Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs have revolutionized several industries. From innovative delivery services to stealth reconnaissance missions, their potential is limitless. Drone photography gives photographers access to unique perspectives and spectacular bird’s eye snaps of landscapes.
With Japan being a popular destination for photographers of late, you might be wondering whether you can fly your drone in Japan. Navigating legal regulations can be tedious, so here are some pointers I would like to give you.
Legal Regulations To Fly Your Drone in Japan
According to the country’s National Aviation Authority, it is legal to fly a drone. However, you would need to be aware of and adhere to certain regulations set forth by the JCAB or Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.
Two sets of laws determine where you can engage in drone photography in Japan. Japan’s Aviation Act dictates that you’re not allowed to fly your UAV at a height greater than 150 meters if you’re using it in a populous area or near airports, power lines, and trains. You would also be prohibited from flying a drone at events or festivals.
You’re not allowed to fly your drone at night since the laws state you need to have a visual line of sight with your drone always. The second set of laws for flying a drone in Japan is dedicated to prefectural or municipal acts. For example, in the Tokyo Municipal Area, you’re prohibited from flying drones in gardens or public parks. Other prefectures allow aerial photography in Japan with drones in certain areas like parks.
You don’t require an official certification as a drone pilot to fly your drone in Japan. So it is not compulsory to have any prior training before you fly a drone. However, in certain restricted zones, you’ll need to fill out a document called “Hiko Kyoka Shinsei” to obtain drone flying permission.
You can download this form and send it by post or grab a copy from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Tourism. I would suggest you fill out the form well in advance since the process takes quite some time.
Buying, Renting or Bringing a Drone
Being one of the most important technology hubs in the world, you can buy a drone in Japan at any renowned electronic store. You’ll have quite a range to choose from, including toy drones or full-fledged professional ones.
You could also rent a drone for a particular amount a day if you just want to test the waters of aerial photography in Japan. If you’re getting your own drone, ensure that you pack it well to prevent damage and carry its manual in case you have a run-in with customs.
While the rules to fly your drone in Japan aren’t that strict currently, it’s important to respect the existing regulations. If you have a doubt, go through the official site of JCAB or ask a police officer to guide you. The rules may become more stringent in the future, so keep an eye out for any updates before you travel.