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I plan on taking photos of everywhere I go in Japan and am wondering if there are certain places, e.g. airports or possibly temples, where photos are not to be taken.

A link to online resources would also be welcome.

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Japan, birthplace of the camera phone, is relatively photo-friendly if you are taking candid pictures for your personal use with your own camera (i.e. not for publication or resale and not using a tripod or professional equipment). Places where photography is expressly forbidden will be marked by signs. By and large, these are the same places where you can expect photography restrictions in any part of the world: some religious sites, some museum exhibits, some stores or businesses, security checkpoints, or military facilities. Other places may have restrictions on flashes, or simple common sense should tell you not to use a flash, such as train platforms, construction sites, or love hotels.

But these days, my sister tells me, there are a lot more signs. Even some street displays and storefronts have prominent "no photography" signs posted. Perhaps this is a backlash to the ubiquitous cameras, and problems like like people taking pictures of manga or magazine pages instead of buying them, or clandestine shots being posted to voyeur websites. So, it will be important to communicate intent. Department stores and boutiques are very sensitive about people taking pictures of their trendy displays and products, though you will find people taking pictures of products to research later. Similarly, people are sensitive to having their faces plastered all over Flickr without their knowledge, regardless of intent. But if you approach an individual and ask to have your picture taken with him or her, he or she may well say yes in order to indulge a foreign visitor.

I'm not aware of any canonical resource on photography restrictions, aside from a very very dated photo.net guide (the comments are more enlightening than the article).

Somewhat more recent discussions include

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1798973

http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+55769

  • "or simple common sense should tell you not to use a flash, such as train platforms, construction sites, or love hotels" - I wonder why it should be common sense not to use flash on a train platform, a construction site, or (within one's booked room in) a love hotel. Now, if you had mentioned a zoo, or an infant ward, I could understand. – O. R. Mapper Jan 4 '16 at 12:54
  • @O.R.Mapper: Late to the party but: Flashes on a train platform, especially when a train is in approach, can blind/distract the driver, same goes for construction site. For love hotel, I think taking photo at all is inappropriate, even more if faces are on it, let alone with a flash. – DrakaSAN Aug 3 '16 at 14:24
  • @DrakaSAN: I see now concerning train platforms and construction sites. As for love hotels, I suppose it is individually different whether one considers taking photos appropriate (assuming everyone depicted agrees, of course). – O. R. Mapper Aug 3 '16 at 15:22
  • @O.R.Mapper: As you said, sensibility differ from individual to individual, not from culture to culture, but in that context, I think it is appropriate to err on the safe side and not go willy nilly with a camera :) – DrakaSAN Aug 3 '16 at 15:29
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    @DrakaSAN: For completeness and clarity: I was thinking of loving couples who draw back into a room and are free to take whichever photos they like there together, not about barging/sneaking into other people's rooms, observing other visitors, or photographing professionals at work. – O. R. Mapper Aug 3 '16 at 15:53

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