The Checklist: What to Pack for Your Trip to Japan
This question has been commonly asked by many potential Japan visitors, being unsure, most probably because of Japan’s fashionable, effortlessly, and intimidatingly cool people and amazing sceneries. But to tell you what, Japan is a very modest nation. And whether you’re going on a three-day business trip or planning for a two-week outdoor adventure in Japan, here is a checklist for maximizing your suitcase space, minimizing your load, and cutting down on wrinkles.
INVEST IN A COMPACT CARRY-ON
While there is no universal carry-on bag size and the choice of what bag to bring is still yours, it is better to pick a luggage that is lightweight, versatile, durable, and big enough to hold your essentials. It is also wise to carry a bag that lets you be hands-free while navigating your routes especially when you’re going solo. Japan is a busy city and you sure do not want to experience the hassle of bumping into people and things while having trouble with your luggage.
One useful tip if you are planning to use a suitcase, make sure to restrict the size of your bag to 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. While that is the standard size for many domestic airlines, the size is often smaller for international flights.
BRING THE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
It is very important that you always have all the necessary documents with you whenever and wherever you travel. These will help you with all your dealings and save you from getting kicked out of Japan:
- Passport: It must have at least 6 months of validity and 1 empty page.
- VISA: As of July 2017, there are 68 countries whose nationals can enter Japan without a VISA. You may want to check if you belong to the 68.
- Flight tickets: It is always helpful to have a paper copy of your flight tickets to refer to and to show to the airport staff. Occasional troubles are inevitable and it’s always better to be prepared than sorry.
- Hotel reservations: Most especially if the hotel provides an address in Japanese, a print out of your hotel reservation can be helpful for taxi drivers.
One useful tip is to have a copy of your passport and card details. You can also photograph your passport photo page and the front and back of your cards. If you should lose any one of these, you will have all the details and emergency numbers with you.
BRING ENOUGH CASH WITH YOU
Cash, in Japan, is the number one payment option. Most shops do not accept credit or debit cards so don’t be surprised to see the Japanese carrying tens of thousands of yen in their wallets.
Before you go to Japan, if it’s possible, obtain some local Japanese yen from your banks. Though you cannot guarantee that you will get the best rate, at least you have enough to carry you through your first few days in Japan. It is also wise to inform your banks that you’ll be flying to Japan to help you ensure that you can use your cards and take out some yen whenever you need it.
However, if you arrive in Japan without yen, you may exchange currency or withdraw from the foreign-friendly ATM’s in the airport and 7-Eleven conbini or convenience stores.
PACK AS LIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE
The first golden tip when talking about packing is to “Pack as lightly as possible”. But aside from keeping it light, you must also pack wisely and avoid from taking unnecessary things to your trip. You are wrong to think that Japan’s trains and train stations will be spacious enough for travelers with a lot of luggage. The truth is – the space is limited and therefore traveling with small to medium-sized bags will be the most convenient and ideal thing to carry.
PACK CLOTHES YOU CAN EASILY LAYER
Japan’s weather changes pretty quickly, so it’s your best bet to bring clothes you can easily layer including jeans, jumpers, scarves, and coats for the cooler months; and dresses, skirts, and cotton tops for the warmer months.
Keep it simple. Note that you do not have to pack every item of clothing that you own. There are plenty of great shops in Japan selling affordable clothes. So if ever you are missing anything, you can always buy from them at a decent price.
BRING SHOES THAT SLIP ON AND OFF EASILY
No, you don’t have to wear the traditional Japanese geta sandals. Many places in Japan including the temples, ryokans, and izakayas and restaurants will require you to remove your shoes more often before entering. But unless you enjoy untying and lacing your shoes every few minutes, it’s wise to bring an easy-to-slip-on-and-off shoe.
DON’T EVER FORGET ABOUT THE TOILETRIES
Though hotel rooms provide incredibly generous vanity kits including hair brush, tooth brush, body sponge, and et cetera, having a well-stocked toiletries bag can save you from a lot of inconvenience and discomfort.
HAVE WITH YOU A TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT
Unlike in some other countries where you can duck down to the nearest pharmacy or corner store and pick up some paracetamol, stores in Japan close as early as 9 in the evening. Take the risk out of it and pack medicines for cold and flu, hay fever, allergy, or ibuprofen, paracetamol, tums, and Imodium.
ELECTRONIC DEVICES YOU MUST CARRY WITH YOU
For a convenient experience getting around Japan, you might want to consider bringing the following (aside from your smart phone, of course, you will surely never forget that):
- Charger: It will be better if you will bring a roll-up travel charger. It won’t only save you time in packing and unpacking charging equipment, it also minimizes the clutter and put up all your much-needed charger in one bar.
- Power bank: You don’t want your phone to die while capturing the finest sceneries in Japan.
- Pocket Wi-Fi: Though most of the hotels and restaurants in Japan provide free internet facilities, having a pocket Wi-Fi with you is a wise decision. However, you might want to consider just renting one.
- Travel adapter: For your information, Japan uses a two-prong without the ground pin.