What to Pack for Japan: The Essential List

Japan is an incredibly interesting country with a rich history and culture. It is famous for its busy cities, economic prowess, breathtaking scenery, delicious cuisine and technological innovations. For centuries Japan was a closed country, which may explain our fascination with this intriguing country and learning more about it. If you are planning a vacation to the Land of the Rising Sun, you are in for a treat. However, if you need a little help with preparing for your trip, we have you covered, as we’ve put together a handy guide covering what to pack for Japan: the essential list.

What to Pack for Japan: The Essential List


In Japan, you do not wear outdoor shoes inside as it is considered rude and unclean. In Japanese culture, the outside is considered dirty, and the inside is clean. It is therefore important not to transfer the outside inside. Upon entering someone’s home in Japan, you should remove your shoes and leave them on a little porch. This area acts as a space between the outer and inner worlds. With this in mind, we recommend packing a pair of shoes that are easy to put on and slip off. It’s not just in people’s homes where you remove your shoes. Many places in Japan – including ryokans (traditional inns), temples, and some izakayas and restaurants – also require you to remove your shoes.

In some cases, it’s also considered somewhat impolite to be barefoot, so make sure you bring a pair of clean socks with you.

We also suggest packing a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Tokyo is a surprisingly walkable city, and many places, including Kyoto, are best explored on foot.


Fashion standards in Japan are quite high. The street style is uber cool. However, you don’t have to be as achingly hip as the Japanese, but it does pay to be neat and tidy, as the Japanese tend to care about appearance. However, the overall feel of daywear in Japan is casual with an element of flair. So jeans, jumpers, t-shirts and sneakers are all fine. However, it is best to dress smart if you are doing business.

Evening Wear

For special occasions, e.g. a party or special dinner, dress accordingly. However, formal attire is usually not required outside of formal or business situations. Men do not require jackets and ties at most fancy Japanese restaurants. However, dressing respectfully is always required. Some formal western-style restaurants may require jackets for men – check with the restaurant beforehand – but most high-end restaurants ask that you do not wear baseball caps, flip flops, shorts, etc.

Plug Adaptors and Power Converters

Japan operates on a 100V supply voltage and 50/60Hz. There are two types of plugs in Japan. Type A has two flat parallel pins, while Type B has two flat parallel pins and a rounded ground pin. Type A and B plugs are mostly used in the USA, Canada, Central America, and China. Depending on where your appliances are from, you may need travel plug adaptors. You’ll also need a travel power converter if your electrical items are not dual voltage.

Japan reading material

Get a feel for the country with a good book set in Japan or one that covers the history and culture. For non-fiction fans, pack Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Mark J. Ravina. Fiction lovers should pick up a copy of Some Prefer Nettles by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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