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How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

When looking at social media, foreigners often report being scammed at Japanese izakayas. Therefore, foreign tourists are often afraid of being overcharged at Japanese izakayas. As a Japanese person, I feel embarrassed that such scam izakayas exist.

However, overcharging foreign tourists is not unique to any particular country; it can be seen in tourist destinations around the world. This is because foreign tourists do not speak the local language, and their stay is often short, making it unlikely that they will report scams. So, how can you avoid being scammed?

How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

5 Tips on How to Avoid Scam Izakayas

Today, I will share five tips to avoid being scammed at Japanese izakayas. By following these five tips, you can almost completely avoid scam izakayas.

1: Never Follow "Street Solicitors"

The most important thing is to never follow "street solicitors." By avoiding street solicitors, you can prevent most scams.

Many bustling areas in Japan have street solicitors. They block your way or follow you in public places, trying to lure you into their izakaya, bar, or restaurant. This behavior is illegal under Japan's Adult Entertainment Business Act and nuisance prevention ordinances. Violators can be fined up to ¥500,000, detained, or face a minor fine. Establishments using street solicitors can be fined up to 1 million yen. In busy areas, there are announcements in Japanese warning that "street solicitation is a crime. Do not follow them." However, foreign tourists who do not understand Japanese may fall victim to these scams.

Since street solicitors are already engaging in illegal activity, they are more likely to commit fraud, including overcharging. Additionally, if they need to use street solicitors to attract customers, it means their food is subpar or their prices are unusually high. Therefore, never go to izakayas that use street solicitors.

How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

2: Go to Ground-Level Establishments

There are fewer scam izakayas at ground-level establishments. Scam izakayas know they are engaging in illegal activities, so they avoid places where customers can easily escape. Bright, ground-level establishments where you can see the inside from the outside are generally safer.

3: Go to Izakayas with Many Japanese Customers

Scams target foreign tourists who do not speak the language and have short stays in Japan. Therefore, izakayas, with many local customers, are less likely to scam you.

An izakaya with many Japanese customers likely has delicious food, good service, and honest billing practices. This is because they need to ensure a pleasant experience to retain their local clientele. Nobody revisits a scam izakaya.

How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

4: Go to Izakayas in Areas with Few Foreign Tourists

Areas with many foreign tourists tend to have more scam izakayas, as they target tourists who do not speak the language and are only in Japan for a short time. Conversely, areas with few foreign tourists have fewer scam izakayas.

Kagurazaka, where our company offers izakaya tours, is a safe area with very few scam izakayas. This is because Kagurazaka has very few foreign tourists, and most of the customers are locals. Scamming familiar local customers would drive them away, making it impossible for such establishments to continue operating.

Kagurazaka has 209 izakayas (according to Tabelog data as of the end of May 2024). With so many izakayas in a small district, the competition is fierce. A scam izakaya would quickly stand out and be forced to close. Foreign tourists worried about scams should come to Kagurazaka, one of the safest areas in Tokyo, and enjoy izakayas.

How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

5: Go to Izakayas with a Trustworthy Japanese Guide

Going to an izakaya with a trustworthy Japanese guide greatly reduces the risk of being scammed. A trustworthy Japanese guide knows that street solicitation is illegal and can recognize the signs of scam izakayas. Even if you accidentally enter a scam izakaya, the Japanese guide can speak the language and is a local resident, making it possible to report the scam to the police. Therefore, scam izakayas are less likely to target foreign tourists accompanied by a Japanese guide.

However, there is a possibility that some malicious Japanese guides might collude with scam izakayas. This is why it is important to go with a "trustworthy" Japanese guide. You can determine whether Japanese guides are trustworthy to some extent by checking if they belong to a registered travel agency.

Travel agencies must register with the Japan Tourism Agency or local governments. If they engage in illegal activities, their registration will be revoked. Therefore, the likelihood of malicious Japanese guides working for registered travel agencies is very low. Enjoy Japanese food culture by going to quality izakayas with "trustworthy" Japanese guides from registered travel agencies like ours.

Additionally, going to an izakaya with a "trustworthy" Japanese guide allows you to learn not only about food culture but also about various aspects of Japanese culture, history, and daily life. Considering the reduction in scam risk and the enriching communication with knowledgeable Japanese guides, don't you think the cost of an izakaya tour is quite reasonable?

Here are five tips to avoid scam izakayas. Enjoy a wonderful izakaya experience in Japan.

How to Avoid Scam Izakayas: Five Tips to Avoid Scams

Experience Authentic Izakaya Culture: Guided by Locals in Hidden Tokyo

Our company offers tours where we take foreign tourists to izakayas. For those wondering, what is izakaya? An izakaya is a type of informal Japanese pub where people gather to enjoy drinks and a variety of dishes. We assist those who struggle with Japanese-only menus by providing interpretation services. Our guides also provide fun explanations of foods and menu items unique to Japan. Would you like to enjoy a fun time at an izakaya with an English-speaking interpreter guide?

The places we take you to are located in the heart of Tokyo, specifically in Kagurazaka, a top gourmet area yet little known to many foreigners. Kagurazaka is home to many wonderful izakayas hidden in alleys known only to locals. Why not experience authentic izakaya culture at izakayas frequented only by Japanese customers?

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How to Access Kagurazaka

The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.


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