visiting Japan on a solo trip, be aware of romance scams. This type of rip-off targets solo travelers by luring you through their charms.

They would act as locals and expats who want to establish a relationship with you. They do it online or in person. During your short relationship, they will create stories, fabricating a crisis.

With convincing tales, they will ask for financial help and manipulate you emotionally.

Dodge the bullet by being cautious, especially for persons whom you’ve just met. Be wary about sharing personal information. Never send money to a person you haven’t met in real life.

7. Rail Pass Scam


There are also scammers that thrive in fake Japan Rail Passes. These fraudulent sellers aim at tourists who want to save money on transportation.

They would offer cheaper rail pass tickets that are either invalid or inaccessible. Some would even push you to buy multi-day tickets, making the scam more distressing.

Steer away from the rail pass scam by checking websites thoroughly. Only purchase tickets from authorized travel agencies and official vendors.

There are several trusted sources online. You just have to do your research diligently.

Always double-check the site before making a purchase. And if the price is too good to be true, there’s a high chance of getting scammed.

Since the JR Pass had a significant increase last October 2023, you may want to assess your decisions. Evaluate if you really need to buy one according to your itinerary.

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