The Ultimate Female Packing List for Japan (in summer)

Packing list for Japan in summer

The following packing list has been submitted by Emily Lessnau. See all packing list posts here.

Summer in Japan is a double edged sword. You get beautiful flowers, fantastic festivals and a lush green landscape with sweeping views from the frequent mountaintops. But you also get tsuyu (rainy season), high humidity combined with heat, and typhoon season. Each island of Japan offers its own drastic climate change and it’s own set of packing challenges for visitors.

>> Don’t forget to plan ahead and book your Japan accommodation before you go!

A few things to note when you begin to comprise your packing list for Japan:

Despite what you hear about the crazy fashion in Tokyo, Japan is a very modest nation. If you plan on visiting smaller towns or religious sites you need to cover up a bit. I have seen one set of exposed shoulders all summer and women often wear nylons or even leggings with shorts, skirts and dresses. They tend to wear looser, flowing tops and I have yet to see exposed cleavage or tummy (though I’ve seen some short-shorts, even without nylons twice)!

Japanese consider pale skin beautiful and will wear long pants, sleeves, hats and even gloves when it’s over 100F with 80% humidity. They even carry umbrellas. I literally live on the beach and it’s packed on weekends with steady traffic during the week and I have yet to see a single bikini- most women wear “bathing clothes” that look like leggings and thermal tops but I have seen some very modest one-piece suits.

You’ll want to pack quick drying fabrics. Between sweat and the rain your clothes will constantly be soaked. So be prepared to do some laundry (even if it’s in the sink). Seriously. This is the most important advice I can give you.

Accessories are key! Japanese wear uniforms for school and work. So to set themselves apart they invest in their handbags, shoes, and jewelry. You’ll be on foot a lot in Japan so shoes are tricky, you want to balance style with comfort! So bring a few essential fashion accessories and a killer pair of wedge heels (super popular in the summer) and you’ll fit right in!

packing list for japan in summer - summer view in japan

My Trip & Packing List:

For Obon I went to Hokkaido for the week and this list comprises what I took for nine days and eight nights in my carry on bag and LeSportSac Deluxe Every Day bag. Hokkaido is significantly cooler than Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku so I took more layering options. If you’re going to the southern three islands, I’d still take at least one long sleeved shirt and a pair of pants or leggings, but I have yet to wear either my whole summer in southern Japan.

Clothing:

1 Black Maxi Dress

1 Skirt

1 pair of Jeggings

1 pair of Black Leggings

1 pair of Shorts

3 Tank Tops (I wear as undershirts with low cut tops and/or button ups)

1 White Long Sleeve Button Up

3 V-neck Quick-Dry Tees

2 Blouses

1 Cardigan

1 pair of Pajama Pants

1 Pajama Tee

3 pairs of Socks

5 pairs of Underwear

2 Bras

1 Sports Bra

1 Swim Suit

1 pair of Dressy Sandals

1 pair of Chaco Flip Flops

1 pair of Sneakers

Accessories:

1 wrist watch (bring one, trust me- they’re essential for catching trains)

1 bracelet

1 necklace

1 pair of Stud Earrings

packing list for japan in summer - Electronics packed for Japan in summer

Electronics & Extras:

1 Point & Shoot Camera with extra battery, extra memory card

1 DSLR with battery charger, extra battery, extra memory card, extra lens

1 E-Reader

1 Tablet

1 small Notebook

2 Pens (for jotting down notes, customs forms, etc)

1 pashmina Scarf

1 pair of Sunglasses

1 pair of Glasses

1 Comb

1 pack of Tissues

2 Sweat Towels

1 Sensu (hand fan)

1 Umbrella

2 scoops of Powdered Laundry Detergent

packing list for japan in summer - Toiletries for summer in Japan

Cosmetics:

Mascara

Eyeliner

Travel size Moisturizer

Travel size Saline Solution with contact case and extra lenses

Travel size 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner

Travel size Face Wash

Travel size Toothpaste with dental floss, toothbrush and mouth wash

Lip Balm

Papaw Ointment

Travel size Sun Screen

packing list for japan in summer - Fans for the heat and humidity

Extra Tips

I did laundry once in the middle of the week. Laundromats are extremely easy to find in Japan and are relatively inexpensive. I washed and dried one large load for my husband and myself for $4.00. Don’t worry about packing enough for your whole trip… You’ll sweat through things and want to change frequently and the thought of ducking into a cool, shady laundromat for an hour or two will be very inviting after hours in the heat in humidity!

Most travelers visiting Japan stay within Honshu. Temperatures and humidity here are very high so if you’re packing for a trip to popular destinations like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima, change up your packing list to include lighter, looser clothing. Just don’t interpret this as wearing less!

If you forget to pack an item or want to save space, Japanese convenient stores are very easy to find and carry a small variety of everything on the planet one might need! Large train stations and airports are often attached to huge shopping centers so you can pick things up right as you start your journey!

>> Check out our packing for Japan in winter post.

emily lessnauAbout the Author: Emily is an American expat living in southern Japan with her husband and cat. When not tutoring English or taking day trips to Kyoto, Emily spends her time planning upcoming travels and crafting. You can find her at www.nekoinnippon.com and follow Neko in Nippon on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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A fun and easy cycling tour around the Japanese countryside! This is a great tour for seeing the famous Snow Monkeys.

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How to Pack for Japan in Summer

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Kathryn says

    I don’t think that the Japanese are more modest, just that their idea of modesty is different. You’ll see girls in Tokyo especially that wear the skimpiest skirts and shorts but still have a neckline up to their neck (in some cases, their hemline is almost up to their neck too!)

    Skimpy bikinis do seem to be okay for party beaches.

    In summer I carried a lightweight scarf in my handbag. Often, if you are going to a bar or club, you can get away with lower cut tops put if you wear something like that on the trains, you will attract weirdos and who wants to deal with that?

    The scarf is probably a good option if you are on a short term holiday and don’t want to invest in new summer clothes just to suit the culture. And definitely something to cover the upper arms and shoulders.

  2. Fairlie says

    I’ve just returned from two weeks in Japan in summer…and this list is pretty much exactly what I took and used! I wore a knee-length denim skirt with a variety of t-shirts and tops and a pair of canvas plimsoles for many of the days. Like Kathryn said, I noticed lot of younger Japanese women (late teens, twenties) wearing really short shorts on the weekend, but when I looked closely, they were all wearing flesh-coloured tights underneath the shorts. The same with skirts,

    • Sonia says

      From what I understand, Japanese women tend not to show their shoulders. I don’t think it’s massively indecent though, so you could probably get away with it if you have a halter/tank dress/shirt that you really love and want to wear. Another option would be to get a shawl or light cardigan to throw on if you end up feeling self-conscious.

  3. lucy says

    Thanks for this. I live in Japan and I’m going to Hokkaido for nine days, 8 nights over Obon too 😉

    Only thing I’d add is to make sure the vests are cooltech or sweat wicking and bring a hat (or at least make the umbrella one that can double as a parasol)

    Where’s the contact lens case from? Very kawaii

  4. Brandy says

    I am in the middle of my trip to Japan. We are staying in metropolitan areas where there is a massive amount of walking and you get everywhere by train, bus or taxi. The things I’ve learned already are:
    I wish I would have packed half as many clothes and just done a load of wash half way through the trip. Next time I will pack much less clothing.
    Gel insoles for my shoes would be a god send right now and I can’t find them anywhere here in Japan so far. Also, I don’t care how skinny you are, anti-chafing gel or powder for your inner thighs is a must if you will be wearing dresses or skirts without leggings. Trust me on this one. I should have left behind half of the toiletries I packed in with me. She’s right about Japan having all the basics you’ll need in their plentiful convenience stores, and at reasonable pricing.

  5. Zoe Zhang says

    Thanks for the excellent tips!! Definitely super useful, even for a last-minute packer like myself. These are all very relevant and insightful suggestions for summer in Japan.

  6. Jozie .L says

    Thank you for the tips because when i am 18 i am going to go to japan with my friends when they are 17 year old’s. So thank you for the tip i really like these tips.

  7. Idgy says

    We are in Tokyo right now. With the heat and humidity, I am living in two light weight quick drying dresses. I use a scarf or light cotton cardigan to cover up. I have found a hat to be too hot. Carrying an umbrella/parasol is a must for my fair skin. While I have 28 l bag I could have packed smaller and left short sleeve shirts and pants behind. Staying in Airbnb with laundry makes life easier.

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