How to pack for a trip to Japan? It is one of the most commonly asked questions by many potential Japan visitors. A tourist from Singapore has asked me this and I sent her a long email describing everything else. A few years ago, before my India trip I was so concerned about this issue since it was my very first trip to India.

M trip to India was great and it was a successful trip only because I was informed some useful travel tips. Today, it is my turn to inform about packing for Japan. To be honest with you, you don’t have to bring a lot of things here which you really don’t need to have.

Please feel free to check out the best recommended Japan travel guidebooks. If you think it is not in your packing list then I am sorry to inform you that you would have some trouble.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto. Photo Credit: Lachlan O’Dea at Flickr.

That lady from Singapore was really pleased and thanked me a lot after having a successful trip to Japan in this year summer. She actually visited Furano city, in Hokkaido to view its lavender and other flower fields there. I have got an idea to share things that I have shared with her.

In this post, you will be revealing those packing ideas that could make your Japan trip a lot easier and fancier. Therefore, I welcome you to share this post with people who want to come to Japan in future if you find it useful. Thank you in advance.

1) Pack as Lightly as Possible

Railroad crossing in Japan. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

When we talk about packing, the first golden tip would be “Pack as lightly as possible”. You will be wrong if you think that Japan’s local trains and urban-subway or trams offer you enough specious compartments. The truth is – their space is limited and therefore you better carry small luggage such as medium size backpack and that is the ideal one.  You pack it putting your most important travel accessories such as passport, train tickets and passes, phone chargers, medicine, small tissue box, nail cutter, cotton but, adapter, laptop/tab and other things.

You might be thinking like, you should not bring any costumes here! No, I don’t tell you so rather you bring them here packing them in your hand luggage. You will be happy to know that, Japan has luggage-forwarding service (Takuhaibin) which is very handy and once you handover your luggage to them they will take care of. And they will bring it anywhere else you want it to all over Japan. Please check it here.

Please, just don’t forget that Japan Train Stations are often very crowded and they are superfast. If you delay only because of dragging your large luggage to any station, you might miss your train. So, be careful of it. However, pack as lightly as possible term would be useful when you prefer to stay in Japan a week or less than a week. Actually, it all depends how many days you are going to stay. If you want to stay here more than 20 days long and don’t want to spend a lot of money for shopping then this term may not suit you well.

2) Leave Some Space for…….

You can purchase cute souvenirs from these shops, located in Asakusa, Tokyo. Photo Credit: TheLordMayor at Flickr.

It will always be better when you bring few costumes from your home country because you have to leave some space to cover it with newly purchased costumes and gifts you would buy in Japan. When I traveled to India last year, I met a guy from Thailand who was looking to buy an extra suitcase. The reason was pretty simple to guess, he himself had bought so many things he found there and he wanted to load more in a new suitcase. He even told me that he bought some unnecessary things in his luggage from home.

Please don’t underestimate it! It is a very important factor and I am sure you don’t want to waste your money buying an extra luggage as everybody knows that Japan can never be a cheapest tourist destination.

3) Seasonal Japan Tour Packing Tips

Two Japanese women wearing traditional dress (kimono) at Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kyoto. Photo Credit: John Gillespie at Flickr.

Japan is a four season’s travel destination. You experience every season beauty of Japan when you take a tour either in spring, summer, autumn or winter.  Weather changes here when a new season arrives in a particular time. Summer heat and humid weather could even hamper your day to day activity let alone traveling. There are survival tips you could learn from here.

Summer of Japan could be enjoyable if you take some effective actions, for example: wearing light fabric costumes, cap/hat, and sunglasses. A light makeup is the best option for girls during this time of year. You don’t have to be much fashionable with your makeup when you are to deal with crazy Japanese summer.

Excessive heat and rain could ruin your entire trip. It rains a lot in this season therefore, I suggest you to carry an umbrella. Needless to say, carrying a light weight Japanese hand fan makes your summer trip quite comfortable.

While on the other hand, autumn weather makes you feel a bit cold. As a result you have to wear light jacket. When it comes to talking about winter, you have no idea except wearing jacket, sweater, hats, and hand gloves. You sometimes have to use umbrella when it snows out there. And, spring season is a very beautiful season that does not make you wear any light or heavy jacket. So, use your brain and pack accordingly.

4) How to Dress?

Maiko wears kimono. Photo Credit: kyoto flowertourism at Flickr.

Dressing could be a fatal issue if you don’t have any idea of it. You probably have seen or experienced that Tokyo’s girls wear Kawaii looking sexy costumes to be more attractive. They wear variety designs of shorts, mini skirts, tops, t-shirts and this is how they usually try exposing their beauty.

You should not be thinking how they dress in Tokyo and other major cities throughout Japan rather you should think of how people would think of you – as a modest person or a person who is not well-mannered. To make it clear and sound enough, you have got your own brain to decide.

I am sure you have understood what I meant. There is no need to be sexy wearing mini skirts because you come to Japan as a traveler who would like to visit some famous shrines and temples. These are sacred places where you must wear dresses that make other to feel that you are really a modest person. Please, wear casual clothing in this matter. That is it!

Usually, there is no specific dress code for participating in any events in Japan. Though, when you are out to see summer fireworks then wearing a Yukata would be awesome.

When you are invited to have some dinner at someone’s home or at a restaurant, you don’t have go there wearing formal dresses, for example tie, coat, t-shirt or else.  You better get the job done just wearing casual clothing that you really like and feel comfortable with. But when you are in Japan for a business matter (meeting, conference) then I would suggest you to wear formal dresses.

5) Prefer Footwear that is Smooth to Move on

A Shoe Shop in Japan. Photo Credit: Okinawa Soba (Rob) at Flickr.

There is one of the most important Japan travel tips which indicate that you have to take your shoes off. Indeed, you have to before entering in Ryokan, Shrines, Temple and Houses or even restaurants! Wearing shoes you can’t walk off tatami mat that is used for covering floor of Ryokan, House and Restaurants.

I have seen so many visitors taking their shoes off before entering in shrines and Temples. To be honest with you, sometimes your hands may get dirty doing that. So, to erase this problem you have to wear Sandals, or Flip-flops. They are quite easy to take off and wear on in a very short time. Therefore, I highly encourage you to bring a pair of sandals or flip-flops. In case, if you are traveling Japan in winter then I would tell you to wear sneakers.

6) Don’t think of Tipping but Something else

I hope everyone is enjoying their meals. Photo Credit: Cory Doctorow at Flickr.

Tipping is not a good idea to make someone’s happy in Japanese culture. If you think, someone deserves something from you because he or she just made your trip great then giving a simple gift would be much appreciated than tipping. You can offer a nice gift to your guide or friend who will accompany you while visiting many tourist spots.

Before you arrive in Japan, please bring one or two gifts from your home country which represents your country or something unique for what your country is well known for. It is one of the most useful packing ideas that you must think of. I know you would pack things that what you really need as daily a basis though pack a gift for someone. Go to a shop and get a nice gift for someone that you would like to present.

7) Don’t Run Out of Money

Seven Bank ATM, Japan. Photo Credit: Stefan Krasowski at Flickr.

Is it really a part of packing? I say – why not? If you run out of money you may get in a big trouble. Japan travel experts say to bring a lot of cash and rely on it instead of your credit card. People here accept cash than credit card payment.

My advice to you is that – bring both, credit card and cash. When you travel to Tokyo by taxi, you can pay your fare using your credit card. There are shops, hotels and restaurants that accept international credit card payment but most of the time you have to rely on cash payment. There are sightseeing places which you need to pay admission fees and in that case, don’t even show your credit card but cash!

You don’t think that we don’t have ATM booth here. To be honest with you, your international credit cards would be useless when they don’t accept it to load cash from. You could ask hotel personnel at reception desk where to find ATM that accepts international credit card.

I assume you don’t want any mess with this matter. To make your entire trip hassle free then please bring a lot of cash knowing that you may encounter shortage of money. Estimate your budget considering your length of stay, places you want to go, shopping, accommodation and foods.

8) Do I Really Need a Sleeping Bag?

Mount Yufu and Hikers, Japan. Photo Credit: Rick McCharles at Flickr.

It is an unnecessary travel accessory when you don’t wish to hike and stay a night outside in a wild area. Don’t you think that Hotels, Ryokans, Apartments in Japan could provide you any bedding? So, please don’t bring it and even if you want it for an outdoor holiday then you could buy or rent one here in Japan.

Don’t arrive here in Japan if you have not yet booked your hotel room. It could be a big problem to find accommodation especially when there is an upcoming event. Spring and autumn season beauty invite millions of people to visit Japan. Therefore, you must book your room in advance otherwise you really need a sleeping bag to sleep outside. Who knows, police may suspect you for no reason seeing you like that.

9) Japan Guide and Phrasebook

A Japanese Phrasebook. Photo Credit: Xesc Arbona at Flickr.

Some Japan travel agents deliver free Japan travel guide when you make a purchase one of their services such as JR Pass, and Tour Packages. I know that travel guide consist of useful information though you may not get all the information you require in that guide. You better find one which provides everything else including a map. Order it online, receive this on time and pack it well before your arrival. I recommend this Japan travel guide to you.

Japanese don’t speak English, though people in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and Kyoto could communicate with you in simple English. They would not understand your English unless you use some hand gestures while speaking. When you visit Hokkaido, people their hardly speak English. Therefore, I want you to carry a Japanese dictionary/phrasebook.

You could download Apps to learn Japanese on your phone but not all of them are useful. You may encounter a situation when your phone battery is about to die and thus how it could resist you not to communicate with others. Having a paperback is the ideal option and you even could show them phrases or words from the book to get some ideas. Check out this Japanese phrasebook.

Two paperbacks – travel guide and Japanese learning book would work as an interpreter. Though, I highly recommend you to learn at least some basic useful Japanese phrases and words at home.

10) The Electronic Devices You Must Care Of

Perfect time to take photos! Photo Credit: Takashi Hososhima at Flickr.

What is the number one Electronic device for these days? I would say – that is your Smartphone. It is a versatile electronic device that makes you able to communicate and capture moments. Though, I always prefer digital camera than relying on Smartphone camera. Professional photographers need a SLR or DSLR camera to photograph picturesque landscapes and landmarks. And surly, they know what he/she really need to pack as travel accessories. According to my knowledge, you must bring two camera batteries and an extra memory card.

Do you really need a pocket Wi-Fi in Japan? It depends! Most of the hotels, restaurants, apartments provide free internet facility in Japan. But when you head to a rural area, you may not get it for free so having a pocket Wi-Fi at that time is a wise decision. Honestly, you should not bring pocket Wi-Fi from home because there are some companies which offer this service at a reasonable cost.

Pack a most efficient, long-lusting phone charger. Just make sure you don’t run out of phone battery as this also lets you see the time. You don’t need to buy a travel adapter because most of the hotels in Japan are aware of your needs and wants.

Few More Words to Say

A lovely signboard in Japan. Photo Credit: halfrain at Flickr.

Are these 10 packing ideas for Japan sound useful to you? I will be pleased if these packing tips help you a lot. I want to add one more thing here which is really important regarding this question “what to take on a trip to japan?” So far in this post you have got some ideas what to bring here from home when you take a trip to Japan. The important thing is that you MUST pack your Japan Rail Pass order to exchange it here.

You see, I have not made a packing list here but the things I have shared is to give some packing ideas. I see, people write articles on packing list but how does he/she knows that I feel comfortable with shorts or jeans? Therefore, I give freedom to my visitors here to choose what type of costume they wish to bring here. In fact, as a human being you know much better than me what you should wear or what type of fabric clothes you must put on in summer.

It is great, bringing two or three pair of jeans and t-shirts for 20 days long trip to Japan if you really like wearing them. Sharing this post, I just wanted to you to be familiar with Japanese culture and customs we follow. Make your own packing list considering my tips here, I am 100% sure that you could do that yourself. Good luck guys! And yeah, don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any doubt regarding this topic. Thanks.