As is probably the case in your country, you are required to obtain permission in advance in many situations. As we explained in our section on Japan’s unique rules and culture, because of Japan’s bureaucratic and divided system, these processes can take up to 1.5 times longer than your expectation. CueRio will make sure that all the permits are in place before the shoot date.

Filming on Public Roads

Most of the roads in Japan, including pavements, are classified as public roads. To film on them you will often need to obtain a Road Use Permit from the local police station. If you are filming with about five people without any casts, you do not need to obtain it, but if you are filming on a larger scale with casts, you will need to apply to the police station in advance. You will also need to be aware that there are roads where filming is completely prohibited.

To apply, you will need to submit the following directly to the police station.
- An application form for a Road Use Permit
- A map showing the location where you wish to use(a printed Google Map is acceptable)
- A drawing (handwritten is acceptable) showing how the road will be used, including the position of staff, cameras, and cast
- Excerpts from the programme proposal or script

In Tokyo, it takes about 2-3 days to receive a Road Use Permit, although there are differences between police stations.

Filming in a building or facility

You may often wish to film in a public or private building. In both cases, you may not need to ask for permission if you just shoot the exterior of the property from a distance, but usually, you need to apply to the owner in advance.

In this article, for your reference, we will introduce the process of applying for filming of a movie clip in a park owned by Shibuya Ward in Tokyo. You can apply for a filming permit from one month to five days before the filming, by going directly to the Shibuya Ward Office.
You need to bring the following items in person.
- Two types of application forms
- A script, proposal, or storyboard that shows the details of the shoot
- Applicant's stamp
The fee is 35,000 yen per hour and each shoot is limited to 3 hours. It takes about 5 working days for the application to be approved.

The above is for use of a park in Shibuya Ward, and of course, the application process, fees, and time required to obtain a permit will vary depending on the organisation that owns the facility. But please don’t worry. CueRio will ensure that the application process goes smoothly.

Filming on public transportation

If you are filming on public transport such as trains or buses, you will need to apply for filming, even on a small scale. The main railway system in Japan, including the bullet train, is owned by a privatised company called JR (Japan Railways) and Tokyo is under the jurisdiction of JR East.

In this part, we will explain the process of applying to JR East for filming. Whether you wish to film at a station or other facility, or on a train, you will need to submit your application at least two weeks before the filming date. The application should be made to a subsidiary company called JR East Planning Ltd. and requires the following documents.
- Application form
- A written pledge (pledge to keep your word in all filming and preparatory activities)
- A plan of the shoot
- A proposal, script, or storyboard showing the details of the shoot
The cost of filming including facility rental, attendance, and coordination costs, will be calculated depending on the scale of the filming.

We have introduced the case of JR East, but there are also smaller private railway systems in Japan, where the application process is less complicated and the costs can be reduced. If you are not particular about a train line or location, we recommend that you consider this option.

Filming with a drone

There are many restrictions on flying drones in Japan. Most importantly, there are restrictions on flying drones in “Densely Populated Areas”, so you will need to get permission before taking a drone shoot in the city.

“Densely Populated Areas around Tokyo” (Source: Geospatial Information Authority Map (

The following is a list of cases where prior permission is required. Please note that where to apply differs depending on the situation.
To Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism
- Densely Populated Areas
- Night flights
- Out of eyesight flights
- Flights at a distance of fewer than 30m from people or buildings
- Flights over event areas
- Transport of dangerous items
- Dropping objects
To the Airport Office
- Around the airport
- Over 150m above sea level
To the local government
- No-fly zones regulated by an ordinance
To the owner or manager
- Over private property
To the local police station
- Airspace over public roads
Applications must be submitted to the appropriate authorities at least 10 working days prior to the planned filming date. We recommend that you start your application 3-4 weeks before your date, as there is currently a high demand for applications, and it may take time for the application to be processed.

We have a number of excellent drone operators at our partner filming production 104, so please leave everything from application to actual drone shoot to CueRio.

Filming negotiation for individuals

When you ask to film an individual for an interview, you may need permission from the company or organization to which the individual belongs. In Japanese society, there is a stronger sense of belonging to their organisation than in many other countries, so many people may refuse to give an interview without permission from their affiliation. It is therefore advisable to consider the time to get permission from their organisation and start negotiations as early as possible.

In this article, we have explained the process of obtaining permission for filming in Japan in a number of situations. It may be more complicated and time-consuming than in your country. However, if you consult CueRio in advance, rest assured that we will get the filming permit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *