What to Pack for Japan: Everything you Need to Know About Packing for Japan

So you’re finally planning that long awaited trip to Japan. You know where you’re going to be going, and what you want to do.

However, now that it’s time to get everything together you’re stuck on what to pack for Japan. What are the most useful items to bring, or what kind of weather can you expect when you go? The more you think about it, the more you wonder: “What do I need to pack for Japan?”.

Fortunately, from clothes to carry-ons, this article will cover everything you need to know about packing for a trip to Japan.

Let's get started!

Is it ok to wear a backpack in Japan?

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Of course you can wear a backpack in Japan. However, there are some tips to keep in mind if you want to have an easy time blending in.

Especially if you’re in a big city like Tokyo, it can be beneficial to bring a smaller bag. I know, I know, it’s tempting to bring that massive 45L carry-on for more storage space, but you’re going to have a bad time on the Tokyo Metro.

Instead, it might be better to bring a less bulky bag that can still fit all of your needs. 

We recommend the Voyager camera backpack. It’s a midsize bag; versatile for city and rural travel. It’s also got special compartments for camera gear or your laptop, making it a great camera and lens backpack. By far, this is one of the best backpacks for travel.

It’s even made of a weatherproof material, making it perfect for when you’re out and about, rain or shine. And, on top of that, you’ll have quick access to everything you need. The Voyager has multiple access points to equipment with both rear access, side access, and a top pocket for your convenience. 

However, if you want to go even lighter and only pack a few essentials while you’re out, consider this handy tech pouch

What to pack for Japan

If you’re traveling from America, it can be easy for Japanese customs and norms to throw you off a bit. Especially if you’re wondering: “What should I pack for Tokyo?”It's good to go into such a big city prepared.

In order to better prepare yourself, here’s our list of essential things to pack for Japan. Keep in mind that this isn’t a general travel packing list, but rather what to pack for Japan specifically:

  • Type A Outlet Adapter. While there are type B outlets in Japan (3 prong), type A (2 prong) is also very common. If you have a laptop with a type B plug, it might be a good idea to get an adaptor. 
  • Portable Power Bank. Being on a plane for 12 hours, or a Japanese train for 5 hours is a lot easier when you have your electronic devices to entertain you. Luckily, this portable power bank makes it easy to entertain yourself without fear of losing power. 
  • Japan Rail Pass. This prepaid pass is a quick and easy way to get everywhere you need to go!
  • Your Camera. There’s so much to see and do in Japan that you won’t want to forget your camera. If you’re not sure what kind of camera to bring, don’t worry, we’ve got a list of the best cameras for photographers. Plus, if you want to learn more about the rule of thirds, ambient lighting, or other photography techniques, we also go in depth on those topics. 
  • Translator App. Not all of us have mastered our Duolingo lessons. So, while many places in Japan will have English signs and speakers, never underestimate the usefulness of a translator app.

Also, given that Japan experiences all four seasons, it’s important to know what clothes to pack for the time you’ll be going. Here are our tips:

What to pack for Japan in spring/autumn

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While the crimson Japanese maples or pink cherry blossoms can be a beautiful sight, it’s important to be prepared for Japan’s climate. 

If you're wondering what to pack for Japan in October, or what to pack for Japan in spring, there are a few comparable places in America. For example, New England here in the U.S. has similar seasonal changes. 

Overall, knowing what to pack for Japan in spring and autumn is all about layers. If you can, bring some Cotton or long-sleeved t-shirts, light jackets and thin jumpers. Jackets are especially useful, as you can shed them off if there's a hot day or two. 

Plus, layers also do wonders for traveling on Japanese bullet trains, as they can get chilly due to the air con.

What to pack for Japan in Winter

Winter isn’t the most popular time to go to Japan, but that can come with a few benefits. Less tourists, and fun winter activities!

However, it’s important to dress warm in the winter. Especially in northern parts of Japan, you can expect plenty of snow. We recommend a warm jacket, sweaters, thick socks and winter accessories like gloves and hats. 

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What to pack for Japan in Summer

If you like sunflowers and cicadas, summertime in Japan might be the perfect thing for you.

Summer can be pretty hot and humid though, so bring t-shirts, shorts, sunglasses, and maybe even a raincoat for the frequent downpours. 

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What can you not bring to Japan?

If you’re also curious about what not to bring to Japan, or what should you not wear in Japan, consider this list:

  • Animal products like meat, eggs and dairy (they will be subject to quarantine).
  • Items made from CITES-listed species (mostly anything made from an Endangered Species)
  • Illegal Drugs (marijuana, hashish and stimulant drugs are the most commonly used that are prohibited)
  • Guns
  • Counterfeit products
  • Uncensored pornography

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What should you not wear in Japan?

While there aren’t too many taboo clothing items in Japan, we do have a few tips for what not to wear. 

  1. Black tie. In Japan, black ties are generally associated with funerals, making them an overly sober choice for business wear. 
  2. Revealing clothes. Sleeveless and revealing shirts are generally frowned upon, especially for women. 
  3. Sneakers. Unless you immediately want to be labeled as an American. Go with slip on shoes instead. 
  4. Clothes that reveal your tattoos. Though many Japanese are accepting of tourists with tattoos, they’re still associated with the infamous Yakuza gang. For that reason, tattoos are generally taboo in the country. 

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Up Next: How to Pack a Backpack

Now that you know what to pack for Japan, let us know in the comments what parts of the country you plan to visit.

And, if you want to learn more about how to pack your Voyager backpack like a pro, check out our article on just that!

Up Next: How to Pack a Backpack →

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