What to Pack for Japan? 19 Things You Haven’t Thought Of

When it comes to travel, Japan holds a unique allure with its blend of centuries-old traditions and modern architecture. But with such a diverse and mysterious country, knowing what to pack for your trip can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. As a seasoned traveler to Japan, I’m here to share my top recommendations for your Japan packing list. From travel essentials to what not to wear, read on to ensure you have an unforgettable trip.

What to pack for Japan? Travel essentials you haven’t thought of

Before diving into the specifics, let’s talk about the essentials you’ll need for your trip to Japan. These items are must-haves for any traveler, regardless of their destination.

First and foremost, I highly recommend getting a Japan Rail Pass. This pass allows unlimited travel on JR trains and is especially useful if you plan to explore multiple cities in Japan. It’s cheaper to purchase the pass before you arrive in Japan, as prices tend to increase once you’re there. Don’t forget to exchange your voucher for the actual pass at the nearest JR Station when you’re ready to activate it.

Another essential item is a Suica card or IC card. These rechargeable cards are perfect for using on most major Metro networks throughout Japan. Simply preload some yen onto it and tap as you go. You can even use these cards for shopping at convenience stores and department stores. However, due to the global electronic chip shortage, regular Suica and PASMO card sales in the Kanto Region have been temporarily suspended. In 2024, you can now use a Welcome Suica or PASMO Passport instead, which can be purchased from vending machines at Haneda and Narita Airports, as well as major stations.

It’s also important to have your visa in order before traveling to Japan. While foreign visitors from 68 visa waiver countries don’t need a visa to enter Japan, certain countries, such as China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and Russia, still require a tourist visa. Be sure to check the official Japanese Consulate or Embassy website for the most up-to-date information on visa requirements for your city or country.

A passport wallet is a useful accessory to keep all your important documents, such as your passport, boarding passes, credit cards, and international driver’s license, organized and secure. Additionally, having printouts of pre-booked activities can save you from any technical difficulties while you’re away. Show these printouts to the corresponding places upon arrival, and you’ll be good to go.

To stay connected, consider bringing a portable WiFi device or SIM card. These will ensure you have internet access wherever you go in Japan. You can either bring your own or rent one in advance. Just make sure to check if your device is compatible with Japanese power outlets or bring a universal travel adapter.

Packing cubes are a game changer when it comes to organizing your suitcase. These lightweight cubes allow you to separate your clothes and other items, making it easier to find what you need and maximize space. Don’t forget to roll your clothes inside the packing cubes to save even more space and minimize wrinkles.

A coin purse is handy for keeping all those Japanese yen coins in one place. Since Japan is still a cash-based society, having a coin purse makes it easier to find spare change when you need it. Speaking of cash, it’s a good idea to have a small amount of Japanese yen on hand when you arrive. You can exchange some currency before your trip and withdraw more from ATMs once you’re there. Remember to carry your passport with you at all times, as it’s required by law in Japan.

If you’re planning to capture your Japan journey, don’t forget to bring your camera, along with spare batteries and SD cards. Japan offers countless picturesque views and cultural experiences that you won’t want to miss. And to protect your eyes from the bright lights of Japan’s cities, an eye mask will come in handy, especially when staying in traditional ryokans with their wooden and paper window shutters.

Since navigating Japan can drain your phone’s battery, a portable power bank is a must-have. It will ensure that you always have a backup power source for your phone, especially if you’re using it for navigation.

Comfortable walking shoes are essential, as you can expect to do a lot of walking while sightseeing in Japan. Pack your favorite pair of walking shoes that are already broken-in and suitable for the season. In summer, opt for lightweight and breathable options like leather sandals for ladies and smart-casual sneakers for men. In winter, waterproof boots or shoes will come in handy to keep your feet warm and dry.

To minimize waste and embrace sustainable travel, consider bringing your own reusable chopsticks and a reusable water bottle. Japan goes through billions of disposable chopsticks and plastic bottles each year, so doing your part to reduce waste is a small but meaningful contribution.

Lastly, having a Japan travel guide book can be a valuable resource for planning your itinerary and discovering hidden gems. Bring along your most-used guide book or browse through some of the popular Japan travel guides available to find inspiration for your trip. And don’t forget to keep an open mind and embrace the unique experiences that Japan has to offer.

What NOT to wear in Japan

While packing for your Japan trip, it’s important to be aware of cultural norms and dress appropriately. Japan leans towards conservative dress, especially for women. Avoid wearing cleavage-showing tops and opt for more modest clothing options. Japanese girls usually cover their shoulders and avoid wearing leggings unless their bottoms are covered by a long top.

However, don’t be afraid to wear shorts and skirts that brush the mid-thigh. These are completely acceptable and comfortable options for exploring Japan. Jeans are not a huge fashion trend in Japan, so if you prefer trousers or linen pants, they can be a stylish substitute.

When visiting traditional hot springs, known as onsen, remember to embrace the custom of bathing in your birthday suit. Wearing swimwear in onsens is considered unclean and unacceptable. Embrace the cultural experience and enjoy the soothing hot springs in their traditional form.

What NOT to bring to Japan

While there are many things you should bring to Japan, there are a few items you should leave behind. Prohibited medications, including certain cold and flu medicines, are not allowed in Japan even with a valid prescription. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the list of prohibited drugs before traveling.

Fresh foods and produce are also not allowed to be brought into Japan. This includes meat, animal products, fresh fruits, and vegetables. While canned and processed packaged foods are generally allowed, it’s always a good idea to check before bringing them.

Bring an open mind and enthusiasm, but leave your activewear at home. Japanese people rarely wear activewear outside of the gym, and wearing it can make you stand out as a tourist.

Hand sanitizers are readily available in Japan, so you won’t need to bring a large quantity with you. Tissues are often handed out on the streets as advertisements, so feel free to take them when offered.

Umbrellas are another item you don’t need to bring. Japanese umbrellas are high-quality and readily available, and you’ll find them to be a practical and stylish accessory during your stay.

BONUS essential item for a Japan packing list

The most important item you can bring to Japan is an open mind. Embrace the unique culture, customs, and experiences that await you. Japan has a way of changing lives, and by immersing yourself in the local way of life, you’ll create memories that will stay with you long after you return home.

In conclusion, packing for Japan can be a daunting task, but with careful consideration and the right items, you’ll be well-prepared for your adventure. From travel essentials to appropriate clothing, make sure to pack everything you need to have a comfortable and memorable trip. And don’t forget to bring an open mind and a sense of wonder, as Japan is a country that will mesmerize and captivate you at every turn.

This guide is your go-to resource for what to pack for Japan, ensuring you have everything you need for your journey. Whether you’re visiting temples in Kyoto, exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo, or immersing yourself in the beauty of Mount Fuji, be prepared and make the most of your time in this incredible country. Safe travels!

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