I was visiting a shrine in Tokyo and I took a picture of the front of the shrine. After I got back home and reviewed the pictures, I noticed that there was a small "No photography" sign tucked away that I missed when I took the picture.

The question: Are there any consequences that may result from this?

While I understand that it is culturally frowned upon to do this, my question relates to the legal aspect of the situation. In particular:

  • Could I be charged criminally (e.g. go to jail)?
  • Could I be barred from entering Japan in the future?

Having done some searching here, I found two questions that are similar: No-pictures buildings in Japan (shooting from street forbidden by law) and Taking photos in Japan

However, I did not take the picture from the street (it was taken from a small path that led up to the shrine), and I would like to know the legal implications, not just the cultural implications.

  • 2
    "Are there any consequences that may result from this?". Ninjas...
    – Taladris
    Sep 25, 2016 at 1:53
  • 3
    Unless it's on the scale of surreptitiously photographing military facilities in North Korea, I don't believe a simple tourist photo of a cultural site where pictures are prohibited is likely to haunt you for the rest of your life. Sep 25, 2016 at 3:03

1 Answer 1


I photographed the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which not only had "no photo" posts (which I agree are not very visible), but also had a police presence - probably due to the Shrine's controversial nature. The officer calmly came to me and said "no photos", to which of course I obeyed. That was all; he didn't even ask to delete the photos taken.

Asked my hotel reception about it later, and they said the prohibition is to protect the privacy of those worshiping there; people don't feel comfortable worshiping when someone is taking photos, and for a centrally located famous Shrine, which attract a lot of tourists who'd take photos nonstop. This could be further confirmed that at some other shrines in Tokyo there were no "no photo" signs.

Considering the above, it is very unlikely you'd get arrested or worse, as long as you're obeying the officer instructions. I know people who were arrested and detained of taking photos of military installations in Russia (dumb indeed), but even they were eventually released after few hours - although without the camera - after an interrogation and background check.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .