Pack with confidence and avoid baggage fees - clothing tips and packing checklists for your vacation

What to Wear in Japan

Tokyo in April

Tokyo in April

Shibuya Station Intersection, Tokyo

Shibuya Station Intersection, Tokyo

General Packing Tips

  • The Japanese dress as Westerners do and are quite conservative on the whole, but the youngsters are very daring and you'll see some mad outfits in Tokyo.
  • Shorts are fine, jeans, even strappy undershirts etc.
  • Jeans are not generally popular with men or women beyond their 20's, so for jean lovers we suggest packing black jeans as an alternative to blue denim.
  • The biggest thing to remember for Japan is to make sure your clothes are not tatty looking.
  • As the Japanese are very petite, finding clothes to fit in the popular stores can be difficult - so take everything you will need with you.
  • Holes in socks are a big no-no, because you spend lots of time without shoes on - visiting temples, shrines and traditional restaurants etc.
  • Pack comfortable shoes for walking that can be slipped off easily when visiting religious sites or traditional restaurants. We can't emphasise enough the need for really comfortable well broken in walking shoes (try Hotter shoes, we love their styles and they are just so comfy).
  • And take a comfy shoulder bag or day sack to carry your sightseeing essentials.
  • Dress in layers because the indoor temperature will be very much warmer than outside - a sweater, wrap or  pashmina shawl works well as it's easy to slip around you if you feel cold.
  • Note that some common medical nasal sprays, which are fine elsewhere, are illegal in Japan. Check your brand if you need one.
  • Surprisingly, Tokyo doesn't have free WiFi in cafes or malls etc, so you may want to take a portable card with you.
  • Aside from the younger generation in Tokyo, few people speak English - however everyone is extremely helpful if you look lost or confused. Add a translation app to your smartphone before you go, and learning just a few simple words of Japanese (hello, thank you etc) will be hugely appreciated.
  • Japanese etiquette is a minefield, although they are tolerant and forgiving of tourists. Carry business cards, if you have them, and hand them (with both hands) to everyone you meet; be overtly admiring of the ones you are given.
  • Japan is famous for its futuristic toilets, with an array of remote controls that dispense jets of water and blasts of hot air. Public loos are always spotlessly clean and there will be hand-washing facilities, however towels or hand-driers are rarely provided - so carry some tissues or a microfiber travel towel with you. Also note you'll need to remove your shoes and put on plastic 'bathroom slippers' which are provided outside the door.
  • Communal bathing in hot springs (onsens) is a traditional pastime. But apart from in a few mixed-gender baths, you won't need a swimsuit as they are explicitly forbidden (for hygiene reasons).
  • In Japan tattoos are associated with the mafia, and are banned in many places - even a tiny mark may mean you are refused entry. So if you have any, keep them covered with clothing, plasters or special concealer products.

Clothing Tips for Women

  • Women here favor high heels, however with all the walking we would recommend saving yours for an evening out rather than a day sightseeing. We love the Lindsay Phillips Switch Flops range - using interchangeable shoe and flip-flop bases with snap-on decorations, you can change your look from day to evening in an instant whilst still packing light.
  • You don't need dresses or skirts unless they are more comfortable in them.
  • If you are traveling to Japan on business then a formal, conservative trouser or knee-length skirt suit worn with tights in dark colors works well, but do avoid an all-black look - this is associated with funerals. Also avoid revealing or sleeveless blouses.
  • Japanese women generally do not wear nail varnish.

Clothing Tips for Men

  • Men don't need a jacket or tie unless that is how they dress at home.
  • For men on business pack dark colored suits with a blue or white shirt. Other colors are worn, but blue and white are considered the most acceptable. Avoid wearing a black tie as it is associated with funerals. It's also advisable for men to be clean shaven - stubble is generally frowned upon.

Pack for the Weather

  • If traveling in the winter (December, January and February) take an overcoat, gloves, warm scarf and ear muffs. You won't see many Japanese wearing ear muffs but you'll be glad you packed them.
  • Spring (March, April and May) is a great time to be in Japan but the weather can be variable so for March/April we would suggest packing gloves, scarf and a waterproof jacket. Buy an umbrella when you get there.
  • Summer (June, July, August) gets very hot and humid, so lightweight natural fabrics such as linen will work best. Make sure you wear sunscreen (we love the Riemann P20 range for 10 hour protection), a sunhat (or carry an umbrella), and take plenty of water with you when sightseeing.
  • It's worth knowing that it rains more in June, so a lightweight raincoat would be worth packing (but save space in your case and buy an umbrella when you get there – there is plenty of choice).

Regions of Japan

  • In Tokyo, black and grey are very popular but outside the capital you will see a far greater choice of colors being worn.
  • If your itinerary includes Kyoto you'll find a more colorful feel to dress than there is in Tokyo - perhaps because it is a popular tourist destination and people are dressed for vacations rather than work.
  • Trips to climb Mount Fuji are available, but the full ascent can take 6-11 hours so you do need to be fit. Make sure you have sturdy footwear and carry a light day sack with drinks, snacks and warm layers. Climbing overnight is popular, so you can see the sun rise from the top.
  • Do pack swimwear (opt for a one-piece rather than a bikini) if you're heading for the pacific island resorts where the beaches rival those of the Caribbean.

Last updated 24 February 2015.

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Pack Light

  • Less luggage to carry
  • Save time packing and unpacking
  • Save money on baggage fees

Pack Right

  • Respect local cultures
  • Feel comfortable and confident
  • Suitable outfits for all occasions

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Healthy Back Bag

Healthy Back Bag

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Advice You Can Trust

Japanese dress very chic, so tourists need to dress smart, if they don't want to look dull. Your outfits do not have to be new, just well pressed, well coordinated and confidently presented. Also having a portable WiFi card is a MUST. In spite of being one of the most sophisticated cities on earth, Tokyo does NOT have free WiFi in most obvious places like cafes or malls.

- Radhika, India