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Electricity and plugs in Japan: What you should know

Will my hair dryer or hair straightener work in Japan? Can I use the electronics I bought in Japan in my country? These, and others, are the most common questions visitors ask about electricity and plugs in Japan, and we have some answers for you.

Japan voltage – Plugs in Japan

Let’s start by clarifying that, Japan’s electrical standard is 100 volts (100V). Comparing it to the North American standard of 120V, most of Europe at 240V and Australia and New Zealand at 230V and other countries or areas, it also differs from all these places.

However, how that difference actually manifests itself is very different between different regions, let’s see all about electricity and plugs in Japan, don’t worry.

What are the plugs like in Japan? (Japanese plugs)

plugs in japan
Japanese plugs

You should know that the plugs used in different regions and countries vary, and the plugs in Japan are similar, but not exactly the same, for example the Japanese plug is like the ungrounded version of the American 2-pin elongated plug. By this I mean that Japanese plugs fit into an American grounded socket, but the question is: Will Japanese plugs work properly? To answer these questions, here are some tips for using electrical appliances in Japan and beyond.

Normally we always bite and enter the Donki, which offers various electrical items or shopping items, just like in Akihabara (although here the prices are very high).

Tips for the use of electronic devices in Japan and abroad | Power Plugs in Japan

Here is our list of tips for plugs in Japan:

Tip 1: Voltage in Japan | Sockets in Japan

  • Tip 1: Bring an electrical converter if you come from a country that uses the 230/240V standard, for example in our case in Spain.

This applies particularly to appliances that have a heating element, such as hair dryers and curling irons, or hair straighteners.

Many personal electronic devices, such as phone chargers and laptop chargers, have a variable voltage and it is easy to check this, as the information will be printed on the charging block itself or on a label failing that. For these types of chargers, you will not need a converter.

Tip 2: Electronic appliances from America work in Japan | Plugs in Japan

  • Tip 2: North American electronics work in Japan without the need for a converter, so if you are from there you are in luck, if you are from South America (Latin America), you will have to check your voltage as the Latin American voltage ranges from 100 to 240V.

The difference between Japan’s 100V and North America’s 110/120V is nominal, so you will have no problem using your electronics in Japan or the plugs in Japan if you are North American.

However, you may have trouble plugging them into a Japanese outlet, which brings us to our next tip.

Tip 3: Bringing a power adapter to Japan | Power plugs in Japan

plugs in japan
Power adapter
  • Tip 3: Carry a universal plug adapter that converts to 2 prongs. The standard Japanese plug accepts 2 plugs of equal size. Even some North American plugs will not fit Japanese outlets because one plug is slightly larger than the other.

While you can probably locate an adapter after arriving in Japan, it’s no fun, or good for your wallet, to worry about finding a store that sells one when your phone’s battery is rapidly approaching zero percent.

The bad thing about being from Spain, Europe or Latin America is that they won’t work in the sockets in Japan, so you should always carry one of these with you.

As we said before about electricity in Japan: The standard Japanese plug has 2 pins of equal size.

Tip 4: Price of a Power Adapter for Japan | Power Plugs in Japan

  • Tip 4: If you need a cheap power adapter for Japan, try the 100 yen stores and electronics chain stores. If you forget to bring an adapter, you may be able to find something cheap at the many 100 yen discount stores in major cities (and sometimes smaller ones, it’s all about looking).

Electronics stores such as Don Quijote (Donki), Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera probably also carry adapters.

Tip 5: How to plug an adapter into the Japanese power socket | Power sockets in Japan

plugs in japan
Sockets in Japan
  • Tip 5: To plug a 3-pin adapter into a standard Japanese 2-pin socket, you can try using a multi-plug adapter in between.

Sometimes, all you need to do is plug in your 3-pin adapter (for a laptop, for example). Some multi-plug adapters are designed so that you can plug in the 2 main plugs while leaving the third ground plug out. For a short-term solution, this will work in a pinch.

Tip 6: Buy Japanese electronics to use at home | Plugs in Japan

  • Tip 6: Japanese electronic devices can work in your country, but of course with an adapter, unless you buy one in Japan already adapted to your country’s plug, some stores sell your country’s plug whether you are from the EU or Latin America.

If you are North American, on the other hand, you will have better luck, as the voltage difference is nominal and plugs in Japan fit North American outlets, so electronics purchased in Japan should work in North America with no problems.

Read on, as tip 9, because you may have other non-electricity related problems, such as limitations, all was not going to be gold if you are from North America.

Tip 7: Voltage 240V in Japanese sockets for your country | Plugs in Japan

  • Tip 7: For 230/240V markets, e.g. Spain, EU, and some Latin American countries, there are stores that sell electronic products of export models, as I mentioned before.

If you buy a Japanese electronic item in a normal store to use it in a 230/240V country, you are taking a calculated risk, because anything can happen, and nothing good.

If you want to avoid the risk, there are stores that sell electronic models ready for export duty free, for example if you would like to take a Japanese rice cooker and not use it in one of the plugs in Japan but at home. In Tokyo, for example, you will find these stores in large shopping areas such as Akihabara or Shinjuku.

Conclusion: Some Japanese electronic products should be bought in duty-free export stores, so that they have your plug, and you don’t always have to have a Japanese plug with adapter at home.

Tip 8: Converting from power in Japan | Plugs in Japan

  • Tip 8: You can buy a converter to use a Japanese electronic item in a 230/240V region, but the converter itself is already quite expensive.

There are ways to make your 100 V electronics usable in your home country at 230/240 V using a step-down transformer, but it is much more convenient, cheaper and possibly safer to find a store that sells export-ready electronics in Japan, as mentioned above, and there is no problem at customs.

Tip 9: Limitations of appliances with Japanese plugs | Plugs in Japan

plugs in japan
Appliances with Japanese plugs
  • Tip 9: Just because an electronic device works in your home country doesn’t mean there are no limitations. Some electronic devices, such as some digital cameras and camcorders, may not have menus in your language, and that is very painful, to buy something and then have it not work properly.

DVD players may be region-locked. Cell phones may not work on your country’s mobile/cellular network. Be aware of these other possible restrictions when buying electronics to take home.

Again, if you do business with a store that sells export electronics, they should be able to answer all your questions beforehand and prevent you from wasting time and money, better to always ask and if you don’t know Japanese, use the translator.

I haven’t covered all the details in this article, but if you have questions about electricity in Japan or plugs in Japan, feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer them quickly.

Summary of plugs and sockets in Japan

The voltage used throughout Japan is 100 volts, A.C. There are 2 types of frequencies in use: 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan (including Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka).

Some types of electrical appliances, such as dual-voltage hair dryers, travel irons and shavers, should work anywhere in Japan. In other cases, however, a step-down transformer is needed to convert the voltage, so don’t put it in directly or you may cause a major accident, fire, or power outage.

If you need to charge your appliances or computer on the go, the new shinkansen models have power outlets next to the window seats. If you want such a seat, ask the staff when you buy your ticket, specifying that you need to charge your electronics.

Some burger chains and family restaurants have Japanese plugs with adapters.

In urban areas, it is relatively easy to find devices such as conversion plugs and transformers in stores. They are sold in electronics neighborhoods such as Akihabara in Tokyo and Nipponbashi in Osaka, or in major appliance stores such as Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera, so don’t worry, but we advise you to buy them before you go as plugs are very, very expensive in Japan.

Buy power adapter Japan – Buy Japanese plug

We leave you some ideas since buying it in Japan can be very expensive, and we will also show you one of the ones we use there: anyway, all the ones we show you are adapters for Japan and other parts of the world, so you don’t have to buy one for each place and travel with only one:

When you go on a trip what we like most as travelers is to have the best possible experiences, so these activities that I show you below, can be the best experiences you will have on your trip to JAPAN.