Because of this question, I remembered that I read somewhere that some places or bars in Japan ask for your passport for identification (Old article, can't find it now).

Should I bring it with me everywhere I go in Japan?

Post-trip update :

I got checked in JR Shinagawa Station (in Tokyo). Good thing I had my passport with me.

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    Well, your passport is usually your sole form of official identification when abroad. As I don't leave my house in my home country without an ID, I've never walked in a foreign country without my passport. Sounds strange to me what people said in the question you mentioned about not having a passport with you all the times . – gmauch May 26 '15 at 17:30

Yes, not because the bars and hotels want to check it (some will), but because the police have the authority to stop you in the street and demand identification and the proof that you are staying in Japan legally.

Source: got checked for passport in JR Tokyo Station.

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  • Was there any reason you were inspected except for being a foreigner? Just curious. – Calchas May 26 '15 at 23:06
  • @Calchas I looked disoriented and was wandering around; that’s probably why. – alexlur May 26 '15 at 23:09
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    Actually, hotels are legally required to check and photocopy your passport if you are a "temporary visitor" in Japan, and most (though indeed not all) comply. – fkraiem May 27 '15 at 9:27
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    Update : I got checked in JR Shinagawa Station (in Tokyo). Good thing I had my passport with me. – Zaenille Jun 29 '15 at 2:50

In my experience, no.

I spend approximately four/five weeks in Japan each autumn. Usually in the Osaka area but sometimes I have business or leisure elsewhere in other cities. I have only ever been asked for my passport at the airports, car rental places and at hotel check in.

No one at a restaurant, bar, supermarket or corner shop has ever asked me to prove my age when buying alcohol. Indeed in the shops they look embarrassed and press the "Yes I'm over 20" button for me---probably as a courtesy assuming I cannot read it. (For comparison I am occasionally asked for proof of age in other countries. I went to a Morrison's in the north of England yesterday actually and had to produce a driver's licence to buy an ale!)

So, officially maybe you should take it, but in practise it isn't worth the risk of losing it.

In Japan, age restrictions on alcohol are not a big deal. There are vending machines selling beer everywhere.

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    You've been lucky so far. You're legally required to carry your passport (immi-moj.go.jp/english/tetuduki/zairyuu/ryoken.html), foreigners do get stopped by police for ID checks, and if you don't have your passport/Japanese ID on you, it's off to jail until somebody else can fetch it and come get you. Needless to say, this can be a major pain to sort out if you're a solo tourist. – lambshaanxy May 26 '15 at 23:46
  • My hosts always told me not to worry about the regulation! Perhaps I'll reconsider that. – Calchas May 27 '15 at 11:55

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