Packing for Japan: an all seasons packing list

Packing for Japan: an all seasons packing list

Have you ever had a last-minute meltdown when packing? Or have you ever second-guessed your packing choices? This happens to me every time I travel. It seems a little ridiculous, given the rate at which I travel… But I can’t seem to help myself!

The last time I traveled to Japan, I was there for 3 months and ended up bringing everything but the kitchen sink. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I want to share my learnings from my experience.

I have learned the hard way that bringing all.the.things will result in you lugging your heavy luggage around Tokyo train stations, which are famed for being difficult places to find lifts and escalators. Anddd if like me, you visit in the Summer, you will also be sweating (and swearing!) all while carrying your heavy suitcase… Not a pretty or comfortable experience!

In this article, 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, my friends…

 

What to pack when visiting Japan in… Summer

This time of year can be SWELTERING, especially if you’re in Tokyo or Kyoto. Add to this, it’s rainy season, and you have a crazy combination! Pack light, breathable layers and don’t forget a raincoat or umbrella.

Things to pack:

  • Raincoat
  • Umbrella (or buy a clear umbrella as a souvenir!)
  • Sandals
  • Comfortable shoes (sneakers are perfectly acceptable)
  • 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!
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts, skirts, thin fabric pants
  • Dresses
  • Fans (these make great souvenirs if you want to purchase one in Japan!)
  • Light, long-sleeved top for evenings (if it gets cold)

Make sure you download our FREE packing checklist, 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

Other things to note:

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.

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, you can expect colder temperatures, especially in the evenings.

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!)

packing for japan

One of my most favorite places in Japan – Naoshima: The Japanese Art Island

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What to pack when visiting Japan in… Autumn/ Fall

The days will start to get colder, so you’ll need to pack warmer clothes. If visiting during this time of year, you’ll be rewarded with smaller crowds and gold and red fall leaves.

If you’re traveling during this time of year – 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!

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

Depending on which part of autumn you visit, you may want to alter the above items. If traveling closer to summer, you likely won’t need beanies or scarves. However, 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

What to pack when visiting Japan in… Spring

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 as you progress into spring, it starts to get warm and uncomfortable. Pack light layers and be prepared to mix it up a little!

  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Light jackets
  • Light jumper for colder mornings and evenings
  • Light scarf
  • Jeans
  • Sneakers or closed toe shoes
Other things to note:

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 varies around the world and you won’t have any problems, it pays to be prepared so you can enjoy the flowers!

packing for japan

What to pack when visiting Japan in… Winter

Depending on where you’re planning on visiting in Japan, winter can be coldddd! Make sure you pack in layers, especially if you’re planning on sightseeing.

  • Down jacket or very warm jacket!
  • Jumper
  • Long sleeve tops
  • Jeans or long pants
  • Woolen or thick socks (avoid cotton!)
  • Boots or waterproof shoes
  • Sneakers (if you’re planning on staying in the city)
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Disposable hand warmers (these can also be purchased in convenience stores)

Make sure you download our FREE packing checklist, 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

Other things to note:

If you are traveling from the Northern Hemisphere and hence are used to colder climates, I would 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.

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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
  • 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 want to hear from you: do you have any packing horror stories?

After my recent experience lugging around a super heavy suitcase through the trains of Tokyo, I will be adopting the “less is more” philosophy.

Leave me a comment below and share your experiences!

 

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

 

 

 

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