Nothing can ruin a vacation like getting to your epic destination and realizing you forgot an essential item.
Here is a list of things you may consider packing with you when heading to Japan. This packing list should be used only as a general guide. You don't have to take every item on this list - use your best judgement to determine what you will need and try to pack light. It will definitely help you along the way.
P.S. Click on any of the pictures or links to shop exactly what I use when I travel. Especially if you are an Amazon Prime member!
I always try and do every trip with a carry on only. Not only is it lighter and easier to travel with when alone - but also, I save time not having to wait in lines to check my bag and pick up my bag after a flight. You'll be surprised just how much stuff can fit in a carry-on!
I travel with an Away carry on and LOVE IT. You can see my review of it here. Away luggage is a little pricier, but I still recommend them. I have linked Amazon brand bags that are similar (and cheaper) to Away Luggage below.
A quick note on packing light: To help pack as light as possible I try and bring clothes that serve multiple purposes. For example: A maxi skirt that can be worn as a casual outfit to explore but can also be dressed up with a pair of heels helps me pack light! I also pack the same general colors throughout my bag so that everything matches easily.
Obviously, you will want to look at the weather before heading out to Japan. The season, activities planned, and specific destination will change your outfit entirely. But, overall the Japanese stick to a conservative darker style. If you want to fit in I would travel with this style of clothing. Also, you won't see jeans much here.
A good rule of thumb, when traveling to Japan, is to dress nicer than you think. Even if they are just running out for some milk, the Japanese dress well put together.
Read on: 17 things you can't miss in Tokyo
A nice Coat
If you're traveling in the cooler weather, you'll want to have a nice coat to walk around in. Remember how I said everyone in Japan always looks so put together, I'm serious. Opt for a grey coat that will help you blend in.
Tops and Bottoms for Japan
I can't get too specific here because this really does depend on what you are doing. I suggest packing a variety of items that are all in the same color scheme so that you match easily.
If you're staying in a nicer hotel, you will probably have a spa and sauna to take advantage of. You'll want to pack some bathing suits. I love one pieces because then I don't mind indulging in the awesome food and drinks in Tokyo.
Sundresses and Going out dresses
Dress up or down in Japan, it's up to you, and highly dependent on the weather when you are there.
Other clothing essentials
- Underwear, bras, and socks
- Pajamas (I usually wear my athletic wear at night to save room)
- Belts, scarves, jewelry and other accessories
- Athletic wear (sports bras, workout pants)
- I always opt for a cross-body bag. It makes it harder to steal (or forget places).
Best Shoes For Japan
Depending on how light you pack, you'll want a versatile shoe. Tokyo especially is known for a lot of walking. You will be catching trains, hoofing it around the city, and even riding bikes. You'll want comfortable shoes above anything else. For any trip, I pack three pairs of shoes in my carry on: light-weight sneakers, walking shoes, and heels.
Like I said above, I try and pack everything in the same color scheme so that I match effortlessly. For sneakers, I don't mind if they are black - they hide dirt better anyway, also black sneakers match leggings and a sweatshirt, my normal plane attire. They have to be lightweight though! Look for sneakers that are mesh on top, this will help smoosh them in your bag.
For walking shoes, I usually stick to good old keds. I do usually try and find the slip on kind to make life easier. I find that these shoes blend in well and can hide under a maxi skirt if need be. They are also pretty comfortable and I'll even throw some sole liners in there to make them even more comfortable.
For heels, I always go with the ones I linked below. A low heel helps me walk in them and fit them into my bag easily. I find that nude matches pretty much anything. Even if I buy a dress on the trip, I can pretty much wear this shoe regardless.
Toiletries, Medication, Personal Items
Don't forget that if you're only bringing a carry on all of these will have to miniature sized. Also, when it comes to toiletries - the less you pack the better. Anything you don't bring can easily be bought abroad. Often times for cheaper than in the states! For example, when I recently went to Tulum my travel sized toothpaste ran out. I went to a store and a full sized Colgate bottle was less than a dollar! (In the states, that same bottle is $3-something.)
- Ear Plugs
- Why is this first you ask? Because it is the most important thing that should be in your toiletry bag. I can't even tell you how many times I have been SO THANKFUL I had earplugs on me.
- Hairbrush or comb
- Some of you are going to think I'm crazy but I literally travel with the tiny brush I've linked below. I've found normal brushes take up SO much room and having a tiny one is totally fine.
- Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash
- If I know I'm staying at a nice hotel I only pack Conditioner to save room. Shampoo and body wash at hotels work perfectly fine for me. Also, stop buying those mini bottles of brand name shampoo. They are so expensive. Buy reusable bottles and fill them up before you go.
- Just because you are in a city doesn't mean you shouldn't apply sunscreen everyday!!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Contact lenses and contact solution
- Tampons or sanitary napkins
- Prescription medication (make sure you pack these in original containers)
- First Aid Stuff
Things I don't ever pack and simply buy (or ask the front desk) if I need them:
- Nail file/clippers
- Shampoo/Body Wash (I wrote about why above!)
Good news for Americas, you won't need a converter for Japan! The electricity is the same, but if you are using a plug that has a third pin (like a heavy duty laptop charger or flat iron), you will need a convertor.
- Camera (I use the Nikon D3300)
- Extra Lens (I use a Sigma Wide Angle) and camera equipment
- iPhone Chargers
- Pack a long one just in case the plug isn't close to the bed!
- I bought this 3-pack of chargers a while ago and I love it because it comes with different lengths. The small one I keep in my bag with my portable charger. The long ones I use next to the bed.
- International Converter
- You probably won't need one since Japan and US have the same plugs. But if you do bring a heavy duty cord that has a third pin you will need one.
If you want to take photos underwater, or while you're skiing in Japan, make sure you have the right equipment. For the best photos use a Go Pro. If this is for underwater photography, make sure you have a red filter all your photos will come out super blue. You can also put your phone in a waterproof case.
Money and Documents
- Credit and/or debit cards
- VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted in Japan – American Express not so much.
- Don't forget a debit card! Japan is very cash based, many places don't take card!
- Japan Rail Pass
- Make sure you get it ahead of time!
- Read everything you need to know about the Japan Rail Pass here.
- Drivers license
- Airline tickets, hotel reservation and car rental info
- I use an app called Tripit to store all my travel itinerary information.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).