A Complete Japan Packing List (A Guide for ALL Seasons)
Packing for any trip can be intimidating, especially for international travel! Over the years, we’ve collectively spent nearly a year traveling in Japan. This packing list for Japan is ideal for those traveling to Japan for 1-3 weeks but is customizable for those traveling to Japan for shorter or longer lengths of time and is adaptable based on seasons too. Some of the items listed may not apply to you, but here are our top packing tips for Japan!
Initial Items to Pack for Japan
- Rain Jacket: You don’t need this all the time, but if you are traveling during the rainy season (June and July) we highly recommend bringing one to help you stay extra dry.
- Portable Umbrella: However if you don’t want to bring an umbrella you can easily buy one at any convenience store in Japan or 100 yen shops!
- Sunglasses: You’ll be outside for a lot of attractions!
- Travel First Aid Kit: The most important items would be some over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Tums, Immodium, Pepto Bismol, and stool softeners.
- Japan Rail Pass Voucher(s): If you plan on using a JR Pass or a Regional Pass you’ll need to make sure you order them ahead of time and then exchange your vouchers once you’re in Japan.
- Portable WiFi Device Reservation: Information regarding your portable WiFi device such as reservation number, where to pick it up, etc. We like using Japan Wireless for longer trips but if you’re only visiting for a 7-10 day trip then you can also check with your carrier to see if they offer any international plans. We have AT&T and they have an international service plan for $10/day for the first person and $5/day for each additional person.
- Trip Insurance: We usually get ours from World Nomads or Safety Wing, both are great options.
- Camera Equipment (optional): We won’t go through all of this but you can see our gear in this post!
- Portable Battery Pack: Super important for keeping your devices charged while on the go – you’ll be using your phone A LOT.
collapsibletote bags: Use these while shopping around or while visiting a grocery store. They’re also great for holding wrappers or bottles you need to dispose of because Japan doesn’t have many public trash cans except at convenience stores.
- Passport and copy of your passport. Have a copy uploaded to Google Drive so I can access it digitally in case I lose mine and need to get an emergency passport.
- Driver’s License AND International Driver’s License: You’ll need both if you’re planning to drive in Japan (this includes the popular
- Coin Purse: Japan uses a lot of coin currency so you’ll want to make sure you have somewhere to put your change!
- Small Hand Towel: Hand dryers and paper towels aren’t common in public restrooms in Japan. Instead, people carry a small hand towel with them (around the size of a washcloth in the U.S.).
- Soap Sheets: Similar to the hand towel, some public restrooms, especially those at shrines, temples, and public parks, don’t have hand soap. I bring along soap sheets to use while washing my hands in public restrooms.
Packing List for Japan: Kallsy’s Favorites
Fashion in Japan is typically modest, trendy, and modern. Most Japanese women tend to dress up a bit more in staple fashion items of neutral prints. It is not common to see shorter skirts or dresses or shorts, sleeveless shirts, crop tops, or low-cut necklines. Side note: I have no issue with such clothing and wear these things myself, I just wanted to tell you what I’ve observed during my time in Japan.
Women’s Spring and Summer Packing List for Japan
A few examples of outfits I have worn while in Japan during the summer or spring.
We’ve visited Japan many times during the summer and each time I’ve worn a lot of dresses, shirts, pantsuits, and shorts. When I did wear shorts I wore a flowy cover-up to give more coverage for my legs because the sun can be intense when walking for hours a day and I used it as a cover-up for visiting temples and shrines.
- Dresses (2-3): Lightweight fabrics like cotton are perfect for spring and summer in Japan. Typically short-sleeve, knee-length dresses are common although if you are traveling in spring you might also consider a long-sleeve dress and bringing a pair of tights for chillier days.
- Romper/Pantsuits (1-2): If you aren’t interested in wearing dresses or skirts, or you like to have some variety like me, I suggest bringing one pantsuit (or romper). (optional)
- Skirts (2-3): I usually wore long or mid-length skirts that were flowy to help combat the heat!
- Shorts (1): During our three months in Japan from June-September I only wore my one pair of shorts a handful of times. Mostly because I feel more comfortable in dresses and skirts. Of course, if you prefer shorts to skirts then feel free to add more pairs to this packing list!
- Bike Shorts (2): I wear these with my skirts and dresses so I don’t have to worry about an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction but also to prevent chafe when walking around all day. Last, they’re great for days when we have gone hiking or biking!
- Trousers (1-2): While you won’t typically wear pants during the summer, spring in Japan can still be chilly. When we visit in March or April I’ve often worn lightweight cotton or linen trousers.
- Short-Sleeve Shirts/Blouses (2-4): I bring a variety of solid-color shirts so I can mix and match them with bottoms.
- Lightweight Cover-up or sweaters (1-3): In the spring I often bring a few lightweight sweaters and in the summer I bring a lightweight cover-up for when it is needed at the temples.
- Comfortable Tennis Shoes: I always bring a pair of tennis shoes that I feel are stylish, yet comfortable. I also try to bring shoes that are easier to slip on which makes them easy to take on and off when visiting temples or certain restaurants or hotels. You can find more of my favorite comfortable shoes here.
- Comfortable Sandals: Having a pair of comfortable sandals is also a must for summer in Japan!
- Bathing Suit (optional): While you won’t be wearing a bathing suit in an onsen (hot spring) in Japan if you are visiting in the summer and plan to visit a water park or beach this is handy to have!
Women’s Fall and Winter Packing List for Japan
Here are some suggestions for what to pack during the fall and winter seasons in Japan! Again, all numbers below are for a typical 10-16 day trip.
- Trousers (2-3): My go-to options for jeans are always light-wash denim, dark-wash denim, or black denim. I also like wearing loose trousers like the Maeve Colette pants or longer linen or cotton trousers.
- Leggings (1): Great for layering under dresses as needed, lounging in, or hiking/biking.
- Shirts/Blouses (2-4): I often wear long-sleeved cotton shirts and layer with sweaters or jackets during the fall and winter in Japan.
- Sweaters (1-3): Having layers is important when traveling to Japan in any season but especially in fall and winter.
- Dresses (2-3): Mid-length or longer dresses
- Skirts (1-3): Mid-length or maxi skirts
- Tights (1-2 pairs): If you are planning to wear dresses or skirts you might want to bring a pair or two of tights for warmth!
- Comfortable Tennis Shoes: On: The Roger and Nike Air Force 1 are my favorite pair of cute and comfy tennis shoes.
- Comfortable Boots: I suggest boots that are easy to take on and off so it’s easier to visit temples and certain hotels/restaurants.
- Coat (1): Depending on the season and month you travel you’ll want to determine whether you need a heavy coat or medium weight coat. In the winter a long, down-filled coat will provide warmth and comfort.
Additional Items To Pack For Any Season
- Undergarments: Some people say to only bring a few pairs of underwear while traveling and wash them on the go. I’m kind of excessive about underwear and I’m ALWAYS packing extra.
For shorter trips (7-10 days) I typically pack one pair of underwear for each day I’ll be on the trip. For anything longer than 14 days, I bring fewer pairs. For example, for our three-month Japan trip, I brought 15 pairs of underwear! It might seem like a lot but we were typically doing laundry at least every 7 days while on our trip.
- Socks (3-5 pairs): We prefer wool socks because they can be worn a few days in a row, are virtually odor-free, and can be washed and hung to dry. In the winter, thicker and longer wool socks are the way to go, in the summer, no-show or ankle wool socks are the best options!
- Hat (1): In the summer or spring you might consider a sun hat, straw hat, or ball cap (whichever you prefer) to help with the sun. In the winter bring something that is warm and covers your ears! Regardless of which season you visit, having a hat is very helpful to provide some sense of comfort from the weather elements.
- Scarf (1): A thicker scarf makes sense for the fall and winter months in Japan, but a lightweight scarf for spring is also a valuable thing to pack as weather can fluctuate rapidly. It’s also nice to have to cover up to use while visiting temples and shrines. Another option is a scarf with hidden zipper pockets when traveling so you can be more hands-free.
Again, these are just general guidelines and tips based on my own personal style and wardrobe choices. Ultimately the main thing I encourage you to do is to pack what you feel best in and most comfortable wearing! You do not have to go out and buy new clothes to visit Japan! 🙂
Packing List for Japan: Logan’s Favorites
Similar to my packing list for Japan, typical men’s fashion in Japan is also very modern and stylish. Japanese men don’t commonly wear shorts due to the need to wear pants for work however if you are traveling in the summer it is okay to wear shorts. Just know that some restaurants have a dress code policy that requires pants.
Men’s Spring and Summer Packing List for Japan
- Dress Pants (optional): If you are planning to visit any nice restaurants we recommend bringing at least one pair.
- Jeans (1-2 pairs – spring): Logan usually packs a lighter wash and dark wash
jeansto pair with his t-shirts.
- Shorts (2-3 pairs – summer): Something that is lightweight and moisture-wicking is especially important during the summer months. Logan’s favorite shorts are from Lululemon.
- Short Sleeve Button-up (2): If you want to dress up your shorts or pants you can do this easily in the summer with a short sleeve button-up.
- T-Shirts (4-5): The easiest way to pack t-shirts is to choose the ones you feel most comfortable in. Solid colors typically are easy because they don’t require much planning.
- Comfortable Tennis Shoes (1-2): One pair of city walking shoes and a pair of hiking shoes (should you be planning to hike) are all you’ll really need.
- Comfortable Dress Shoes (optional): If you have a business meeting or restaurant that requires nice attire you might want to pack a pair of dress shoes.
Men’s Fall and Winter Packing List for Japan
- Jeans (1-2 pairs): Mugsy jeans are Logan’s favorites.
- Dress Pants (optional): Again, if you are planning to visit a restaurant that requires a specific dress code or have a business in Japan you may want to bring a pair.
- Button-up Shirts (2-3): These can be worn with jeans or dress pants.
- T-Shirts (3-5): Can be long sleeve or short sleeve. Solid colors are best to make packing easier.
- Jacket or Coat: Depending on the month and season you’ll want to consider what kind of jacket or coat to bring.
- Comfortable Tennis Shoes (1-2 pairs): Bring one pair of more stylish tennis shoes and one pair that would be good for outdoor activities such as hiking.
- Comfortable Dress Shoes (optional)
- Hat (1): One that covers your ears is best for harsher winter weather.
- Scarf (1 – winter)
- Gloves (1 – winter)
- Warm socks (3 pairs): Wool socks are typically the best kind of socks to pack as they are moisture-wicking, cool in the summer, and warm in the winter.
Doing Laundry in Japan
If you are concerned with over-packing or have a fear of packing too little, laundry facilities are very common in Japanese hotels or nearby for a low cost. The key thing to know is that you might have to bring your own laundry soap (here is the one we packed for reference) and typically the dryers in Japan don’t fully dry your clothes so consider packing a small clothesline or hanging the items in your room to let them dry completely.
Toiletries to Skip and Pack For Japan
First off, Japan has AMAZING toiletries provided for you in most hotels. We’ve stayed in over 65 hotels, ryokan, Airbnb, etc. while in Japan and have never been without the following items.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner – Usually not in small bottles either, most hotels have nice products in bigger bottles to use!
- Body wash
- Razor and shaving cream
- Cotton swabs
- Small plastic comb
But despite all that here are some toiletries we brought with us to Japan.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste: Yes, we did just mention that the majority of hotels in Japan will graciously give you a toothbrush and toothpaste, but for the sake of using less plastic we recommend bringing your own!
- Body Lotion: Some hotels have this, but err on the side of caution and bring a travel bottle of lotion.
- Hair Brush: If you are fine with a small comb don’t worry about the hairbrush but I have pretty thick hair so bringing my brush is a must for me.
- Face Wash
- Facial Moisturizer
- Sunscreen: Since many attractions in Japan are outside, avoid sunburn in any season by wearing sunscreen, especially on all skin that is exposed.
- BodyGlide: You’ll be doing a lot of walking while in Japan! Avoid chafe by using this (Logan swears by it and now I do too after a full summer in Japan).
- Bug Spray: Especially if you’re visiting during the summer! I prefer Ben’s Bug Wipes because they’re easy to pack and work well.
- Contacts and Prescription Glasses: Even if you don’t typically wear your prescription glasses it’s smart to bring them just in case you need them! If you are a contact lens wearer make sure you bring extra lenses.
- Curling Iron or Straightener: I haven’t ever had an issue using my curling iron or straightener in Japan but if your product doesn’t have dual voltage you might consider buying a travel adaptor for your hot tools. Japan uses A and B-type plugs with 100V and 50/60Hz.
- Make-up Remover Wipes: These aren’t my favorite thing to use on my skin but they are convenient!
- Menstrual Cup or other women’s health products such as tampons or pads.
- Make-up: If you’re wondering what’s in my make-up bag or other recommended products you can look at my list of travel beauty products here!
Special Packing Items for Japan
Again for the sake of transparency with our packing here are a few items that we packed that may not be necessary for you when you’re considering your Japan packing list. But we wanted to include these items because they may spark some ideas.
- Prescription Medicine: For our three-month summer trip to Japan, I traveled with three months of birth control, two EpiPens (for food allergies), and an albuterol inhaler (for asthma). Depending on the prescription medication you take you may have to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei certificate to bring certain prescriptions to Japan. I recommend reading our post on things to know before traveling to Japan for more information on this.
Things You Do NOT Need To Pack for Japan
- Japanese Language or Guide Books: These take up SO much space and will be useless to you as information is very accessible on your phone.
- Excess Toiletries: Again, depending on your accommodations you shouldn’t need a ton of toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, cotton swabs, razor, or even a toothbrush/toothpaste if you wish. After traveling all over Japan for three months we never stayed in a place that didn’t provide the items previously mentioned, even our Airbnb had such items to use!
- Hair Dryer: Every single place we stayed in had a nice hairdryer to use! Save space and weight by skipping this on your Japan packing list unless you’re picky about your hairdryer.
How To Pack For Japan
1. Utilize packing cubes. Packing cubes allow you to put outfits and other items together in one place. We typically roll our clothes and zip them up in packing cubes. It’s super convenient to be able to pull a packing cube out versus sifting through your luggage for the item you’re trying to find.
2. Pack in a backpack or small suitcase. If you can, the easiest way to travel to multiple destinations in Japan with your luggage in tow is by packing everything into a small suitcase or backpack. If you buy the right kind of backpack and pack it correctly it should just feel like a small amount of weight. Two of the biggest reasons we’ve used backpacks for Japan is due to the flights of stairs in train stations and so we can be hands-free.
Lugging around a suitcase can be more challenging because of this, but is not impossible! We typically take small or medium-sized suitcases. The key is to make sure it’s not too heavy. We’ve used small or medium suitcases when traveling in Japan which is a great option too because it doesn’t allow you to overpack! An alternate option is packing in a wheeled backpack.
3. Bring a day bag. This can double as your carry-on or be packed separately but having a day bag to put items like your passport, phone, rail pass, WiFi device, camera, etc is very handy. Here is my favorite day bag and this one is Logan’s favorite.
4. Smart pack your carry-on! (Continued in the next section).
Carry-On Items for Your Flight To Japan
Some of the information on this list is repeated from the lists above. This is what we put in our carry-ons for the plane ride to and from Japan if we end up checking a bag (sometimes we only bring carry-ons).
- Passport (with a case that has RFID blocking technology)
- Card Case with our credit cards.
- Coin Purse: A lot of Japanese currency is coins so you’ll want something to put them in!
- Driver’s License and International Driver’s Permits: This may not be necessary if you aren’t planning to drive in Japan.
- JR Pass Voucher(s): If you are planning to travel by JR Pass you must bring your vouchers with you!
- Information regarding trip insurance: We have booked with World Nomads several times but I also recommend SafetyWing.
- Information regarding your wireless device: If you are renting a wireless device or SIM card, bring the information for pick-up and your order number if you purchase in advance. We like Japan Wireless the best but Global Advance Communications is another option.
- A few light snacks: We usually bring a few protein bars with us. However, do not overpack snacks! Japan has too much good food to waste space on snacks from home.
- Reusable water bottle: Fill up at the airport before boarding!
- Travel accessories kit: These are the things I always put in a small cosmetics bag to make my plane ride more comfortable – earplugs, eye mask, chapstick, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorizing body wipes (these will help you feel refreshed before landing), travel size deodorant, and a pen.
- Travel pillow: We typically bring our Trtl pillow for neck support and/or inflatable pillows so they compress easily! Both are also surprisingly comfortable.
- Clothing: At least one outfit and two pairs of underwear just in case any checked luggage is lost.
- Contacts: We use daily contacts and typically bring at least a week’s worth in our carry-on while checking the rest.
- Prescription glasses: We usually wear these on the plane, make sure to pack your case.
- Portable battery pack + phone charging cords: Most international airlines have one plug per person for charging but we always bring our portable battery pack as a backup.
- Laptop + charger: This may not apply to you, but if you do plan to bring your laptop make sure to bring it on the plane. You cannot check items with lithium batteries.
- Camera Gear: Camera, lenses, batteries, etc. Here is our photography gear.
- One extra pair of socks
- Logan usually travels with his iPad and Apple AirPods Pro, whereas I typically watch movies on the plane or read a book on my CloudLibrary App on my phone. Make sure you download movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu, Max Max, etc a day or two ahead of time!
We hope this packing list for Japan has been helpful! The last thing we want to point out is that should you forget anything (minus prescriptions) you should be able to buy something similar to what you forgot while in Japan so don’t worry and enjoy your trip!