What you need to pack to wear in Japan will vary depending on what time of the year you're travelling and where you’re going.
Summer months can be incredibly hot and sticky, so loose, lightweight and breathable clothing is essential for travel over June, July and August. While linen and cotton are good options, cotton in particular does not dry well in Japan's humid climate.
Spring and autumn can be crisp to cold, so depending on your sensitivity level you might want to pack thermal layers in addition to your coat and boots.
Outside of Hokkaido and the mountains, the winter temperatures in Japan are manageable as long as you have regular cold weather clothes like a good coat, pair of gloves, a winter hat and a scarf.
The style of dress common for women in Japan may be a little more covered up than you are used to, particularly outside the major cities. While miniskirts and short-shorts are common in places like Kyoto and Tokyo, it’s rare to see women with exposed cleavage. Be aware that a low-cut top can draw more attention than you’re expecting.
Below are a few suggestions for things you’ll want to pack no matter when (or where) you’re going.
Must-pack items for Japan
Nice socks – there’s nothing worse than taking your shoes in the genkan (entryway) only to shuffle inside, awkwardly trying to hide the big toe peeking through the hole of your old sock. In Japan, you’ll be expected to remove your shoes at homes, anywhere with tatami mat flooring and in ryokans. Pack more socks than you normally need and pack ones you don’t mind other people getting a glimpse of.
Raincoat – even in winter, the driest time of the year, Tokyo still gets an average of nine days of rainfall a month. While just how wet it can get varies depending on where you are, no matter what season you’re travelling in it’s a great idea to pack a lightweight raincoat and carry it on you at all times, just in case.
Comfortable pants/trousers – in Japan, you might find yourself sitting on the floor more than you’re used to. Even if you’re not adopting the formal seiza position (knees bent with your butt sitting on the back of your calves), it’s a good idea to wear stretchy or loose long pants that you feel comfortable bending and crossing your legs in.
See our ultimate packing list for a more comprehensive list of items you should bring on your trip to Japan.
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