Your Instagram feed might be filled with all the cool things to do in Japan, that your itinerary is crammed with activities to make the most of your upcoming trip. However, you might have yet to think about the essentials to bring, so here is a guide to make your travels even more convenient.
What to pack for Japan
The first would be shoes because Japan is a country where you will be walking a lot, whether it’s to the nearest station or getting to your destination. Skip those heels if your plan for the day is to explore because aching feet can get in the way of your enjoyment. If you didn’t bring any comfy rubber shoes, not to worry, there are many shoe stores in Japan that sell walking shoes for as little as ¥2,000. One of the best stores to check is ABC Mart for such shoes.
Various payment methods
Japan is slowly transitioning from a country where “cash is king” to more payment methods such as credit cards or mobile “cashless” payments. If you purchased a Suica or Pasmo transit card, you could treat that as another way to pay.
Many convenience stores, vending machines, restaurants, taxi or rental cars, supermarkets, and shopping centers accept these IC cards (just look for their logos at the cashier), so you can simply top up at a station and use it as a primary way to pay. What’s more, these cards can be linked to an Apple Wallet so that you can recharge with your linked credit card for added convenience.
Pocket Wi-Fi or a sim card
We’ve got comfort and payment methods done. Next up is connectivity. Although you can get an internet connection at most train stations in the country, it is still advisable to have data for accessing Google Maps or translating items into Japanese. Getting your hands on a sim card or pocket Wi-Fi is relatively easy in Japan. There are many booths at the airport, so you can stay connected the second you land in the country. You can also plan in advance and subscribe to an Internet service provider online. Here’s a guide on the best pocket Wi-Fi in Japan.
Since you are in a foreign country with limited English-speaking locals, it’s advised to be prepared with translation tools. The first is the Google translate app, DeepL, or VoiceTra. Google Translate has a nifty camera mode feature, so you can use direct your phone to restaurant menus and the like for instant translation. DeepL and VoiceTra, on the other hand, give you a more accurate translation.
Another useful app is Google Maps or Japan Navitime for getting around. Meanwhile, ride-hailing apps like JapanTaxi or S. Ride for Tokyo are helpful in booking a ride when you’re not at a transport station.
The right clothes
Depending on the season you’re visiting Japan, it is also recommended to do some research in advance and pack the right outfits. For example, summers in Japan are brutal, so it’s best to stick to thin fabrics and stock up on sunscreen. Meanwhile, late autumn and winter in Japan can get very cold, with occasional snow, even in the Kanto region, so save some luggage space for your thick coats and boots.
Japan Rail Pass
In line with transportation, consider getting a Japan Rail (JR) Pass if your itinerary covers a wider area of Japan. This is different from the Suica or Pasmo cards mentioned earlier and can provide you with extra savings and convenience. You can access the following guide for more details on the JR Pass, whether or not it’s worth it for your itinerary.
Other items that you might consider bringing if you have the luggage space and want to avoid extra purchases in the country are a portable water bottle (so you don’t need to buy at vending machines), adapters and converters for Japan’s 110V outlets (if needed), a travel-sized umbrella for rainy days, and other necessities like toiletries and medications.
On the other hand, you might want to skip packing some of these items and just purchase disposable ones to give you space for souvenirs since the country is big on sharing its culture with the world, whether it’s food, trinkets, decorations, matcha, traditional craft items, and more.
Now that you’ve got the essentials checked off the list, you’re ready for a stress-free vacation in Japan!