When travelling to any destination there are considerations to be made on what to pack, and what not to pack. Let's take a look at what you need packed, and what you can leave at home to have a great vacation in Japan.
What you pack for a trip can sometimes make or break the whole thing for you. How many times have you been driving to the airport and thought "Daammnnnn!" You forgot the phone cable, world plug converter, a jacket, (Let's hope not "my passport!"). We have all had this happen one time or another, and end up buying unnecessary accessories at the airport for an inflated cost or at your destination. Then there are the items you never thought you would need while away.
Let's look at the things you must bring to Japan.
Best to start with what you’re going to be packing into. Suitcases and Japan are unique, as you will be using trains a lot while on vacation you want a good suitcase to carry up and down stairs. Getting yourself a good hard cased, four wheel suitcase is ideal for Japan. They are easy to navigate around busy stations and streets, and can take a beating. You will notice very quickly that this is the most used type of suitcase in Japan.
For your carry one luggage, you may want to consider bringing just a backpack, while you're moving around a train station with your suitcase already, another wheelie carry on could make things complicated for yourself.
From our experience, the less suitcases the better.
Don’t forget your passport. You are not going anywhere without it!
Before packing anything in your suitcase, we recommend making three copies of your itinerary, passports, tickets and confirmations, and putting a copy in your suitcase behind the fabric lining. One copy left at your house, and one with a friend. If you're travelling with a phone or ebook reader, scan a copy and store it on these devices as well. This way you will have all your information obtainable if anything goes awry.
If you can't scan your passport, you could take a photo of your passport with your phone. This way you always have a copy with you.
It's important that at a minimum, you travel with copies or photos of your passports, so that if anything happens, your identification is on you, and it makes getting a replacement passport easier if you have all the information of your previous one on hand.
With Japlanning.com custom itineraries coming soon will make sure you have the best copies to take and leave behind!
Japan, depending on season, will make you need to bring a bit of everything in your wardrobe. During the cold months, it can go from cold to freezing overnight, to even snow. However, this is contrast to everywhere indoors with 30+ degree heating running 24/7.
The opposite will happen in the warmer months. During summer, it is humid in Japan and you should expect frequent bursts of rain, yet everywhere inside will have the AC cranked to 15 degrees and you will be clamouring for your jacket to keep warm. The sweat on your back will go from dripping to freezing in seconds.
Looking at the chart below you can see the month to month average temperatures and rainfall-
Here we can see what months will be colder and those that are warmer.
We would suggest packing clothing that suits the timeframes temperatures.
However, remember to bring a warm jacket or sweater in the warmer months, that can be put in a backpack so when you go into a freezing store you can combat the AC.
In winter have layers so you can strip some off when you get into the heat indoors.
It’s all about having the right clothes with you to keep you as comfortable as possible.
Another recommendation is to bring clothes you like, but you won’t mind ditching if you have to. For example, you could take only generic tee’s to wear, so that if you get to 'a push comes to shove' point, at the end of your holiday, and you need to free up space in your luggage or need to reduce weight, these are an easy thing to ditch in place of those awesome Japanese things you have bought! Same thing goes with underwear and socks.
So bring the ones you don’t mind leaving there.
Unlike clothing, good comfortable walking shoes are a must. You will be walking a lot in Japan, and you have to keep your feet from getting tired or strained.
A good slip on shoe is perfect for Japan
In Japanese culture, it is customary that when entering a house that you will take off your shoes. This custom also applies at many shrines, temples, ryokans, museums and some restaurants. Wearing a slip on show will make visiting a lot of places in Japan easier as you won't need to hop around while trying to take off / put on your shoes. Just slip them off and slip them back on when you’re done.
Make sure you keep a pair of socks on you too while traveling during the day in Japan. In case you get in a sudden rainstorm and feet get soaked, a pair of dry socks will be a lifesaver, and will help you not having to make an impromptu stop back at the hotel.
For Japan, you are going to want a good sized backpack or satchel. You will be walking around a lot in Japan and most likely buying things and picking up maps, brochures and other bits and pieces. Your hands are going to get full and heavy fast which will only slow you down.
Be sure that have a sturdy bag that works with your back. There is no point getting a backpack that hurts you! It will be a part of you for 12+ hours a day!
Umbrellas: Japan is a rainy place between July and August. You will having rain constantly, and an umbrella is imperative to having a successful trip in this time. However it still rains regularly throughout the year. The problem with umbrellas is they take up space, and depending on your choice of parasol, can be a hassle to carry.
We would recommend not bringing one with you.
This is an item you can purchase everywhere in Japan, and they come cheap. Heck, they sell them in vending machines at most train stations. From compact ones, to massive see through ones, the one you buy in Japan will be cheaper, and probably be better than the one you cart to Japan from home. They also make a great memento to bring home too.
When travelling to most places in the world you pack your essentials: toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, comb, shavers and cream, cotton buds etc. You’re travelling to Japan now, and the good news is the majority of hotels supply all of these amenities in all rooms! The toothbrush and toothpaste are quite small usually, so you may want to bring your own. All that they supply is replenished daily, so you will get new ones each day, so don’t worry too much if you thing the toothpaste isn’t enough for your whole stay.
If you do chose to bring all your toiletries we recommend two things –
- Put them in zip lock bags, that way you don’t have a large toiletry bag to carry around taking up too much space in your bag, that could be amazing souvenirs space instead.
- Take small amounts and things you won’t mind missing. When push comes to shove at the end of a trip, it’s an easy thing to dispose of to free up space and weight in your luggage.
Hand sanitiser a great little product to bring along with you. Most bathrooms will have hand washing facilities, however we have found that on the shinkansen trains, the toilets don’t usually have soap facilities for washing your hands, only hot water. So a little sanitiser squirt pack will help keep the germs at bay.
An item you won’t need to bring with you is tissues. Japan is a very commercialistic society, there is advertising everywhere and you will even find people at street intersections, and near train stations, handing out pamphlets with more ads. The best part of all this is most of the hand outs are packs of free tissues with advertising wrapped around them, so just pick up all these when they are offered and you will have plenty of tissues for your journey!
DO NOT bring your hairdryer with you, all hotel rooms will supply one, and it’s a lot of weight and space taken up for something the hotel will supply.
Traveling and have medications? There are a couple of things to keep in mind for Japan:
- Pseudoephedrine is illegal. Got the sniffles? Bring some decongestants without pseudoephedrine as an ingredient.
- Bring copies of all of your prescriptions.
- Bring some pain killers like panadol or tylenol. Japanese chemists are cool, but unless you're fluent in reading Japanese you may be searching for a while.
- Use eye drops? Don’t bring them with you. Japan has many varieties and they are affordable, so pick them up there.
- Take your vitamins with you. Put them in Zip lock bags, so you’re not carting a 500 capsule bottle on a 7-day trip.
Best thing to keep in mind is making sure any medications you need are okay for taking into Japan, a Google search will usually help you with this.
Traveling and electronics go hand in hand now days. You need your iPad for the flight, your phone to check in, cameras to capture everything, and your laptop to let all your friends on Facebook know what’s going on.
Our recommendations for electronics to prepare, and pack for your Japanese vacation are:
- A universal adaptor and a power board. Make sure you have a plug that will accept your local chargers, and will plug into a Japanese socket. Use the power board from home to charge everything from one outlet.
- Check the voltages! Make sure your products agree with Japans voltages (100 volt). You don’t want to fry your stuff! (Unless it’s bacon).
- Charge! Make sure everything is fully charged the night before you take off.
- Organise and check that all your cables are in your bag. There is nothing worse than getting to Japan and realising your camera is not going to last you more than a day.
- Batteries! If your camera has replaceable batteries, make sure you bring two sets. You will rarely have one last a day, and this way you won’t miss capturing anything.
- Have that iPad full of games, TV and movies for the flight over and the shinkansen trips to keep you and/or the kids entertained.
The best thing to do when packing is read up on the best things and take what you think works for you from it. Not everything above will affect everyone traveling to Japan. Use your judgment, and take what advice works best for your vacation.
So what are some must pack things for you while on vacation?
Let us know in the comments below!