Whether for swooping footage of\u00a0wide-open plains or spectacular bird's-eye view shots of urban cityscapes, drones have become a popular part\u00a0of the travel kit for explorers keen to capture their surroundings. But what do you need to know before flying your drone in Japan? The legal stuff The laws and regulations surrounding drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) as they tend to be called\u00a0in official\u00a0documents, differ greatly by\u00a0country. Luckily for us, Japanese law\u2014at least as it currently stands\u2014is quite straightforward, classifying a vehicle as being a drone when it cannot carry a person and weighs more than 200 grams. Where you can actually fly a drone in Japan is determined by\u00a0two sets of laws. The first is Japan's Aviation Act, which tells us you are not allowed to fly a drone higher than 150 meters in the air, over densely-populated areas (so no fly-overs of Tokyo's Shinjuku, for example), or\u00a0near airports. In addition, it is strictly prohibited to fly a drone at night or during events and festivals. Getting close to power lines and trains\u00a0is also a no-go. The second set of laws is derived from prefectural or municipal acts. The Tokyo Metropolitan area, for instance, has banned the use of drones entirely in its public parks and gardens. Other municipalities only allow drones in designated parks. DJI, one of the world's most prominent producers of drones, provides\u00a0a free map that you can check\u00a0to be safe. If you are still in doubt, ask a local police officer or attendant, because the penalty for flying a drone illegally can be a whopping fine of ! To be licensed or not to be licensed? That is the (next) question While getting a "drone pilot" certificate might make you sound like you are ready to star in a new take on Top Gun, you are not actually required to have any form of training before flying a drone in Japan. There are, however, restricted zones where you'll need\u00a0to have been granted prior permission to operate a drone. The form is called a hiko kyoka shinsei in Japanese and can be acquired from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (or online here)\u00a0and sent in by snail mail. The paperwork requires you to be quite confident in using Japanese and the process can take quite a while, so it is only for the most adamant of drone pilots. Buy, rent or bring your own drone in Japan Here, as\u00a0in many other countries around the world, drones have enjoyed a spike of\u00a0interest recently. Major electronic retail stores such as Yodobashi and Bic Camera carry a wide variety of drones. Ranging from simple toy drones for\u00a0a few thousand yen to fully-fledged professional drones costing close\u00a0to a million, there are plenty of options to choose from. The best idea\u00a0for those wanting to try out a drone before committing themselves is to rent one for a day. SeraNova offers a DJI Mavic, a small drone with stabilized camera and a flight-time of about 30 minutes, for just per\u00a0day, with a minimum rental period of three\u00a0days. Already have a drone? Many people bring their own drone with them in a suitcase or even carry-on. Just make sure you pack it safely so it does not get damaged, and bring a manual with you in case customs or security happens to ask about it. That's it from us for now\u2014happy flying!