Sailing and Boating in Japan

Information on the rules on boat licences and sailing permits, the sea safety recommendations, maritime weather and more...

Japan has over 6,800 islands and Tokyo is located on the main island of Honshu. The northern part of Japan can be cold in the winter and the southern part of Japan is in the monsoon belt. Strong currents can also present a challenge to boating in Japan.

For more information about sailing in Japan, see the Noonsite website.

Sail Japan is a website for English-speaking sailors in Japan. It has information on harbours, tides, local weather and classifieds with boats for sale.

Safety and Emergencies at Sea

Marine Emergency Tel: 118
Tokyo Metropolitan Police Tel: 119
Tokyo English-speaking Police Tel: 03 3501 0110 (weekdays 08:30-17:15)
Coast Guard Tel: 03 5564 2022 / 03 5564 2021
Fax: 03 5564 2029 / 03 3599 0924

It is important to check weather reports before setting out to sail or participate in any other watersports as weather conditions can change very rapidly.

Rules and Regulations

A security check is required to enter Japanese waters. When first arriving in Japan a “Security Information of Ship" must be reported to the Japan Coast Guard at least 24 hours before arrival at port.

Boat registration and inspection

All watercraft operating in Japan need to be inspected and registered with the exception of:

  • Fishing vessels operating within 12 sea miles from shore
  • Craft operating in special areas designated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, for example in areas of water within amusement parks
  • Small craft less than 3m in length, and with an engine power of less than 1.5 bhp

The national agency responsible for the registration and inspection of watercraft is the Japan Craft Inspection Organization.

Boat licences

A boat licence is required to operate any personal watercraft in Japan, with the exception of boats less than 3m in length and boats with an engine power of less than 1.5 bhp.

It is possible to take the boat licence examination in English. This can be done in April or October. The test involves a physical, written and technical examination and is administered by the Japan Marine Recreation Association.