How to Pack for Japan
Going to Japan is like no other place I have ever been to. The country is extremely organized and most hotels have many toiletry items for you, so you can lessen your load. I went on a 15 day trip to Tokyo & Kyoto in late September. The weather was all over the place from 72 and raining to 90 hot & humid.
The bag you bring is as important as what’s inside. Consider size, shape & weight of your bag in relation to climbing 4 flights of stairs. I’ll explain more about this below.
Couple Rules About Packing for Japan
- Don’t overpack, but bring an extra bag.
- Don’t bring any suitcase larger than a carry-on.
- Pack simply & plan to wear clothes 2x.
- Pack good quality walking shoes.
Don’t Overpack for Japan
One of my favorite things about Japan are all the shopping options and trust me, I brought a 35L backpack with a lot of room for purchases. Shopping is a national past time and if you like doing it just a little, you will buy lots of cool stuff from clothes to packaged food. Bring an extra
suitcase for your purchases. If you wait until the end of the trip to start loading it up, hauling it around won’t be so bad.
Most hotels have a complete line of toiletries including: shampoo, conditioner, body soap, toothbrush, hairbrush, and even razors. You can eliminate a lot of weight & bulk by not buying these or buying them once you arrive in Japan. You will also have room slippers, a yukata (robe) or sometimes pajamas for you.
Don’t Bring a Big Suitcase
Japanese hotel rooms are notoriously small. Stay in central Tokyo and you are sleeping in a closet. If you suitcase is too large, it will eat up all the available space in your room. Plus navigating the cities with large suitcases (including public transportation) is not fun. Think Tokyo metros at
Can you climb 4 flights of stairs with your suitcase? You will do an enormous amount of walking, especially in Tokyo where the metro exit can be .5 miles away from where the train drops you.
My 35L bag consisted for 2 packing cubes and 1 toiletry cube. I packed 2 pairs of shoes (& ended up buying a 3rd). I packed 2 pairs of pants (sporty black & jeans) and about 4 tops. I planned to wear each one 2 times and knew I would buy more. I packed 1 dress and 1 pair of shorts. For the plane and the 2 cold days I experienced, I had a light-weight pullover. I went with black, white & gray color scheme.
The colors I picked are classic travel and I was very happy how everything blended well with one another. Probably one of the my best packing trips. Trust me, it’s a constant struggle for style, comfort & durability.
This is my #1 tip. I was averaging 10 miles a day in Tokyo and it was killing my body because I didn’t have shoes for that amount of wear & tear on my feet. I had a pair of Allbird flats which are incredibly comfortable but only up to a point. They are not designed for heavily 7+ mile straight walking. They are perfect in the evenings when I tend to walk less.
I also packed some black canvas shoes that were great upto a point. I decided to buy some high quality running shoes which really saved me and I kicked myself for not packing them initially.