Overall, Japan is a safe country, making it ideal for tourists who want to be free to travel wherever they please. However, no country is completely danger-free. In fact, there are a few slums in Japan as well as several red-light districts. It’s useful to be aware of these places before you start exploring.
The largest homeless population in Japan is in Kamagasaki. Many tourists on a shoestring budget are attracted to the low prices of the accommodation in this area, but you should be aware that the neighborhood is known for organized crime. Plus, a large number of riots to protest human rights have occurred in Kamagasaki over the years. These began in the 1960s, but the most recent was in 2008.
Not only is Kabukicho the biggest red-light district in the country, but it’s also the largest in the world. Although it does attract tourists, there’s a good reason why police in the area are sometimes dressed in riot gear. Kabukicho can be safe enough if you’re heading to a specific restaurant, but you should definitely avoid promoters in the street who are trying to bring tourists to their businesses. Plus, host and hostess clubs are particularly risky as you’ll likely find you’ve racked up a huge bill when you leave.
If you decide you will visit Roppongi at night, you need to stay alert. Dangerous scammers operate in the area — the US Embassy has even warned citizens to avoid bars. Follow a promoter, and you may end up robbed, assaulted, or even kidnapped. Furthermore, even regular bars can be dangerous if you drink too much.
There’s more crime in Shinsekai than in most of Japan, mostly because the neighborhood is neglected. However, levels of organized crime are lower today than they were in the 1990s. Shinsekai started with high ambitions when it was designed in 1912 (the north is based on New York and the south on Paris), but it gradually deteriorated. Finally, a fire burned a tower in 1943 and much of the steel from the amusement park went toward the war effort. Most Osaka residents tend to stay away from Shinsekai. If you do visit, keep your wits about you.
Although Ueno is fine during the day, this is a place to avoid at night. Many homeless people sleep in the park, and the entire neighborhood becomes a less pleasant place to visit after around 9:00 p.m. Besides, since there’s minimal nightlife, there’s not much reason to spend time here after places like museums and the zoo are closed.
These are the main places in Japan to avoid for safety reasons, but you may also like to avoid tourist traps to have a more authentic experience and steer clear of the crowds. The good news is almost the entire country has low crime rates compared to much of the rest of the world, and you can travel virtually anywhere other than the above without worrying about your safety.