Why Japan Is a Paradise for Female Solo Travelers

Updated on July 26, 2019
Ria Fritz profile image

Ria is currently teaching English to kids in southwest Japan. She loves helping travelers make the most of their limited time.

Solo traveling as a woman can be daunting. Here's why Japan should be your first solo destination.
Solo traveling as a woman can be daunting. Here's why Japan should be your first solo destination. | Source

Traveling alone as a woman will always have its risks, but some countries are much safer than others. Additionally, some countries are simply much more enjoyable as a group. It can be easy to feel isolated in a country where everyone else travels in a group or where the locals avoid talking to tourists.

While Japan has a reputation for being polite and professional, it certainly isn't an unfriendly country, and its low crime rate means that it's incredibly safe for solo travel. Women can find lots to do here, and they generally don't have to worry about getting back to the hotel before sunset.

Female Tourists Are Respected

Make no mistake: Japan is no paradise for women in general. Most workplaces have a strong glass ceiling, especially for women who have children. Corporate cultures tend to be tolerant of casual misogyny and even sexual harassment.

That said, though, catcalling and harassment toward tourists is almost unheard of—at least from Japanese men. You may get through an entire trip where the only street interactions you have are with over-enthusiastic junior high school boys yelling "Hello!" at you. If you ever encounter any serious problems in Japan, it'll probably be at the hands of another tourist!

If you like socializing at bars, you will probably never encounter anything worse than a man who has had one too many drinks and decides to tell you midway through your conversation that he thinks you're beautiful and wants to marry you. At that point, an awkward laugh and tilt of the head are all it takes to shut down the conversation. Japanese men can typically take a hint.

There Crime Rate Is Low

Violent crime in Japan is rare, and pickpocketing and theft are almost unheard of outside of tourist areas. Walking between the train station and your hotel is generally safe, although covering large distances on foot after midnight is not recommended. (If you do have to walk home late at night due to lack of funds for a taxi, stick to main roads and don't take any shortcuts!)

Trains in Tokyo and Osaka can be packed full during rush hour, and this occasionally results in gropings and other incidents. Fortunately, dealing with a train groper can be as simple as grabbing the offender's wrist, lifting his hand, and yelling "chikan" (groper). This usually causes him to flee immediately. While it isn't always possible for the police to track down and arrest a groper, public shaming goes a long way in Japan.

Some train lines in Tokyo and Osaka offers women-only train cars during rush hour. Train groping is rarely a problem outside of rush hour or on inter-city trains, so don't lose any sleep over how to stay safe during your travels.

Bars and Nightlife

Like with anywhere in the world, travelers of any gender or group size have to be careful about nightlife. Take standard precautions by watching your drink and purse. Bars in some parts of Tokyo, especially Kabukicho, prey on foreign tourists by charging exorbitant amounts. When in doubt, ask if there's a cover charge ('chaaji') or just ask how much it is ('Ikura desu ka?')

Friendliness Abounds . . . If You Want It

Japanese people typically mind their own business unless you act friendly. If you want to be left alone, staring at a book or smartphone is typically enough of a signal. If you make eye contact and offer a friendly "konnichiwa" at a bar, you might get asked where you're from, and the conversation can go from there.

Unfortunately, the language barrier tends to be enough to keep the conversation from getting too deep. Though English is taught in Japanese schools, most adults aren't conversational. Still, using Google Translate can go a long way if you're up for chatting! If you travel frequently, having some photos of your recent trips on your phone can be great for breaking language barriers.

Solitary Adventures Are Often the Most Memorable

Japanese culture knows the value of spending time alone. Shopping malls and arcades are rarely packed with families and groups of friends like they are in Western countries. Many restaurants are designed with the single diner in mind and have ample counter space so you don't have to stare at an empty chair while you dine. Japan's beautiful mountains and countryside are often best enjoyed alone, since you can take them at your own pace.

Plus, as a woman traveling alone, you can go to the hot springs whenever you want! Just don't be surprised if you get interrogated by some of the curious older women there. While Tokyoites will keep to themselves, other, more rural onsen don't get as many foreign guests, and curiosity may get the better of them.

Sometimes train delays muddle even the best-laid plans, or a last-minute single seat opens up at a popular show in Tokyo. In these cases, traveling alone will be what gives you the experience of a lifetime. You can jump at whatever opportunities open up—and in Japan, you don't have to spend extra energy or time worrying about the safest way to make the leap.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Ria Fritz

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        You give an interesting insight into travel in Japan.

      • poppyr profile image

        Poppy 

        2 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

        The safety is one of the big reasons I love japan. This is a great article packed full of useful information!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)