Yes, but many countries can get one on arrival.
Japan has 'Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements' with the following countries:
For a period of 6 months or less: Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK citizens only)
For a period of 3 months or less: Argentina, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Rep., El Salvador, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal (except when the passport was originally issued in present or former Portuguese colonies), San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and Uruguay
For a period of 90 days or less: Andorra, Australia, Barbados, Czech Rep., Estonia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Monaco, New Zealand, Poland and the USA
For a period of up to 14 days: Brunei
For all nationalities not listed above, a visa must be obtained prior to travelling to Japan. If travelling on business or as a tourist a 'Temporary Visitor's Visa' can be issued at your local Japanese Embassy and usually gives you permission to stay in Japan for a period of up to 90 days. If you are travelling to Japan to work, find employment or live then it is best to call your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate and ask them the best procedure. over 6 years ago