Japan is unlike any other place I’ve ever visited, it’s like stepping onto the set of an incredible movie. The people are so fashionable and effortlessly cool, everywhere you turn you see great photo opportunities, the food is amazing and there’s just SO much to see and do.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, but are unsure what to pack, I’ve compiled this list to help you. My biggest tip? Don’t overpack. There are SO many cool things you’re going to want to buy, you’re going to need the room in your luggage. If you forget to pack anything, don’t stress, you can buy it easily. Of course, if you are going for a Japan Ski Holiday you’ll also need to think about all the lovely, warm snow gear you’ll need.
If you’re planning on visiting Tokyo, these resources can also help you:
- 49 Insanely cheap and free things to do in Tokyo
- 43 of the best things to do in Tokyo
- 7 Insanely cute cafés you need to visit in Tokyo, and
- The Best luxury hotel to splurge on in Tokyo
But first, watch my 6 COOL things to do in TOKYO video!
What to pack for a trip to Japan
Medicine Bring a small bag packed full of essential medicines with you. Unlike Australia and most other countries, it isn’t possible to duck down to the corner store and pick up some paracetamol. There are drug stores in Japan, but if you wake up at an odd hour in the grips of a horrid cold, you’ll be helpless until one opens. Take the risk out of it and pack things like cold and flu tablets, hay fever/allergy medicine, ibuprofen, paracetamol, tums and Imodium.
Tissues Pocket packs of tissues tucked into a bag may come in very helpful at public toilets. Whilst there is no shortage of T.P in Japan, there are some public toilets which run out of the good stuff due to the high volume of people using them. Don’t be a victim, be proactive. If you’re a germ-a-phobe, I recommend packing a bottle of hand sanitiser which can be used, with a tissue, to sanitise a toilet seat.
Shoes Seems simple enough, right? Wrong! Make sure you pack shoes which are comfortable, for all the walking you will do, but also easy to slip on and off as you may need to take them on and off during the day to stay in keeping with local customs. Note: your thigh-high lace-up boots may not be appropriate this time.
Water Bottle Japan is the land of delicious, weird and creative foodstuffs. Bring a water bottle with you so you can easily refill around the city, to save you falling victim to endless vending machines calling your name toward the sugary drinks inside. Tap water in Japan is safe to drink so you’ll save money and also save yourself from dehydration by drinking water.
Clothes Don’t fall victim to the mental pressure of wanting to pack every item of clothing you own, nah-uh. There are so many great shops in Japan selling affordable clothing, you will be able to buy anything you are missing at a decent price. Keep it simple, you hoarder!
I found the weather changed pretty quickly when I visited in April, one day it was pretty chilly and the next it was shorts weather. So, try to pack items of clothing you can easily layer. I’d recommend packing really warm jeans, jumpers, scarves, beanies and coats for those cooler months (even thermal underwear if you’re a cold-fearing Aussie like me, visiting in winter). For warmer months, think cute dresses and skirts, shorts and cotton tops and shirts.
Toiletries If you forget to pack any essentials, don’t worry. Hotel rooms provide incredibly generous vanity kits which usually include a razor, hairbrush, toothbrushes, body sponges and more!
Be fashionable Everyone in Japan is fashionable, so this your time to shine. Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in and feel to express yourself through your clothing. If you visit Yoyogi Park on a Sunday, you’ll find loads of other people doing the same. It’s definitely one of the coolest places on the planet when it comes to just being yourself!
Pack layers Be sure to pack clothes you can layer, just in case the weather changes suddenly. Think things like singlet or vest tops, jumpers and scarves and a good jacket or two, just in case. If you’re going in summer, it gets pretty warm so you should be okay with lighter clothing. In winter it gets very cold, so bust out the heavy coats, beanies and gloves.
My packing tips and travel hacks
Plastic bags Stash some large biodegradable plastic bags and small sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes!
Tupperware I use Tupperware or similar hard plastic containers to put all my toiletries in. This ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab my toiletries in one easy swoop, keep them together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too. I also use a small container for all my jewellery and another one for electronics like adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things!
Dryer sheets Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip, easy! No more musty smelling clothes for you, my friend.
Power board As freelancers, we travel with a lot of electronics so we can work on the road. This can mean two laptops, an iPad, two phones, a camera and a GoPro! If this sounds like you too, then you’re going to need more than one power point. Buy one power-point converter and take a power board with multiple plug-ins on it. It makes life so much easier!
Trackstick II The Trackstick II is so very cool and will appear to the nerdy data types out there (i.e. my husband). It’s a GPS receiver the size of a memory stick, it can be used to track your every step for weeks! Take it with you in your pocket and you’ll have a satellite album of your travels. You can see where you’ve been, shown via a red line that is traced on satellite photos and 3D terrain. Told you it was cool. It continuously records its exact route, stop times, speed, direction and other valuable information, all of which is easily downloaded to your computer.
These are my tips for what to pack for a trip to Japan, what are yours? What are your top travel hacks or tips? I’d love to hear them so share in the comments below.
In the market for a new suitcase? Peep my review of the Lojel Lumo!
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.