What to Pack for Japan: A Complete Checklist

Travel + Leisure / David Hattan

Planning a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun? Japan is a geographically diverse — and truly stunning — island. Its regions span all types of terrain and climates from snowy peaks to black sand beaches so it’s important to know the most essential items to pack and what to leave behind. Luckily, we’re here to help by providing recommendations and all of the tips and tricks you need to know for packing for this destination, including helpful insights from Kenny Onishi, the general manager of Japan for Intrepid Travel DMC. Keep reading to see our top picks, and to learn more about the dos and don’ts for visiting.

Packing Checklist for Japan

Even if you’re traveling in the winter, Onishi recommends bringing a light load with you: “In general, I think it’s best to pack light and the reason for this is that often travelers do use public transportation in Japan.” While there are elevators and escalators for accessibility in train and bus stations, Onishi stresses that if you’re moving around from city to city, bringing small luggage will be beneficial for getting around. To help with packing less, Onishi explains that you can leave behind basic amenities like shampoo, conditioner, and even pajamas depending on your accommodations. “Most hotels, I’d say at least three-star and above, will always have sleep attire ready for you,” he says. “So, most of them will have some type of pajamas or one of those nighttime kimonos to wear but you’ll want to check with your accommodation beforehand.” The same goes for other toiletry items like toothbrushes, razors, toothpaste, and shower caps.

Here are the items we’d recommend you do bring on your next trip to Japan.


Clothing for Women

Best Top: Madewell Poplin Puff-sleeve Cutout Crop TopBest Pants: Maeve The Colette Cropped Wide-leg PantsBest Skirt: Quince 100% Washable Silk SkirtBest Dress: Everlane The Daytripper ShirtdressBest Rain Coat: Athleta RainOut Sutro TrenchBest Jacket: Abercrombie & Fitch Traveler Bomber Jacket

Clothing for Men

Best Top: Cuts AO Curve-hem Tee Best Pants: Bonobos Original Stretch Washed ChinoBest Shorts: VRST Men’s 7-inch Resort ShortBest Rain Coat: Vuori Palisades Rain JacketBest Jacket: Everlane The Organic Cotton Herringbone Utility Jacket


Best Walking Shoes: Olukai Lī ‘Ili Sneakers for Women and Men


Best Travel-size Umbrella: Goothdurs Automatic Mini Travel UmbrellaBest Coin Purse: Travelon Rfid Blocking Clip Stash PouchBest Travel Pillow: Cabeau The Neck’s Evolution TNE S3 Travel PillowBest Sunglasses: Costa Sullivan Sunglasses

Luggage and Bags

Best Carry-on Backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35LBest Carry-on Suitcase: Herschel Heritage Hardshell Carry-on LuggageBest Toiletry Bag: Calpak ​​Small Clear Cosmetics CaseBest Crossbody Purse: Lioscre Small Sling Crossbody BagClothing

The current style in Japan is minimalist-chic which is perfect for traveling lightly. You’ll want to pack just a few tops and bottoms that can be mixed and matched throughout your trip to maximize space and not stand out too much. Of course, you’re welcome to wear what makes you feel the most comfortable and confident but the style in Japan is a bit more modest and elevated so you’ll likely see both men and women dressed in business-casual attire as everyday clothing.

Clothing for Women

Best Top

Madewell Poplin Puff-Sleeve Cutout Crop Top


View On ZapposView On NordstromView On Madewell.com

It’s important to bring tops that can be worn with several different outfits like this versatile Madewell blouse. The lightweight cotton material is ideal for Tokyo’s humid weather conditions but the simple top can easily be paired with a jacket or cardigan for cooler temperatures. Pair the blouse with high-waisted pants or a flowy skirt and you have yourself a stylish outfit for visiting temples or dining at restaurants.

Price at time of publish: $82

Best Pants

Maeve The Colette Cropped Wide-Leg Pants


View On AnthropologieView On Nuuly.com

While jeans are certainly not a bad option, these Maeve wide-leg pants are far more comfortable and boast an elevated look. The fabric is super stretchy and comfortable so you can go straight from the long-haul flight to sightseeing in style and comfort. Best of all, the pants come in a variety of colors and sizes (including petite, tall, and plus options) so you can stock up on several pairs before your trip.

Price at time of publish: $120

Best Skirt

Quince Washable Silk Skirt


View On Onequince.com

The everyday clothing style in Japan is a bit more upscale than in the U.S. so bringing a silk midi skirt like this one from Quince is perfect for both day and night outfits. This mulberry silk midi skirt comes in nine colors including several muted neutral colors that can be dressed up or down. Plus, the skirt is machine-washable so you can give it a quick wash in between wears during your trip.

Price at time of publish: $60

Best Dress

Everlane The Daytripper Shirtdress


View On Everlane.com

Many women opt for flowy or slightly oversized clothing in Japan so this Everlane Shirtdress fits right in with the current trends. The asymmetric style has a high-low design so the back of the dress sits below the knee and the front part should rest just above the knee for a modest-yet-stylish look. It can also be paired with boots or tights on colder days, making it a versatile staple for most seasons in the country.

Price at time of publish: $110

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Best Rain Jacket

L.L. Bean Meridian Hooded Raincoat

L.L. Bean

View On NordstromView On L.L.Bean

It can rain in all of Japan’s regions, especially during the monsoon season in June and July, so you’ll want to pack a lightweight rain jacket just in case. This longer raincoat from L.L. Bean isn’t as sporty as traditional rain gear so it’s easy to pair it with your daily outfits. Made with waterproof TEK2.5 fabric, this jacket will keep you perfectly dry and it comes in several stunning colors like light green and a silvery white shade.

Price at time of publish: $160

Best Jacket

Abercrombie & Fitch Traveler Bomber Jacket

Abercrombie & Fitch

View On Abercrombie.com

It depends on which part of Japan you’re visiting (spoiler: every region is beautiful) and when but you can’t go wrong with a water- and wind-resistant jacket in the spring, summer, and fall like this sleek bomber from Abercrombie & Fitch. You may want a thicker jacket for winter but for most seasons, this bomber will keep you warm and protected without feeling restrictive.

Price at time of publish: $100

Clothing for Men

Similarly to planning outfits for women, men can keep it fairly simple as well by bringing several staple pieces to be mixed and matched. Generally, you’ll want to avoid any clothing that is tattered so investing in some nicer T-shirts, pants, and shorts is the best route to go. In terms of outerwear, you’ll want to pack a rain jacket and/or a windbreaker, and several overshirts or shackets to tie together an outfit when the weather conditions are wet or chilly.

Best Top

Cuts AO Curve-Hem Tee


View On Cutsclothing.com

Although this T-shirt from Cuts comes at a higher price point, it’s worth it for the high-quality materials that will hold up against multiple wears throughout the duration of a trip. The fabric is made with wrinkle-resistant materials so you can toss the shirt in your luggage while traveling throughout Japan and pull it out looking good as new. Plus, it comes in tons of earthy colors making it easy to pair the top with any bottoms. Trust us, you’ll want to buy several for your trip since they’ll last way longer than your typical cotton tees.

Price at time of publish: $54

The Best Travel Clothes for Men

Best Pants

Bonobos Original Stretched Washed Chinos


View On NordstromView On Bonobos.com

A pair of pants that are both comfortable and nice-looking can be hard to come across but these Bonobos chinos check all of the boxes. The cotton blend pants have a two-percent stretch so you can sit comfortably on a long-haul flight or walk up the 1,368 steps to get to the famous Kotohira-gu Shrine. With over 10 color options in sizes 28 to 54 (in slim, athletic, straight, tailored, slim taper, and skinny cuts), we love that the brand is size-inclusive to fit a wide range of body types.

Price at time of publish: $99

Best Shorts

VRST Men’s 7-inch Resort Short


View On Dick’sView On Vrst.com

If you’re traveling throughout Japan in the summer, you’ll likely run into both rain and high temperatures. These lightweight and quick-dry shorts from VRST could not be more perfect for any weather conditions thanks to the versatile fabric that can be worn in and out of water. The material has UPF 30 protection and it’s wrinkle-resistant so you won’t have to worry about crumpled clothing on the go.

Price at time of publish: $55

Best Rain Jacket

Vuori Palisades Rain Jacket


View On REIView On Vuoriclothing.com

Traveling to Japan in June or July? A rain jacket is a must-pack item for visiting during the wet season so this Vuori rain jacket will be a lifesaver. The recycled three-layer fabric is completely waterproof and the fit of the jacket is a slimmer athletic style so you don’t have to compromise style for functionality. It’ll match your chino pants or resort shorts and pairs nicely with a variety of shoes for even more versatility.

Price at time of publish: $248

Best Jacket

Everlane Organic Cotton Herringbone Utility Jacket


View On Everlane.com

For effortless style, this Everlane utility jacket is the perfect outer layer for completing an outfit. The lightweight cotton material and boxy shape are an ideal combination for a comfortable jacket that still looks sharp. It comes in green, white, and navy blue making it easy to pair with a T-shirt underneath in the summer or a sweater in the fall.

Price at time of publish: $148


Depending on the length and season of your trip, one or two pairs of shoes is all you need, especially for packing lightly. We recommend bringing one or two pairs of comfortable and waterproof walking shoes that are versatile enough to be worn with pants, shorts, skirts, or dresses. “You’ll be doing a lot of walking as well. Mushy, wet shoes are really uncomfortable so bringing anything waterproof will be very handy,” Onishi advises. Generally, you won’t see too many people in Japan wearing sandals unless it’s very warm out and flip-flops are frowned upon for entering shrines or temples.

Best Walking Shoes for Women and Men

Olukai Pehuea Lī ‘Ili Women’s Leather Sneakers



View On AmazonView On ZapposView On Nordstrom

It’s hard to beat the style and comfort built into these minimalist Olukai sneakers. The men’s style is nearly identical to the women’s pair with both boasting the brand’s signature drop-in heel feature so you can easily slip in and out of the shoes. This is ideal for going into temples and shrines or eating at restaurants where you’ll need to take off your shoes. Plus, the ultra-cushioned footbed is removable and washable so after a long day of sightseeing, you can toss the cushions into the wash to breathe extra life into the shoes during your trip as well as before and after.

Price at time of publish: $120

The 12 Best Travel Shoes With Arch Support of 2023Accessories

Since the goal is to pack lightly, we’re keeping the list of essential accessories to a minimum so you don’t bring too many unnecessary items. According to Onishi, it would be wise to bring your own compact umbrella, although you can always buy one in Japan if the weather takes a turn. “It does rain a lot,” he explains, especially in the summer and fall. “I personally bring a waterproof jacket plus an umbrella.” In addition to bringing accessories to combat the weather, we recommend packing a coin purse to hold your loose cash and coins to stay organized on the go and a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the bright sun.

Best Travel-size Umbrella

Goothdurs Automatic Mini Travel Umbrella


View On Amazon

Onishi recommends bringing a compact umbrella, along with a raincoat, to combat the inclement weather while traveling around Japan. “Usually typhoons start from around August to October so I guess throughout the whole summer until mid-autumn, it’s always nice to bring rain gear,” he said. This travel-size umbrella folds down to just 8.5 inches tall so it can easily fit in a backpack, purse, or pocket when needed.

Price at time of publish: $20

Best Coin Purse

Travelon RFID Blocking Clip Stash Pouch


View On AmazonView On Jcpenney.comView On Travelonbags.com

Having cash on hand while traveling throughout Japan is helpful even though a lot of places take cards. The Japanese currency, yen, uses paper cash as well as coins so you’ll want to have a coin pouch or small purse on hand to store all of your 100, 50, 10, 5, and 1-cent coins. This small pick comes with a carabiner clips to easily attach the pouch to your bag for convenient access.

Price at time of publish: $10

Best Travel Pillow

Cabeau The Neck’s Evolution S3 (TNE) Neck Pillow


View On AmazonView On Cabeau.com

While it depends on where you’re embarking from, it’s likely that you’ll be on a long-haul flight to get to Japan. If you’re flying from the West Coast, the flight is about nine hours and it’s about 14 from the East Coast so be sure to bring items to help you get some shut-eye on the longer flight. This ultra-plush neck pillow from Cabeau folds down into a compact carrying case and can be clipped to a backpack or placed inside without taking up too much space in a backpack.

Price at time of publish: $50

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Best Sunglasses

Costa Sullivan Sunglasses

Dick’s Sporting Goods

View On Basspro.comView On Costadelmar.comView On Dick’s

A pair of sunglasses is an essential accessory for both fashion and functional purposes. These Costa Sullivan sunglasses have a simple square shape that is versatile for anything from hiking to sightseeing. There are six frame colors to choose from with the option of gray or copper lenses so you can design your next favorite pair of polarized shades.

Price at time of publish: $262

Luggage and Bags

If you’re planning on traveling to other cities in Japan besides Tokyo, you’ll want to think carefully about the type of luggage you want to schlep around. The most portable piece of luggage you can use is a carry-on backpack that boasts the same capacity as a suitcase but offers the portability of a backpack. Of course, you can use a carry-on suitcase, but we recommend using a smaller one that is easier to maneuver. When it comes to smaller bags like purses, opt for a compact and smaller bag like a trendy fabric crescent bag that has a bit more style than a sporty fanny pack.

Best Carry-on Backpack

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack



View On AmazonView On REIView On Backcountry.com

For itineraries that include stops in cities outside of Tokyo like Kyoto or Osaka, the most portable piece of luggage is Cotopaxi’s Allpa 32L backpack. It’s our favorite carry-on backpack we’ve tested since it can fit the same amount as a typical suitcase but it can be tossed over the shoulders and carried as a backpack for superior portability. There are tons of pockets for staying organized and it has a clamshell-style opening so you can pack all of your essentials with ease.

Price at time of publish: $198

Best Carry-on Suitcase

Herschel Heritage Hardshell Carry On Luggage


View On NordstromView On Herschel.comView On Saks Fifth Avenue

Backpacks aren’t for everyone when it comes to traveling so if you’re looking for a compact suitcase, this one from Herschel is a great option. It’s small yet spacious with two main compartments to fit enough outfits for a two-week trip. Plus, its smaller size is ideal for flying on airlines with more restrictive carry-on dimension requirements such as WestJet or United.

Price at time of publish: $225

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Best Toiletry Bag

Calpak Mini Clear Cosmetics Case


View On AnthropologieView On Calpaktravel.comView On Shopbop.com

One of the best ways to pack lightly for Japan is by bringing as few toiletry items as possible. It’s customary for hotels and Airbnbs to have a large selection of toiletries like shampoo, toothbrushes, combs, and more readily available to guests. However, since you’ll likely still need to pack specific toiletries, this small, clear cosmetic case from Calpak makes it easy to see what you’ve packed thanks to the transparent material. It has a clamshell design so you can pack the case flat or folded up as well.

Price at time of publish: $75

Best Crossbody Purse

Iioscre Small Sling Crossbody Bag


View On Amazon

Crescent bags are wildly popular in both Japan and the U.S. right now and this under-the-radar Amazon bag is the perfect travel accessory for storing your wallet, passport, and other small items. It’s made with wrinkle-resistant nylon so it can be folded up and tucked away in a suitcase for long-haul flights without getting crumpled and the capacity is large enough to fit all of your travel essentials without feeling too bulky.

Price at time of publish: $15

Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is the weather like in Japan?

Japan has four distinct seasons and it’s important to pack according to season along with the basic essentials in our list above that you can bring no matter the time of year. In addition, Onishi explains “the weather is dependent on the location as well. So the northern island of Hokkaido, which is closer to Russia, [gets] cold and with the southernmost island, Okinawa, you’ll probably get that sort of Southeast Asia weather so it’s relatively warm.” The weather in any part of the country can change rapidly so you’ll want to bring a variety of outfits to be prepared for changing weather conditions. 

Packing layers and clothing that can be mixed and matched is the best way to be prepared for any weather while still packing lightly. “In spring or autumn, it can be cold, it can be warm so T-shirts, long sleeves, windbreakers are always nice. Thinner, down jackets come in handy as well,” Onishi shares. And, in the summer, the air conditioning inside can be very cold to combat the heat and humidity so Onishi recommends bringing a shawl or light jacket indoors since you may get cold.

What should I not bring to Japan?

Generally, there are no hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t wear in Japan but to be respectful of the culture, there are several clothing items you could leave out of your packing list. “Especially in the Western countries, people just wear leggings or yoga pants just out on the street [and] that’s not normal in Japan,” Onishi explains, noting that modesty is a prominent but evolving part of the fashion culture in the country. If you’re planning on visiting a traditional onsen (hot spring) you can leave your swimsuit at home since it’s customary to enter the water  nude. “So, kind of going back to my initial comment about packing lightly — I wouldn’t bring a swimsuit, unless you know that you’re going to a pool or to a beach,” Onishi says. In addition, you can leave behind outlet adapters if you’re coming from the U.S. since Japan uses the same Type A and B outlets.

What are some dos and don’ts for Japan?

When it comes to entering sacred spaces like temples or shrines, there are dress codes that are encouraged but not always heavily enforced. While it’s generally frowned upon to wear sandals, tank tops, or shorts, no one will likely say anything to you in more touristy areas like Kyoto and Tokyo, Onishi shares. If you’re planning on visiting an onsen, be sure to look up the policies on tattoos, as it’s very common for people with tattoos to not be allowed in a public onsen. Some will allow tattoos if they are covered with special bandages that you can find in pharmacies in Japan, or if the resort offers them, but it’s important to respect the rules. You may end up needing to reserve a private onsen if you have large tattoos that can’t be covered.

What currency is used in Japan?

The currency used in Japan is called yen which consists of both paper cash and coins. The bills are in the thousands and the most common coins you’ll use are 50 and 100 pieces but there are also one, five, and 10 coins, too. You can typically order yen ahead of time through most U.S. banks or use an ATM when you arrive, although you may encounter fees so it’s always smart to convert currency ahead of time.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L commerce writer Anna Popp writes the majority of the team’s tested articles and she participates in nearly every travel test. Anna spent nearly two weeks traveling throughout Japan in May 2023 and she chatted with Kenny Onishi, the general manager of Japan for Intrepid Travel DMC to get tips and tricks for packing for and visiting this destination.

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