Who else is rusty when it comes to traveling, particularly packing for traveling? I have never been an expert at packing – even before the whole pandemic. Who’s with me? 

As we prepare for the world to open up again and book our flights to Japan, we also need to prepare ourselves for the tedious bits that come with travelling. One of them is packing. Packing for Japan can differ from packing for other countries as it does depend, to an extent, on the convenience of the country and the things you do when you’re there. There are other things to keep in mind such as packing the right clothes for the season. 

In this article, we shortlist 3 things you need to take note of when packing for your Japan trip! 

1. Travel Light

The first thing you need to take note of is to travel light. I don’t know about you but I have a tough time travelling light. I’m a big fashion gal, and if you’re planning to travel to Tokyo, one of the most fashionable cities, you want to fit in, right? Don’t be tempted and keep the number of clothings in your suitcase to a minimum. 

If you’re travelling to Japan in summer, it’s easier to cut down clothes because it does get really warm in Japan. You’re better off with dresses and cotton t-shirts your whole trip. 

When travelling to Japan in the colder months, I personally advise to travel as light as possible and leave the heavy sweaters and coats behind. Opt for lighter and thinner, yet still warm, fabrics like pashmina and cashmere. There are also jackets where they have 3-in-1 function – it can be a waterproof jacket as well as one that keeps you warmer with detachable fleece lining. Those kinds of designs are perfect for travelling!

This not only cuts down your baggage allowance but also gives you extra space for shopping! And trust me, you’ll shop quite a bit in Japan.

2. Travel Hands-Free

The next thing to note is that you’d want to travel hands-free as much as possible. This means you don’t want to be lugging around your suitcase when you arrive, and want to make the most of the time you have in the country. The first thing you can do is book a flight that lands at an appropriate time and allows you to check into your hotel directly. Alternatively, you can book a hotel that lets you check in early. 

However, if you do find yourself having a few hours to spare in between landing and checking in, don’t panic. You don’t have to go around with your luggage. 

You can arrange at the airport for your luggage to be sent directly to the hotel on the same day. The luggage forwarding service is called TA-Q-BIN by the locals. You can spot it by the red sign “Hand Free Travel”. It costs about ¥1,000 to ¥3,000 depending on the size and weight of your luggage.

Another thing you can do is store your luggage in coin lockers that are literally everywhere in the country. Major cities like Tokyo and Osaka have them at almost every train station. Depending on the size of the locker, it can cost ¥300 to ¥800 for a whole day to store your luggage.

There are also companies that store your luggage for you and can be as low as ¥500 a day. One of them is called the Voyagin Office, located in Shibuya.

And if you’re really tight on budget, just drop off your luggage at the hotel reception. Most of the time, they allow you to store it there until your check in time. If you’re staying at an Airbnb or someplace similar, then there’s a chance you’re not able to do that. 

3. Have A Travel Document Checklist

I believe the best thing to do for any trip is to have a travel checklist. This is basically what you need to prepare in advance before your trip.

A valid passport and visa: you can’t travel anywhere without a passport. To travel into Japan, your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months. Make sure there are a couple of blank pages in it as well. If your country requires a visa to get into Japan, and you are not eligible to get a visa at the time of landing, be sure to apply for that in advance. 

Travel insurance: I personally swear by travel insurance, and with this current pandemic, it’s even more crucial. Do research on the insurance companies, and look out for those offering COVID-19 coverage on top of the general coverage of lost baggage, injury, medical attention while travelling, cancellation and more. It might be a requirement to have COVID-19 coverage for travel.

Flight tickets: If you haven’t booked your flights before packing for the trip, I suggest booking them now! The earlier you purchase them, the better. Read carefully about the cancellation and amendments policy, in case you need to change your dates or cancel the trip. Have a copy of the confirmation on your phone for when you go to the airport.

Accommodation reservation: Do a bit of research as to where you’re going to stay in Japan. There are a few different types of accommodation offered, like hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast, and Airbnbs. Consider the location, price and accessibility when looking for an accommodation. If you have a lot of suitcases with you, check that the building has an elevator. Since buildings in Japan can be old, this might not be a common thing to have with accommodation types other than hotels.

Transport reservation: Have you looked into how you’re going to get to your accommodation from the airport? Research that so you don’t have any mishaps when you arrive. Public transport is very convenient in Japan, so you can definitely consider that. Buses directly to city centres are the most convenient in my opinion. 

However, airport to hotel transport is also something to look into. This service, as well as taxis, can get quite expensive.

Travel SIM or Portable WiFi: Sometimes we take our convenience of accessibility and forget about these things when travelling. While WiFi is widely available in major cities in Japan, it’s not as reliable and can often be slow. Rural Japan won’t have this same level of access to WiFi.

Think about whether you want to get a portable WiFi and share with your family and friends or to just get a travel SIM card. Either way, reserve or purchase them beforehand so you can get connected right away when you arrive in Japan. Buying them at the airport is costly as compared to buying in advance.

Downloading any appropriate apps: If you’re travelling to big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, chances are you’re going to be fine without knowing any Japanese. If you’re planning to travel to other parts of the country, you might find yourself struggling a bit. I suggest downloading  all the necessary apps like Google Translate or dictionary apps like Imiwa. These apps are sure to ease your journey so much more. 

Other apps to download include taxi apps like JapanTaxi. Uber is not widely used in Japan so if you want to use this kind of service, you have to use apps like JapanTaxi.

Transport card: Do a bit of research as to how you are going to get around in Japan. The transport cards in Japan are IC Cards like Suica and Icoca. You can use them on trains and buses, as well as pay for stuff at convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants.

Alternatively, you can also purchase the JR Pass. Depending on how long you’re travelling in Japan and where you plan to go, you might want to get the JR Pass. This will cut you a lot of costs, especially if you’re travelling to more than one city.

International driver’s permit: Prepare your international driver’s permit if you think you want to rent a car or go go-karting in Japan. Be sure to apply in advance in your home country before flying so you have time to receive it before your trip.

Have Fun Packing!

If you have the bases covered with these three tips, you’re good to go packing for your Japan trip! Check out our other article on what to pack for your Japan trip if you’re stuck with it!