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This post was updated January 2021
A Complete Japan Packing List (A Guide for ALL Seasons)
Packing for any trip can be intimidating, especially for international travel! Over the past few years, we’ve collectively spent about 4 months 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-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 a number of 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, and stool softeners.
- Japan Rail Pass Voucher(s): You’ll exchange these 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.
- Trip Insurance: We always get ours from World Nomads.
- Camera Equipment: 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.
- Passport and copy of your 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
Ladies Packing List for Japan
Female 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 rare to see extremely short skirts, dresses or shorts, sleeveless shirts, crop tops, or low-cut necklines. Side note: I have no issue with such clothing, just wanted to merely tell you what I’ve observed during my time in Japan. 🙂
During the summer we spent in Japan I wore a lot of dresses, shirts, pantsuits, and occasionally a pair of shorts or a romper. When I did wear shorts or a romper I wore a flowy kimono over to give more coverage for my legs because the sun can be intense when walking for hours a day!
A few examples of outfits I wore while in Japan.
Ladies Spring and Summer Packing List for Japan
- 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.
- Rompers/Pantsuits (1-2): If you aren’t a dress gal, or you like to have some variety like me, I suggest bringing one romper and/or one pantsuit.
- 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 2 more pairs to this packing list!
- Pants (1-2): While you won’t typically wear pants during the summer, spring in Japan can still be chilly.
- Short-Sleeve Shirts/Blouses (2-4): I brought one white, one yellow, and two patterned cotton shirts with me.
- Lightweight Kimono Cover-up (1): I usually purchase mine from TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Amazon.
- Comfortable Tennis Shoes: I brought a pair of tennis shoes that I felt were stylish, yet still comfortable. They were also slip-on which made it easy to take on and off when visiting temples or certain restaurants/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!
Ladies Fall and Winter Packing List for Japan
We have yet to travel in Japan during the fall and winter months (we were heading there for fall in 2020 but… well you know!) but here are some suggestions for what to pack during these seasons based on our prior knowledge of travel in Japan! Again, all numbers below are for a typical 10-16 day trip.
- Jeans (2-3): My go-to options are always light-wash denim, dark-wash denim, and black denim.
- Leggings (1): Great for layering under dresses or jeans or just lounging in!
- Shirts/Blouses (2-4): Long sleeve blouses, thermal shirts,
- Sweaters (1-2): Having layers is important when traveling to Japan in any season but especially in fall and winter.
- Dresses (2-3): Mid-length or maxi dresses
- Skirts (1-2): 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: These are my favorite pair of cute and comfy tennis shoes.
- Comfortable Walking 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.
- Mittens (1 pair)
Additional Items To Pack For Any Season
- Undergarments (2
bras/bralettes, multiple pairs of underwear): Some people say to only bring a few pairs of underwear while traveling and wash them on-the-go. I’m kind of a psycho about underwear and I’m ALWAYS packing extra because its the one thing I refuse to wear multiple times without washing (gotta stand your ground sometimes!).
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 typically we were doing laundry at least every 14 days while on our trip.
- Socks (3 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): Obviously a thicker scarf makes sense for fall and winter months in Japan, but a lightweight scarf for spring is also a valuable thing to pack as weather can fluctuate rapidly. I usually bring an infinity scarf with hidden zipper pockets every time I visit Japan for sunshade or warmth and even to cover more of my shoulders when visiting certain temples in the summer. It also was nice to have the zipper pockets as an additional place to carry items.
Men’s Packing List for Japan
Similar to the ladies packing list for Japan, typical men’s fashion in Japan is also very modern and stylish. Japanese men very rarely 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
jeanto pair with his t-shirts.
- Shorts (2-3 pairs – summer): Something that is lightweight and moisture-wicking is especially important during the summer months. Here are Logan’s favorite shorts.
- Polo Shirts (2): If you want to dress up your shorts or pants you can do this easily in the summer with a polo.
- 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) is 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): Light wash and dark wash jeans.
- 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 a 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)
- Gloves (1)
- Warm socks (3 pairs): Wool socks are typically the best kind of socks to pack as they are moisture-wicking, cool in the summer, yet 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 40 hotels, ryokan, Airbnb, etc. while in Japan and have never been without the following items.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner – 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
- Hairdryer – YOU DO NOT NEED TO BRING YOURS!
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!
- Lotion: Some hotels have this, but err on the side of caution and bring your own travel bottle of lotion.
- Hair Brush
- Face Wash
- Facial Moisturizer
- Acne Cream
- 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 summer in Japan).
- Bug Spray: Especially if you’re visiting during the summer!
- 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!
- Curling Iron or Straightener: Make sure yours has the appropriate outlet prongs and voltage!
- Make-up Remover Wipes
- Menstrual Cup or other women’s health products such as tampons or pads.
- Make-up: Ladies, 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 it may spark some ideas.
- Prescription Medicine: I personally 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 in Japan.
Things You Do NOT Need To Pack for Japan
- Japanese Language or Guide Books: These take up SO much space and will be utterly 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 the space and weight by skipping this on your Japan packing list.
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. If you are able to, the easiest way to travel to multiple destinations in Japan with your luggage in tow is by packing everything into a small or large 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 use 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! If you’d prefer to pack in a suitcase that’s totally fine, just make sure it’s not too heavy. An alternate option is packing in a wheeled backpack which is the best of both worlds – the ability to comfortably carry your luggage or roll as needed!
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.
- Passport (with a case that has RFID blocking technology)
- Card Case
- Coin Purse
- Driver’s License and International Driver’s Permits (may not be necessary if you aren’t planning to drive in Japan).
- JR Pass Voucher(s)
- Information regarding trip insurance (we book with World Nomads)
- Information regarding your wireless device (we like Japan Wireless)
- A few light snacks: We brought a few protein bars and trail mix)
- Reusable water bottle: Fill up in the airport prior to boarding!
- Travel accessories kit: earplugs, eye mask, chapstick, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorizing body wipes (these will help you feel refreshed), travel size deodorant, and a pen (for filling out customs card).
- 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: One outfit, two pairs of underwear
- Contacts: We use daily contacts and typically bring a week’s worth in our carry-on.
- 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 back-up.
- 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.
- Camera Gear: Camera, lenses, drone, batteries, etc. Here is our photography gear.
- One pair of socks (If you aren’t already wearing some!).
- Logan usually travels with is iPad and Apple AirPods Pro, whereas I typically watch movies on the plane or read a book on my Kindle or Libby App. Make sure you download movies and TV shows from Netflix 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.
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