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Packing for Japan: an all seasons packing list

Packing for Japan: an all seasons packing list

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Planning a trip to Japan? Not sure where to even begin when it comes to packing for Japan?

I learned the hard way that carrying too much in your suitcase leads to sore arms and a lot of stuff that you don’t ever end up using. Train stations in Tokyo are famed for having hidden lifts, so trust me when I say you want a lighter load when traveling here!

In this guide, I’m going to share my tips for packing for Japan, covering each of the seasons – Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring. So regardless of when you’re visiting Japan, I’ve got you covered!

Read on for my Japan packing lists, my friends…

 

Packing for Japan in… Summer

When: June – August

The temperature in Tokyo: during these months can be anywhere between 19 – 30 deg C / 60 – 86 deg F

While these temperatures don’t look too hot, what really adds to the heat is the humidity.

This time of year can be SWELTERING, especially if you’re in Tokyo or Kyoto. It’s also the rainy season, which can make for a confusing combination of hot and sticky (with a side of rain).

When heading to Japan during this time of year, make sure you pack light, breathable layers and don’t forget a raincoat or umbrella.

My summer packing list for Japan includes:

  • Light Raincoat
  • Umbrella (check out the clear umbrellas which are really popular in Japan!)
  • Sandals
  • Comfortable walking shoes/sneakers
  • Swimsuit (if visiting coastal areas)
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • Insect repellant: if you are outside during dawn or dusk, or hiking outdoors, mosquito repellant is a must during the summer!
  • Breathable T-shirts
  • Shorts, skirts, or pants made from a breathable fabric
  • Dresses
  • Fans (this is a fun “kawaii” cat fan)
  • Light, long-sleeved top for evenings (if it gets cold)

If you’re visiting major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka during summer, the main aim is to pack light, breathable fabric which you can layer during the evenings. Traveling in Japan during the summer can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to hot weather, but it’s also a beautiful time of year to visit with many festivals!

If you are visiting Northern Japan (e.g., Hokkaido) or mountainous regions (like Kamikochi) it is essential to bring a light jacket and/or long pants like jeans. These areas aren’t as hot in the summer, so you can expect colder temperatures, especially in the evenings.

About towels in Japan: It’s very popular during summer to carry around a small towel to pat down any sweat you may accumulate during the day. This is also popular for children who may struggle in the hot weather. If this is something that will make you feel more comfortable, bring your own small towel, or you can purchase these from convenience stores (which are very easy to find in major cities and towns in Japan!)

About air conditioning in Japan: In most buildings in Japan, these maximum temperature setting is 24 deg C or 75 deg F. This means that in the summer, even if you enter a public building it can be pretty warm still. I usually am someone who struggles in summer because of the hot outside weather and the air conditioning that was is too cold inside… I didn’t have this problem in Japan! Of course, it helps to take precautions as there are occasional cold moments, but most of the time Japan is very hot in summer.

 

packing for japan

Packing for Japan in the Summer can be hard, but you’re rewarded with beautiful weather like in this!

Pictured: Naoshima: The Japanese Art Island

Make sure you download our FREE Japan packing list, which outlines everything you need to pack, depending on what season you’re traveling to Japan!

Click the image below to download your free checklist PDF:

Click here to download your checklist

 

Packing for Japan in… Autumn/ Fall

When: September – November

The temperature in Tokyo: during these months can be anywhere between 9 – 27 deg C / 49 – 81 deg F

While this seems like a big range of temperatures, they really depend on whether you are traveling closer to summer (i.e. September) or closer to winter (i.e. November).

During this time of year, the days will start to get colder, so you’ll need to pack warmer clothes. You’re lucky – if visiting during Autumn, you’ll be rewarded with smaller crowds and golden colored fall leaves.

Make sure you layer up! Depending on where you’re headed, you may find the temperatures vary quite a bit. For example, Hokkaido is always known to be cooler in temperature than Tokyo and Kyoto – pack accordingly!

My autumn packing list for Japan includes:

  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Warm jacket/ coat
  • Warm jumper/ sweater
  • Scarf
  • Woolen hat or beanie
  • Jeans
  • Boots or sneakers
  • Warm socks (preferably woolen)

Remember to think in layers – items that you can use to make yourself warmer if necessary. Also take note of where exactly in Japan you’re heading to (remember: the more north, the colder it will be!)

Depending on which month you visit, you may want to alter the adapt the listed items. If you’re traveling closer to summer, you might not need beanies or scarves. Similarly, if you’re visiting in November, you might want to bring warmer closer.

This is a personal choice and as always pack for you and what you need! And if you’re not sure – it’s very easy to go shopping in Japan!

packing for japan

Packing for Japan inSpring

When: March – June

The temperature in Tokyo: during these months can be anywhere between 5 – 26 deg C / 41 – 78 deg F

One of the most popular times of year to visit Japan, and rightfully so – the cherry blossoms are amazing!

This time of year is very much a transition season, so you may find that the start of spring is on the colder side, but the closer it gets to summer, it can starts to get warm. Pack layers and be prepared to mix it up a little!

My spring packing list for Japan includes:

  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Light jackets
  • Light jumper for colder mornings and evenings
  • Light scarf
  • Jeans
  • Sneakers or closed toe shoes
  • Wide angle clip-on lens for your phone’s camera… Because you will inevitably take more photos during Cherry Blossom season than you normally would!

If you are visiting during Cherry Blossom season and you are prone to pollen allergies, make sure you bring any hayfever or allergy medication you usually use. While pollen types vary around the world, make sure you come prepared if this is something you normally would struggle with at home. You want to be prepared so you can enjoy the flowers!

Side note: my partner has terrible allergies to pollen at home in Melbourne, Australia so we made sure to bring his anti-histamines. Surprise surprise, it turned out to be a problem when we were in Japan during Sakura season – luckily we were prepared!

packing for japan

Sakura during the spring months in Japan

Packing for Japan in Winter

When: December – February

The temperature in Tokyo: during these months can be anywhere between 4 – 12 deg C / 40 – 54 deg F

Depending on where you’re planning on visiting in Japan, winter can be cold! Make sure you pack in layers, especially if you’re planning on spending a lot of time on foot exploring.

My winter packing list for Japan includes:

If you are traveling from the Northern Hemisphere and hence are used to colder climates, I would look up historical temperatures for the cities you’re visiting and pack depending on what you’re used to.

If you’re traveling from a warmer climate or the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, it always helps to be prepared! If you don’t have access to warm clothes, I’d highly suggest a visit to a second-hand store or your local Uniqlo store (if you have them in your country). It is also very easy to purchase clothing when you arrive – down jackets of various thickness are very easy to find, especially in local Uniqlo stores in Japan.

Make sure you download our FREE Japan packing list, which outlines everything you need to pack, depending on what season you’re traveling to Japan!

Click the image below to download your free checklist PDF:

Click here to download your checklist

 

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Things to pack for a trip to Japan regardless of the time of year:

  • Electrical converter plugs (note: wall sockets in Japan are either 2 prong or 3 prongs, similar to the US sockets. If you are from a country that has 3 prongs, like Australia, please note that you may have problems finding a plug that will convert your 3 prong plug into a 2 prong plug).
  • Your camera, spare SD cards, and spare batteries
  • Any special medication you require
  • Re-usable water bottle (tap water is safe to drink!)
  • Powerbank for your phone
  • Tablets, laptop + charger, headphones & other electronics you need

So there you have it – my all seasons packing guide for Japan!

Planning a trip can be stressful, without having to deal with the stress of packing. Keep in mind that regardless the time of year you visit Japan, it’s a place you can buy what you need if you forget to bring something!

packing for japan

I hope you found my packing lists for Japan helpful!

Now tell me: what month are you visiting Japan? What will you be packing for Japan?

Leave me a comment below and let me know!

 

Want to read more Japan content? Make sure you check out some of our other Japan planning content:

 

 

 

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6 Comments

    • Mae-Gene
      Author
      March 11, 2018 / 6:49 pm

      I’m so glad you found this useful, Justine! Hope you have a wonderful time in Japan 🙂

  1. April 23, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    I really don’t know what I expected from Japans weather but I was still surprised to know it’s so diverse. Thanks fro all the suggestions!

    • Mae-Gene
      Author
      October 16, 2018 / 10:15 pm

      I’m glad you found this helpful, Darryl!

  2. Indi
    October 10, 2018 / 4:19 am

    Hi! This is a really nice and informative post, I thank you so much for this. But before that, i’d like to ask, if I plan to visit Tokyo on early December 2018 (4-9 Dec), would it still be fall/autumn or it’s gonna be winter already? Or, if you are also not sure because it’s in the middle of both season, do you have and recommendation websites that I can look further (eg: Japan weather/season info website or else)? Thank you so much!

    • Mae-Gene
      Author
      October 16, 2018 / 10:14 pm

      Hi Indi, I’m glad you found this guide useful!

      Unfortunately, it’s hard to say for certain, as this is generally the time when the weather transitions. Your best bet would be having a look at historical Tokyo weather data to see what the weather was like last year – but this is no guarantee it will be the same this year. Make sure you pack items that layer well, and you can re-check the weather forecast 2 weeks before you will be in Tokyo too! Hope this helps 🙂

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