The following Japan packing list was submitted by Ashley of AshleyAbroad.com. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using them, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps to keep this site running – thank you!
Cherry blossoms. Spring festivals. Flower-filled parks. Japan is a wonderful place to visit in any season, but is especially alluring in spring when everything’s in bloom.
There’s only one problem — Packing for Japan in the spring can be tricky: Japan is very humid, temperatures vary from north to south, and it rains a lot. And as I learned on my trip this May, spring in Japan can also get surprisingly hot.
All that said, it is possible to pack well for spring in Japan; you just have to layer, bring rain gear, and pack the appropriate footwear.
Here’s what I recommend packing for Japan if you’re visiting in spring.
What do I pack for my Japan vacation?
When packing for any trip to Japan, it’s good to reference HPL’s other packing lists for the same destination, even in various seasons. There are little nuggets of packing advice that may be useful for your specific trip.
Also, given that weather can be so variable at any time of the year, researching neighboring season lists is just plain smart.
Clothes: What to Wear in Japan in Spring
Layers are key for spring weather in Japan. In case of cold or rainy days, I recommend bringing a lightweight fleece or hoodie, which you can layer under a rain jacket if necessary.
I also recommend packing some of your most stylish clothes, especially if you plan to visit Tokyo. Women in Tokyo are very creative with fashion, so don’t be afraid to wear a red lip or a fun hair accessory.
Finally, I recommend dressing somewhat modestly for Japan. My sister and I got a lot of disapproving stares if we wore short dresses or skirts.
- 2 black t-shirts – they go with everything. I like the cotton ones from Everlane.
- 1 nice blouse – I brought a floral printed blouse that looked good with jeans.
- 1 skirt – I brought a fun, knee-length leopard-printed skirt.
- 1 dress – I recommend bringing a dress (or something dressier) if you’re planning on going to a nice restaurant.
- 1 hoodie – for cold days and flying.
- 1 jean jacket
- 1 lightweight rain jacket – If it gets cold, you can layer your hoodie under the rain jacket.
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of black jeans – versatile, and can be dressed up or down.
- 2 bras – one nude and one black.
- 5 pairs of underwear – For travel, I love ExOfficio underwear because you can wash it in the sink if necessary, and it dries super-fast.
- 5 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of leggings – for flying or travel days.
- 1 pair of pajamas – Pajamas are a nice luxury to have after a long travel day.
Shoes: Best Footwear for Japan in Spring
- Black sandals – I wore these sandals most days of the trip.
- Closed-toed walking shoes – You’ll most likely walking a lot, so don’t forget a pair of comfortable tennis shoes. I brought Stan Smiths.
- Rain boots – I advise bringing rain boots in case of rain. I love these short ones from Sam Edelman – they’re stylish, compact, and easy to pack.
- Flip flops – if you’re staying in a hostel, you may want to pack flip flops to use in the showers.
Toiletries: Pack Less & Buy There
Don’t overpack your toiletries – you can always buy more once you arrive. Plus, Japan has lots of amazing skincare and makeup products – leave some room in your suitcase to bring a few souvenirs home.
- Shampoo/conditioner/body wash – You can fill these eco-friendly, refillable Go-Toobs with your preferred shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
- Travel-size face wash
- Neutrogena face wipes – so handy for makeup-removal and long travel days.
- Moisturizer – I love this rose one by Dr. Hauschka. Plus, it’s one ounce, so you can carry it on.
- Travel-size dry shampoo – Dry shampoo is a must for me. As I have dark hair, I love the “Divine Dark” shade by Batiste.
- Prescriptions/birth control
- Lip balm
- Brush – I like the Wet Brush for untangling hair.
- Travel-size detangling spray
- Feminine hygiene products/DivaCup
- Hair ties
- Toiletry case
- Makeup case
- Curling iron (optional) – I brought mine
- Makeup (optional) – I brought a pared-down version of my normal makeup, as well as a red lip pencil. This one’s my favorite!
- iPhone – I recommend downloading the Google Translate app (so helpful for reading Japanese) as well as an offline map app such as Maps.Me
- Chargers – to charge my iPhone, Kindle, and camera
- Adapter – you can either by a universal adapter plug or a Japan-specific adapter plug.
- 1 pair headphones
- Camera (optional) – I brought my lightweight mirrorless camera – a Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with a 35mm lens.
- Portable battery (optional) – in case your phone dies.
- Kindle (optional) – I was very glad to have my Kindle on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Miscellaneous Travel Gadgets
- 1 backpack – Perfect for toting around your valuables on travel days.
- Water bottle – The tap water in Japan is drinkable, so I recommend bringing a reusable water bottle. It can get hot in Japan, even in May, so it’s important to stay hydrated.
- Eye mask and ear plugs – so essential!
- 1 small crossbody purse – I love the Mini Saddle Bag by Cuyana. This exact bag is no longer available but the Travelon Anti-Theft Addison Convertible Belt Bag is a great alternative.
- Costume jewelry – I wouldn’t recommend bringing valuable jewelry, but I enjoyed having a pair of gold earrings and a coin necklace to spruce up my outfits.
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 travel-sized umbrella (optional) – can be handy!
The Weather in Japan in Spring
Because Japan is such a long country made up of islands that are spread over several climates, the weather varies greatly from North to South.
The averages below are for Tokyo, on Honshu Island (the largest of Japan’s four main islands). However, the more northern and mountainous areas may be a bit cooler and it may be warmer in the more southern areas.
As with most countries, this transition season starts a lot cooler and warms up the closer you get to summer in April.
March: You can expect mild days in March at an average of 57°F (14°C). Mornings and evenings are still quite cold at around 41°F (5°C). On an average day, there’s about a 33% chance of rain and over 11 hours of sunlight.
April: Days start to warm up slightly in April to 66°F (19°C) on average. Evenings also warm up slightly but remain cold at 50°F (10°C). There’s a slight increase in the chance of rain with a 35% chance of rain per day. Sunlight hours also increase to 13 hours of sunlight per day.
May: The closer you get to summer the warmer the days get to around 75°F (24°C). The evenings and mornings become more mild at 59°F (15°C). Similarly to March, there is on average a 33% chance of rain each day. Get outside and enjoy the 14 hours of sunlight each day.
Before your trip, we recommend researching the weather for the exact areas you plan on visiting in Japan as the weather can vary so much across the different islands. That way you can plan the perfect packing list for Japan in spring.
Must-Sees in Japan in Spring
While there are things you should see year-round when you visit Japan, there are some things that are unique to the springtime and it would be a shame to miss them if you’re in the area.
Seeing the cherry blossom trees is the most obvious spring activity and many people visit Japan during this time specifically to see the landscapes transformed by the millions of pink and white flowers.
The first blooms begin in late March in the south and gradually extend northwards into April. During this time you’ll see many of the locals gathering at parks for picnics to enjoy the sight.
While there are national parks you can visit specifically to see the cherry blossoms, no matter where in Japan you decide to visit, even in the urban areas, you are sure to see the cherry blossom trees blooming.
Mount Fuji Flower Festival
Cherry blossoms aren’t the only flowers to see during spring in Japan. At the base of Mount Fuji, thousands of flowers erupt creating a landscape of pink, white, red, and purple. These flowers are shibazakura, also known as pink moss.
The festival, known as the Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri, takes place at the Fuji Motosuko Resort from mid-April to the end of May. Festival stalls sell pots of pink moss, shibazakura-themed souvenirs, food, and local produce.
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a spectacular journey through the Northern Japan Alps via cable cars, electric buses, and a ropeway. While the route is open from mid-April to November, the majestic snow corridor is only open from mid-April to the end of June. A section of the snow corridor is open to pedestrians and snow walls can reach up to 20m high.
Green Tea Plantations
Green tea is one of Japan’s most important agricultural exports and is woven into Japanese culture. When traveling in Japan, you are very likely to receive free green tea at restaurants to have alongside your meal. You can find out exactly how this tea is farmed by visiting a green tea plantation or taking a Japanese tea tour. You can also do homestays on some of the plantations and experience firsthand the daily farm activities. The best time to go is in May for the annual green tea harvest.
Wisteria Tunnel at Kawachi Wisteria Garden
If you’re visiting Japan in the spring for the blooming flowers, then you don’t want to miss the wisteria tunnel at the Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Northern Kyushu.
This private garden which is famous for its spectacular displays of wisteria flowers is opened to the public during the wisteria season which usually peaks around late April to early May. Not only are there two 100m long tunnels made of wisteria trees of different varieties and colors but there is also a collection of large wisteria trees that form an enormous roof of beautiful flowers.
Do you think there are any essentials we have left off this packing list for Japan in Spring? Let us know in the comments below.
Book a Viator Tour for Your Trip to Japan in Spring
Eat your way around Osaka on this foodie tour, where your local guide will take you to five hidden eateries where you will be trying ten different dishes.
Experience both modern and ancient Tokyo at attractions like the Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace, and more.
About the author: Since college, Ashley Fleckenstein has backpacked 45+ countries and lived abroad in Paris, Argentina, and Uganda. She started her travel blog, AshleyAbroad.com, in 2012, while working as an au pair in Paris. She has been featured in BuzzFeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and more. When she’s not working as a UX designer or blogging, she can be found reading, hiking, or recreating French baked goods in her kitchen.
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