Being one of the most developed countries in the world, Japan offers a much more clean and comfortable place to travel compared to other countries in Asia. But in the winter, Japan can get really cold, especially if you’re traveling close to the water in the north. You’ll want to pack plenty of warm items, but make sure you can layer well, as the Japanese like to keep it really warm inside. Take about a week’s worth of clothes and plan ahead for when you’ll do washes.
2 bras – One skin-color and one colored bra worked well for me.
5-7 pairs of underwear – This depends on how frequently you’ll be washing your clothes, and whether you’ll be washing them by hand or with the rest of your clothes.
>> See all of our undergarments posts.
2 pairs of Jeans – Take durable pairs that are comfortable and stylish for traveling, city excursions and hiking.
>> Check out the debate about the best travel pants for women.
1 large scarf – Make sure it covers your head well. Some temples require it as a sign of respect, but it will also keep you warm.
2 light jackets/sweatshirts – If the weather isn’t too cold, this could be your outer layer. For greater packing efficiency, try packing two items that can be layered with each other.
1 heavy jacket – Snow and high winds from the ocean are no joke in a Japanese winter.
7 shirts – Pack a variety of shirts: short and long-sleeved, with different styles and different weights. This will be your base layer.
1-2 dressy outfits – Take something cute for going out on the weekends. If you want to wait until you get there to shop for clothes, the Japanese are very stylish.
5-7 pairs of socks – Try to get socks made for freezing temperatures, especially if you’ll be outside a lot.
>> See also our packing list for staying warm when traveling.
1 pair flip flops – To protect your feet against grimy shower floors.
1 pair tennis shoes or hiking boots – Take a pair of shoes that will keep your feet dry and warm. Make sure they’re comfortable enough to endure hours of walking through cities or mountains.
1 pair flats – Take a cute pair of shoes for going out at night.
2-in-1 Shampoo/Conditioner – Make sure it’s under 3.4 ounces (or 100ml) if it goes into your carry on.
Bar of Soap – Put it in a plastic container so you won’t have to worry about a mess.
Toothbrush and toothpaste – Get something to cover the head of your toothbrush.
Deodorant – You don’t want to stink.
Razor – And shaving cream if you’re not comfortable using soap as a lather.
Diva Cup – So you don’t have to deal with going into a drug store trying to decipher Japanese writing on tampon boxes every month.
Medicines – Take an emergency stash of things to treat stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, colds, and headaches. Buying things from the local pharmacy is a guessing game you don’t want to play because almost nothing is in English. (See our medical kit packing list.)
Birth Control – Just in case.
Towel – To dry yourself off after a shower.
Instead of a sarong or a travel towel, the Turkish towel can be a more effective item on your packing list. Absorbent, lightweight, and versatile.
Camera – Take as many pictures of the land of the rising sun as possible.
MP3 Player or iPod – To zone out on long bus or train rides.
Chargers & Adapters – Make sure your valuable electronics always have juice.
E-reader – To entertain yourself when traveling between cities or during your down time.
Laptop – Use hotel or cafe wi-fi to check your email, upload travel pictures, or talk to friends and family back home on Skype.
Visa – If you go for 90 days or less as a tourist, you don’t need it. If you’re going for another purpose, get all the paperwork straightened out before you get on the plane.
Editor’s note: Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most countries in Europe, plus several others do not need tourist visas for 90 days or less. Check with the embassy to verify if you need a visa.
Earplugs – For peace and quiet on the plane.
Japanese phrase book – English is not as widely spoken in Japan as other countries. Make sure you can communicate your basic needs and know how to get travel information. (See also language tools for female travelers.)
P.S. Check out the ultimate female packing list for Japan in summer.
About the author: Chelsea Baldwin is a professional freelance writer who is constantly looking forward to her next plane trip to a new, exotic land. Although she’s been to a handful of countries, she’s never traveled for pure tourism. Instead, she’s traveled for work, internship opportunities, or volunteer community development work. Connect with her via her travel blog, Twitter, or her website, CarolinaFreelanceWriter.com.
Book a Viator Tour Before You Go
Spend a night at Kinnotake Tonosawa, a ryokan founded on the concept of “a release from the everyday.” Kinnotake Tonosawais a modern ryokan situated in Hakone and is popular with travelers, both local and from abroad. Each room in the ryokan features an open-air rotenburo onsen (out door hot spring). In addition, at the entrance to the ryokan is a large suspension bridge and the ryokan comes into view only after one has crossed the bridge.
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