What basic health precautions should I take in Japan?

  • In Tokyo, there is daily contact with many people. Wash hands often with soap and warm water. Keep a sturdy handkerchief to dry them, or buy hand sanitizer when you get there.
  • Gargle every day when you get home, and take a shower every night. Wash your clothes often.
  • Japan is a mask culture. Masks are worn in public for a variety of reasons, from bacteria and virus protection to prevention of pollen inhalation. Consider wearing a face mask while going around Japan, especially in crowded places.
  • If you are diagnosed with the flu, follow the doctor’s directions about staying home and taking all medicine prescribed. Staying home keeps the flu from spreading; crowded trains and so on are Petri dishes for the flu. It is expected that you stay home until you are not contagious.
  • Tap water is safe and pure throughout Japan. Many people do drink bottled water because they prefer the taste, or for convenience.
  • We advise you not to get tattoos or piercings while you are abroad. Some piercing and tattoo studios may not use proper sterilization techniques; it’s hard to tell.
  • AIDS is a worldwide epidemic. As in the U.S., it is most commonly transmitted through sexual relations with an infected person. If you are sexually active, take precautions against AIDS as you would in the U.S. Other means of contracting the virus are sharing needles, exposure to infected medical instruments, or bad blood transfusions. Protect against other traditional sexually transmitted diseases as well.
  • Since you never know how well your body may adjust to new eating and drinking habits, bring some anti-diarrhea medication. (Check with your doctor.)
  • For government travel alerts, read the bulletin board regularly at the KCP office or visit the U.S. State Department’s website.

Some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water.
  • To reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, always use latex condoms.
  • Don’t eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.