Drinking Age in Japan

The legal drinking age in Japan has been a hot topic since the law of being an adult changed from 20 to 18 in April 2022. Even though the law changed, there are still many things that can’t be done until you’re 20 years old.


What is the Drinking Age in Japan?

The legal age for buying and consuming alcoholic beverages in Japan is 20 years old. Japan has some of the world’s best sake (obviously), shochu, whiskey, and beer. But to enjoy these beverages, you’ll need to be at least 20 years old.

People Enjoying a Drink Outside a Liquor Store During a Festival

People Enjoying a Drink Outside a Liquor Store During a Festival

Laws around alcohol in Japan may actually seem quite lax compared to the United States.

For example, I’ve never been asked to show my ID to purchase alcohol anywhere. The only obstacle I’ve encountered is having to push a button on a screen at the convenience store register.

What are the Rules for Drinking in Japan?

Besides age, there aren’t all that many rules on purchasing beer, wine, or liquor. There are no restrictions based on the time of day or the day of the week. And you can find, and buy, alcoholic beverages almost everywhere.

Becki at a Cherry Blossom Viewing Party

Becki at a Cherry Blossom Viewing Party

You can even consume it almost anywhere. You can drink on a highway bus, a train, a park bench, the beach, or on the street, and you won’t be breaking the law*.

Keep in mind that social norms may say otherwise. For example, drinking a beer on the Shinkansen is not a problem, maybe even encouraged if you’re on tour with us, but it would be frowned upon to drink a beer on a city bus, a subway, or any other commuter train.

Becki and Shawn at a Cherry Blossom Viewing Party

Becki and Shawn at a Cherry Blossom Viewing Party

It would also be a sign of disrespect to drink alcohol on the grounds of a temple or shrine. Unless it’s a festival and they’re selling alcohol beverages themselves.

Final Thoughts

As always, you should drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, no matter where you are in the world, and be respectful of the people whose country you’re visiting.

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*I’m neither a lawyer nor a lawmaker in Japan. The information in this article is for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as legal recommendations or advice about the drinking laws in Japan.