Taking Pictures – How to ask for Permission to take Photos in Japanese

Are you wondering if you should know how to ask the permission to take photos in Japanese? When you are in Japan, you will find yourself reaching for your camera more than once. Whether you are facing an interesting scenery, an incredible building, an old town or people, you will want to seize the moment.


Concerns about Privacy
Do’s and Don’t’s
Asking for Permission to take Photos in Japanese 

Concerns about Privacy

Although Japanese people are strongly associated with cameras – to the extent that every caricature of a Japanese person features glasses and a camera, they are in fact very concerned about privacy and image right. Yes, it might come as a surprise, but Japanese people care greatly for manners when it comes to taking picture and rules regarding personal information.



Do’s and Don’t’s

In Japan, you might think twice before taking a picture as you might be scolded for breaking the rule. Let’s review the DOs & DON’Ts for cameras.

The kanji for prohibited are 「禁止」「きんし」”kinshi” and photography prohibited would be indicated with 「撮影禁止」「さつえいきんし」”satsuei kinshi”. 

At the Restaurant:

If you do not notice any signs prohibiting photography, it is perfectly acceptable to take pictures. That being said, as it is the convention in Japan to eat hot food while it is still hot and cold food while it is still cold, avoid the temptation to do a photoshoot. The chef might not be far!

Public Places:

The least we can say is to be discret and careful. Try not to point your cameras to obviously as it may cause concerns regarding privacy. The exception would probably be all the popular touristic spots.

In Trains and Public Baths:

Although you may try your shot in a Japanese train, do not take pictures in a public bath. As beautiful and interesting as it may be, it causes more than concerns for image right. Except if you have the chance to visit a public bath outside opening hours.

Temples and Shrines:


Photography is often prohibited in temples or shrines. There are usually signs denoting this, but if not, it is best to check with someone. It is probably fine to include a priest as part of the scenery, but they may not appreciate having the camera pointed directly at them; not necessarily for religious reasons, but they may consider it bad manners.


Asking for Permission to take Photos in Japanese

Rei 1 Kankouchi
Kankoukaku: Sumimasen.  Kokowa shashin wa daijyoubu desuka?
Gaidosan: Hai, daijyoubu desuyo.
Iie, Koko wa dame desune.  Demo soto wa OK desu.
Example 1: Sightseeing area
Tourist: Excuse me. Is photography all right in here?
Guide: Yes, it is fine.
It is prohibited in here, but it is OK outside.
Rei 2 Michi
Kankoukaku: Sumimasen.  Kimono, kirei desune.  Shashin o tottemo iidesuka?
Kimono wo kite iru hito: Ee. douzo.
A, iya, chotto…
Example 2 On the street
Tourist: Excuse me. Your kimono is beautiful! May I take a picture?
Person in kimono: Yes, go ahead.
Oh, um, that’s a little…
Let’s check the essential vocabulary to ask if you can take photos in Japanese:
…wa daijyoubu desuka? → Is ~ all right?
…temo iidesuka? → May I ~?
Douzo. → Go ahead.
Chotto… →  That’s a little…, Not really.
Dame. → Not allowed.
Credit CC BY-SA 2.0: Takashi Hososhima
Title: Super star Domo
source: Flickr

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo, find out more about our courses and please visit our contact page here.

If you are interested in studying Japanese, find out more about our school by filling out the form below.

Test your Japanese level!

Do a self-test to see which course fits you.

Check your level