The Ultimate Quick List of What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo – Including Printable

What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo

If you are reading this article I expect that you have already completed booking your trip to Japan and are in the final stages of thinking about what you need to pack for your trip to Japan – some of you are looking at this article for the first time three months before you depart and for others you may be departing tomorrow and doing a last minute scramble!  It is an exciting part of any trip as your departure date becomes imminent.

Check out my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – you are welcome to join and it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

Click here to download my Japan Packing List two page printable.

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What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo

Japan and Tokyo Travel Essentials

Below is my recommended packing list of essential things to bring to Japan for any trip.

1. Japan Travel Bag

When selecting your travel bag for Japan, a good general principle when considering your travel bag for Japan and Tokyo is to pack as light as you can manage.

Most visitors to Japan will utilise public transport during their visit, which requires lots of walking, climbing steps and getting around.  The Japan and Tokyo public transport system can get quite crowded and you may only have limited space to store your luggage.  As a result you should plan to take only small and medium size wheeled or backpack style travel bags and a small hand held bag, satchel or backpack.

For further information about what kind of travel bag to purchase for your trip to Japan click here to check out my recommended soft and hard shell luggage options for Japan.

2. Lightweight Folding Tote Bags for Japan

If you are like us you will end up doing some shopping in Japan – we were not prepared for overflow so ended up having to waste time searching for shops to purchase additional luggage while we were on our trip.  I therefore also recommend that it is worthwhile to purchase a couple of additional soft foldable tote bags so you have them ready to go if you also succumb to purchasing additional items.

Click on the below links to check out the color options and pricing for soft foldable tote bags:

3.    Passport and Visa for Japan

Ensure you have a valid passport with at least six months remaining before it expires, otherwise you risk not being allowed to enter Japan on arrival.

Check on this link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan to see which nationalities require a visa.

Matsumoto Castle in Japan

Matsumoto Castle in Japan

4.    Trip Registration

Take action to register your trip details with your government registration service, with the major options detailed below.  This action is important to ensure that if an incident occurs while you are overseas that they know which of their nationals are travelling in that country and can follow up to ensure you are ok.

While you are looking at your government website, also check if there are any travel advisories you should be aware of for Japan.

5.    Drivers Licence and International Drivers Permit (IDP) for Japan

If you are planning to hire or drive a vehicle in Japan you will also need to carry both your Drivers Licence and an International Drivers Permit (IDP).  Click on this link to find out more about where to purchase an IDP.

6.    Flights to, from and within Japan

You should ensure that you have confirmed your flight details to and from and within Japan and have a printout of your flight arrangements with you.  I recommend re-checking these details in the week prior to your trip to ensure that your flights have not changed since you made your booking.

7.    Japan Accommodation

If you have not already made accommodation arrangements in Japan, I suggest that do some research before you depart to ensure that you will have options on arrival.  Ensure that you have the specific address details for each accommodation available.  Japanese street names and numbers are very difficult to navigate, so also ensure that you have the address available in your phone GPS map tool.

My recommended accommodation booking sites for Japan include Booking.com and AirBnB.  Pre-load the accommodation apps from your accommodation sites with your account and booking details on your smart phone – they will usually have a map option to help you find your accommodation.

8.    Arrival Airport Transfer to Hotel in Japan

I also recommend that you pre-book an airport transfer direct to your accommodation on arrival – after a long haul flight it can be very difficult to learn how to use the Japanese public transport system (as we found out!) when you are tired so give yourself the option to ease into the train system when you are well rested and through the initial culture shock.

Depending on where in Japan you arrive there a few different options.

  • For Tokyo you will arrive at either Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT) Airport.  Be aware that while Haneda Airport is only a short distance from the centre of Tokyo, Narita Airport is a good distance east of Tokyo.  A range of airport transfer options are available including the Limousine Bus or private transfers which you can pre-book.
  • For Osaka you will arrive in Kansai International Airport (KIX).  A range of airport transfer options are available including Limousine Bus or private transfers which you can pre-book.

9.    Travel Insurance for Japan

If you have not already made arrangements to purchase travel insurance, pre-departure is the best time as most insurance policies will not enable you to purchase a policy post departure.  If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you will need to take action early to obtain a policy – sometimes before you book your flights to ensure that you can get coverage.

If you have not already purchased travel insurance I recommend that you get a quote from World Nomads travel insurance using the below quotation tool and then book your travel insurance.  Ensure that you check the terms and conditions to ensure that this product is suitable for your needs.  World Nomads provides travel insurance coverage for people from over 150 countries.

10.    Prescription Medicine and Toiletries for Japan

If you require prescription medicine ensure that you have refilled your medication scripts prior to your departure.  Be aware that Japan has strict controls on what medications and medical equipment can and cannot be brought into Japan.  Check out this link for further information and ensure that you comply with the stated requirements.

Bring your standard toiletries with you to Japan, however be aware that toiletries are readily available in convenience stores and pharmacies which are very common.

11.    Japan Rail Pass

When travelling in Japan many visitors purchase a Japan Rail Pass. My recommended option to purchase your National Japan Rail Pass is through the Japan Rail Pass website.  The advantage of using this purchase option is that they ship your voucher direct to your door anywhere in the world.  You can purchase National Japan Rail Pass options include 7, 14 and 21 day passes, in either First Class (Green) or Second Class seats.  For further information click through to my dedicated article on how to purchase the cheapest Japan Rail Passes.

Click here to see the latest JR Pass Prices

 

12. Japan Local Public Transport Card

Another very useful item to plan to purchase after arrival is a local ‘tap on tap off’ public transport card for Japan.  These cards work for intra city travel on most trains, trams, buses and ferries.  You can easily top up the funds on your card at every Japan train station.  Most machines have an English language option and you can only use cash to top up your card.  As you go through the tap on and off machines they display your remaining funds.

The major options are a Suica Card, Pasmo Card and an ICOCA Card. Suica is the main card used in Tokyo and Icoca is the main card used in Kyoto/Osaka.  You will pleased to know that you can purchase any one of these cards, as all three cards can be used in a large range of towns across Japan.

13. Japan Guidebook and Maps

A Japan guidebook is very handy to both plan your trip and to decide what to do each day of your trip.  Click on this link to check out the latest Japan guide books – you can purchase either a hardcopy or an ebook, whichever suits you best.

14. Money for Tokyo and Japan

Japan is quite unique in terms of how you need to manage your money compared to any other country I have visited.  They key thing to understand is that the only places you can draw cash using a credit or debit card from outside Japan are from an ‘International Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)’.  International ATMs are only available inside 7-11 convenience stores or at post offices. Few other ATM machines will work.

15. Cell, Smart or Mobile Phone and Charger

I would definitely recommend you take your cell, smart or mobile phone and charger with you to Japan.  We used ours extensively to help us get around.  A tablet would also be useful, however be aware that tablets are rarely seen in Japan – most of the locals only use smart phones.

If you plan to use your home SIM card follow this list before you depart:

  • Check out the international calling and data costs – so you have no surprises!  If you need to look for other options to hire a SIM card or a pocket Wifi device you can get more information further below in this article – note that you need to pre-order these items before you depart.
  • Contact your phone provider to ensure that you have international roaming activated, otherwise you will not be able to use your phone in Japan.
  • Check whether your phone is locked to your SIM, and clarify whether you have the option to install another SIM card in Japan.
  • Clean out the memory on your phone.  Delete old and unused apps, transfer photos, videos etc to your computer and delete them from the phone.  If you plan to use your phone for photos, check out whether you can purchase an additional memory card for your phone and buy the largest one you can afford.
  • Load Japan specific apps onto your phone as detailed below.
  • To prevent bill shock ensure that you turn off mobile data on your phone as you depart on your flight to Japan.

16. Recommended Phone SIM Card and Pocket Wifi for Japan

My recommended option to pre-order a rental of both SIM and pocket Wifi devices is via the Klook website with options as follows:

  • For arriving in Tokyo, click on this link to check out the prices for the different Wifi and Sim hire options available for pickup from either Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT) airport, plus a select range of alternative pick up points.
  • For arriving in Osaka, click this link to check out the prices for the different Wifi and Sim hire options available for pickup from Kansai International Airport (KIX), plus a select range of alternative pickup points.

The hire package will include a pre-addressed and pre-paid mail satchel which you can post at the airport as you depart.

Mobile or Cell Phone SIM Cards

17. Recommended Phone Applications for Japan

The main cell phone applications which we used regularly through Japan are detailed in my article on Top 16 Smart or Cell Phone Apps for your Trip to Japan – I suggest you check them out and download them before you depart.

18. Backup Cell Phone Battery for Japan

When you travel you are likely to be out and about most days, using your phone as a camera and to assist you to get around.  The last thing you want is for your cell or smart phone to run out of charge.  I therefore recommend that you purchase a backup battery to carry with you as you travel.  Amazon has a good range of options available at the following link – click to see the backup battery for cell phone options available.

If you already own a backup battery I suggest that before you depart you check it is still functional and able to hold charge – I find that the typical life for my cell phone backup batteries is 12 months before I start to notice that they don’t hold their charge as long.

19. Japan Travel Adapter or Plug

A key item to purchase before you depart is a Japan travel adapter or plug.  Options include a single plug to match your home country power plug type, however you can also purchase Japan plugs which can take on or more USB devices.

Be careful if buying cheap versions of these plugs – we purchased a couple of multi-USB plugs while we were in Japan and found that they got very hot and were unable to charge multiple devices at once, which could be a fire risk.

Amazon has a good range of devices – click on this link to choose the Japan Travel Adapter which suits you best, and based on how many devices you plan to carry with you as you travel.  Another useful option is a small power board which can plug into a single Japan travel adaptor.

20. Camera for Japan

Most travellers will want to take photos during their trip to Japan, so ensure that you consider what kind of camera you wish to use during your trip.  I have put together a detailed article with recommended camera options and accessories for Japan – click here to check out the best camera options for your trip to Japan.

21. What to Wear in Japan

Japan Weather

Japan weather is quite variable depending on what season you travel in and which parts of Japan you travel to.  For detailed information about the seasons, temperatures and rainfall  in Tokyo, Kyoto, Sapporo and more generally in Japan please click through on this link.

What Not to Wear in Japan

The overall Japanese clothing fashion style is modern but modest – so avoid necklines which are too low and shorts and skirts which are too short.  In addition, if you plan to visit temples during your visit be aware that they have a dress code so plan to be modest and respectful.

What to Wear in Tokyo and Japan in each Season

  • Spring – March, April and May.  Clothes to wear in Spring include trans seasonal options, as the weather is changeable and may be cooler in the evening.  If you are travelling in the mountain areas plan for the weather to be cooler.
  • Summer – June, July and August.   Clothes to wear in Summer include lightweight and cool clothes, with extra rain gear for the first half of Summer.
  • Autumn – September, October and November.  Clothes to wear in Autumn include trans seasonal clothes, with extra rain gear for the first half of Autumn.
  • Winter – December, January and February.  Clothes to wear in winter include winter clothing with coats, boots, beanies, scarves and gloves. If you are planing to go skiing or snow boarding then you will also need to pack your ski clothing and apres ski gear.

22. Comfortable Footwear

Ensure that you pack well worn in and comfortable footwear for your visit to Japan.  For mostly urban adventures a good pair of sports shoes or other walking shoes will suffice.

If you will be hiking along trails or in the snow then ensure that you have a better quality and waterproof hiking shoe option.

Be aware that in Japanese accommodation that you will be expected to remove your shoes before you enter and wear the provided slippers inside.

23. Pre-purchased Tickets for Japan Tours and Activities

You can pre-purchase tickets for most attractions in Japan before you depart.  below is a summary of key activities you may be interested in visiting.  My recommended website to purchase most tickets and short tours in Japan is the Klook website – they are a reputable travel agency who are an authorised seller of tickets, tours, transport and wifi.

Sumo Throwdown!

Sumo Throwdown!

24. Japan Long Haul Flight Essentials

There is a good chance that you will be flying long haul to Japan – think flights any longer than 7 hours duration.  Long haul flight essentials are as follows:

What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo

Japan and Tokyo Packing List Printable

Click on this link to download my printable two page Japan Packing List to help you easily tick and flick to ensure you don’t forget anything.

Don’t forget to join my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – you are welcome to join and it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!

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6 Comments

  • Holy Moly Anne! Talk about a SUPER comprehensive check list! Have you considered this as a side business? Good stuff!

  • One thing I would add is MEDICATION. I read all the documentation around this and it was overwhelming. Some common over the shelf drugs and presecription drugs that are common in Australia are highly regulated and often banned in Japan. It’s good to know what you can and can’t take in and also apply to bring in some prescription medication if you need it.

    Love that you included the Olympus PEN. It is my go to camera for travelling these days.

    • Thanks Leah, I appreciate you reaffirming that Japan is very strict on what medication you can take in. In the article there is a whole section to address this issue, including a link to the authoritative government site which details what is and isn’t allowed.

      And i loved your review of the Olympus PEN camera – I am very tempted to buy one as well so I included it as a recommended camera option in this article.

  • Mark says:

    Hi Anne,
    Fantastic list! I would suggest a Japan prepaid travel sim card that can be purchased here in Australia to save some confusion and time during a trip (it helped me out heaps when I was over there). I got mine from http://www.travelsimsdirect.com but there are a few sites offering them in Oz.

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