Complete Japan packing list: what to bring and to wear in Japan - Wapiti Travel

Great!  You decided that you’re going to do that epic trip to Japan.  Just one thing though, what to wear and bring to Japan to make your trip hassle-free.  Read it here in our Japan packing list

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Our Japan packing list-Packing for Japan

Use our complete Japan packing list to ensure you know what things to take to Japan.

Japan travel essentials

First things first, these are the travel essentials for Japan.  Make sure you can check these off before you continue with the other things to bring to Japan.

The official stuff

  • Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for an additional 6 months after the date you leave Japan and it carries at least one empty page.
  • Visa: You will probably not require a Visa for Japan.  That is as long as your stay is not longer than 90 days which is more than enough for most travel purposes.  Just to be sure you can check the official page of Visa exempt countries here.
  • Flight tickets: Immigration officials may ask you proof of outbound flights.  Although they usually don’t request this it may be a good idea to carry a paper copy of your outbound tickets.

Check if buying a Japan rail pass is worth it

Getting around Japan is very convenient with a Japan Rail Pass and as Japan uses an addressing system unknown to most other people you can use the help of a GPS to navigate the urban jungle.

  • Japan Rail Pass: Trains are the most convenient option to get around Japan.  Tourists can buy a Japan Rail Pass that allows them unlimited train rides for 1, 2 or 3 weeks.  This can give you some serious savings, certainly if you’re going to travel by train a lot.  Check our comprehensive article about the Japan Rail pass to learn everything about the pass.  We explain how to find out if you will be saving money, how to buy the pass and how you can use it once you’re in Japan.  Just note, you need to buy the Japan rail pass before you arrive in Japan.
  • GPS: Japan uses an addressing system based on districts and block numbers. Except for Kyoto, that uses a combination of the Western and the Japanese system to make it even more complex, no street names are used.  Finding your way in mega-cities like Tokyo can be challenging without GPS.  There’re quite a lot of hotels that offer a free ‘handy’ smartphone but as not all hotels come with this benefit we seriously recommend to buy a local (data-only) SIM that you can use along with your smartphone to help you navigate the urban jungle.

Carry some cash

It’s not necessary to take huge amounts of cash as credit cards are widely accepted and ATM’s can be found in many places and most accept foreign cards.  We do recommend to carry some cash at all times.  In one rare occasion, we did encounter a train station that only accepted cash to buy tickets and no ATM could be found in that station that accepted foreign cards.  Quite a stressful situation as we were heading to the airport to catch a flight….  so to be on the safe side, make sure you have at least some cash at all times.

Make sure to bring anything you might need to authenticate your online transactions (eg. card reader)  if you plan on using your cards online while you’re abroad.

Luggage

Getting around Japan is very efficient with Japan’s metro system and trains.  But those train stations can be huge.  Shinjuku in Tokyo is even the world’s busiest train station.  That means that you will be walking several kilometers with your bags.   That’s why we recommend either a backpack or a lightweight suitcase with wheels.

There’s no need to carry your luggage with you if you don’t want to.  You can forward your luggage to your next hotel with the convenient Yamanote luggage forwarding service.  Read this and many more in our article with tips for traveling to Japan for the first time.

Things to bring to Japan

Here we list what to bring to Japan.

  • E-reader: I think e-readers must be one of the best inventions of the last years :-).  Before we used to carry at least 3 books each.  They not only weigh a lot, but they also take a lot of space as well.  We tried both Kobo and Kindle e-readers but Kindle is hands down the best, we both read on a Kindle Paperwhite.
  • Chargers: Make sure you have all your chargers (laptop, mobile phone, camera, kindle, …)
  • Charging station: A USB charging station is handy with all those devices that charge on USB (even my trimmer charges on USB).

  • Travel adapter: Japan uses Type A & B power outlets (similar to those in the United States and Canada).  Make sure you don’t need an AC adapter.  If you travel a lot you will be good of with a World Adapter.
  • Power Bank: A Power Bank can avoid the disappointment when your phone dies while you’re on the road.
  • Photo camera.  If you’re still looking for a camera the Canon EOS M100 is a very good compact and affordable camera.
  • SD Cards: At least 2 SD cards.  Things can happen so make sure you have at least 1 backup card with you in case your card fails during your trip.  Take a backup every once in a while so you’re sure you don’t lose any pictures.  Google photos offers unlimited free storage for your pictures.
    We recommend Sandisk cards for their quality.  The Sandisk Extreme Pro SDXC variant if you plan on filming or the slower budget variant, the Sandisk Extreme SDHC, if you will only use it to snap pictures.
  • A local SIM card will keep you connected wherever you go in Canada.   You can buy one in a local electronics store like Yodobashi & BIC Camera.  Or you can order one up front that will be waiting for you in your hotel upon arrival.  Ordering online is possible on Klook and Bmobile.

What to wear in Japan

Wondering what to wear in Japan? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer as a lot of things to take to Japan will depend on the season you’re going.  Here’re our suggestions for each season.

What to wear in Japan in Spring

Spring is an excellent season to visit Japan as early in spring the cherry blossoms will start appearing in Southern Japan.  They start blossoming in the South and gradually make their way Northwards.  The exact blossoming period is different each year. For more info have a look in our Japan Bucket List article and we also list the best Sakura spots in Tokyo. (Sakura is how the Japanese call the cherry blossoms)

The temperatures start rising in March and in April and May you have pleasant temperatures during the day but chilly evenings as soon as the sun sets.

The cherry blossoms are lovely but if you suffer from hay fever make sure to bring along your allergy medication to fully enjoy them.

Packing list for Japan in spring

Shinjuku Gyoen Kimono

During the cherry blossom season, the locals love to take pictures in their traditional clothes

What to wear in Japan in Summer

The temperatures continue rising in Summer.  By the end of May, the rainy season starts and announces a period of hot and humid days. The rainy season ends by the end of July but the days continue to be hot and humid and generally unpleasant if you’re not used to this kind of weather.

Japan summer outfit

Autumn in Japan what to wear

Autumn is another lovely option to discover Japan.  Colorful autumn leaves, known as Koyo in Japanese, draw just as many visitors in autumn as the cherry blossoms do during spring.  The best time to view the colorful foliage is subject to weather conditions but you will find several sites that try to give predictions. Overall the best period to see the famous fall foliage is mid- to late November.

It starts to get cooler by the end of September.  October offers pleasant temperatures slightly above 20 degrees Celsius.  November tends to be somewhat cooler but thanks to the clear blue and sunny skies it is still a lovely month to travel.

What to wear in autumn in Japan

 Winter in Japan

The Winter months are low-season in Japan.  Temperatures range from cool to cold, there may be some snowfall in January and February but the snow usually melts as soon as it falls.

You could opt to visit Japan in Winter to avoid the crowds but the best seasons to visit Japan are Spring and Autumn.

What to wear in Japan in winter

  • You can choose to dress in layers but a warm and insulated jacket could be better in cities where you will often be going in and out of buildings.  It’s easier to just remove your jacket each time you go inside instead of multiple layers of clothing.  We love the insulated Jackets of Point Zero for men and the Zshow Down Jacket for women.

  • Mittens will be great to keep your fingers warm but aren’t practical at all when you need to grab your train ticket or want to take a picture.  That’s why I’m now a big fan of high-tech gloves that allow me to use my mobile phone without taking off my gloves.  Fingerless gloves would work as well of course.
  • Sunglasses.  We particularly like polarized sunglasses because of the increased visual comfort
  • Sunscreen, we picked those with SPF50 and broad spectrum for a good protection
  • Lip balm, since we discovered Burt’s bees it’s our favorite brand
  • A pair of shoes that flips on and of easily
  • Thermal underwear is ideal to keep you warm when you spend many hours outside in the cold.
  • Jeans and/or warm trousers

Footwear

  • Lightweight walking shoes: The good news is that while you’re discovering those mega-cities you will have no problem to reach those 10,000 steps a day.  So you better take a pair of comfortable lightweight walking shoes on your trip.
  • Footwear that slips on and of easilyMany establishments in Japan require you to take off your shoes. Ryokans, (some) restaurants and other places with tatami floors are just a few. We took our shoes about 15 times on and off in 2 hours when we were visiting the cultural village in Takayama.  It’s also common to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home. That’s why wearing shoes that slip on and off easily is a huge plus. 

Other Japan packing tips

Travel cubes, or often called packing cubes, are containers made of fabric used for packing clothing. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and will help you organize your bags.  Instead of digging through the whole bag of a suitcase to find that specific shirt you’re looking for you can now just grab the cube you need.  By rolling your clothes into cubes you will also minimize wrinkles.  Lastly, cubes will slightly compress your cubes and can be nicely stacked so you will manage to fit more into your bag.

Travel comfort

Flights aren’t as expensive anymore as they used to be but the comfort on board has reduced at least as much, maybe even more. That means, more than before, you have to take matters in your own hand to ensure a comfortable flight. Here are a few things that can help.

  • Noise canceling headphones: The noise reducing feature of noise canceling headphones compensates for the monotonous hum of the aircraft engines.  It helps me to sleep, or just to relax when I want to listen to some music.   If you close your eyes you can completely forget you’re on an aircraft.  The Bose earphones are generally recognized as the best but I’m very pleased with the ones from eXtreme I bought as well.
  • Travel pillow: A travel pillow doesn’t take up much space but can make a big difference for red-eye flights where you want to get some sleep.
  • E-reader: A Kindle e-reader will keep you occupied reading for hours.  That flight will be over before you even knew it started. 🙂

Japan Travel Insurance

Last but not least… As you might expect health care in Japan is excellent but it comes at a high cost.  Make sure you have some sort of insurance before you leave for Japan.  We never had anything serious happen on any of our journeys around the world but you know what they say, better safe than sorry…

Check for insurance at World Nomads:WORLD NOMADS

 

Other Japan travel tips

If you are traveling through Japan, our Japan travel guide will help you plan your trip.

 

If you are starting your Japan trip in Tokyo take a look at our Tokyo articles. Here you will find where to stay in Tokyo, the best places to visit in Tokyo, a detailed Tokyo 2-5 days itinerary and a complete guide to Tokyo’s public transport. 

If you are planning a 3 week Japan itinerary, you will find a lot of information here. if you have 2 weeks to spend in Japan, take a look here.

If you are heading to Osaka, take a look at our 2-day itinerary and where to stay in Osaka article.

If Kyoto is on your Japan itinerary, take a look at our detailed Kyoto itinerary and find out what you can do in Kyoto at night. 

 

If you are looking for some fun activities to do in Japan we can recommend a Japanese cooking class or a night walk in Gion. 

Categories: Japan

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