So you’re thinking about flying a drone in Japan?
There is a lot of information online but most of it is out there on dense government websites, all in Japanese. So, I thought I’d clear things up. Fortunately, it’s a lot less complicated than it looks! This post will let you know everything about drone regulations in Japan. Generally speaking, you don’t need permission or licenses to get started — just a drone and a map!
The Laws on Drones
First of all, drones are still absolutely legal to fly in Japan – the laws that have passed just make it safer to fly for everyone. You can’t fly over crowds of people over a certain distance, you can’t fly near airports, and you can’t fly in densely populated areas. No flying over power lines and trains, or in public parks. But this is all common sense.
If you are flying in a safe fly zone, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Unrestricted areas across the country are required to stay below 150 meters (492 feet), and also be kept at least 30 meters (98 feet) from people, buildings, and vehicles. For more details on the drones regulations in Japan, here is a link to the official government page. Yep, that’s it. We also notice that there is a website that is solely dedicated for drones laws in Japan http://dronelawjapan.com/
This means that Tokyo is pretty much off limits since there are people, parks, trains and power lines everywhere. But venture outside of the capital and you’ll discover many opportunities to fly freely.
Fly Zone Maps
Drones are legal and you don’t need a license. Great. So where to fly? Fortunately, DJI, the world’s largest manufacturer of drones, has made it very easy to check on this page.
Just type in the place you’d like to go in the top left corner. Red means no-fly zone, and unless you have special permission like above don’t risk it (there’s a hefty fine). As you can see Tokyo is a no-go.
Everywhere else is generally fair game and is a safe-fly zone. But I always recommend checking this before taking your drone out anywhere. As you can see, Tokyo is in a sea of red. Don’t fly in Tokyo.
Being a drone “pilot” sounds cool but maybe seems like an inaccessible skill to learn. In the United States you have to register with the FAA while in other countries there’s reams of paperwork to be done.
But in Japan you actually don’t need any sort of certification or license to fly a drone. Nor do you need to register your drone with any 3rd party. You can simply buy one and fly, as long as you’re in a safe fly zone as outlined above.
If you would like to fly in a restricted zone, you’ll have to get permission from the government. There’s a document that you have to fill out online (飛行許可申請 – hiko kyoka shinsei, in Japanese) and send to them by post.
Last time I tried to get permission there was a three to four week-wait as they were “flooded with requests.” I suggest sending it far in advance. If you are unsure whether or not you can fly at a certain venue then you should simply ask the venue/building owner. Many places are cool with it, especially outside of Tokyo.
In summary, you can pretty much fly your drone outside of Tokyo. Before flying always check the DJI map and make sure you are in a safe fly zones. Lastly, if you’re unsure then make sure to check with the building owner or government.
Ready to fly? Some of my personal favorites are Kawaguchi-ko near Mt. Fuji, Hokkaido, Okinawa, Okutama (west tokyo) Mt. Takao, and Shizuoka. All safe fly zones!
You can rent drones here on Seranova, or if you’d like to purchase one in Japan visit the DJI store. If you have any questions/inquiries drop me a message anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wayne Simonds says
You do not happen to have any experience with 3DR Drones do you?
Hi, Your website is very helpful. I would like to take my Drone in Japan wondering if the DJI no fly zone is reliable? i’ve seen some parts in kyoto and nara that are not restricted areas but scared that police will just pop out of nowhere and detain us. Thank you and i appreciate your response.
Are we allowed to fly Spark around Lavender and flowers farm in Hokkaido?
Some people say Farm Tomika not allowed to fly.
Is that true?
Hey, it’s possible the regulations have changed on that. If there are people around, then no, it’s not safe/not allowed to fly. My suggestion: When you get there you can simply ask the staff at the ticket counter at the Flower Farm if it’s ok to Fly.
If not, Hokkaido is big, and you can probably drive 5 minutes out and likely find something!
Mark Weiss says
If you’re an American, Japan doesn’t recognize your driver’s license, so you cannot drive in Japan.
I’m planning to capture some great videos and photos of Mt Fuji at Lake Kawaguchi.
Am I allowed to fly there?
If Yes, where is the best spot? Both view of Mt Fuji and without triggering unnecessary alarms to the people around me.
Be careful, with Japanese anti-foreigner who do not know the law and do not want you get some fun.
a lot of Japanese are narrow-minded, just follow the law and ignore other people noise.
even some Japanese policemen do not the law and will bother you.
Hi, Can I fly my DJI MAVIC AIR at Kawaguchiko Lake and nearby area ?