The Ultimate Packing List For Japan
Thinking of studying abroad in Japan for a semester or a year? Awesome! I can remember the excitement I felt when I got an email saying I got accepted to study abroad in Japan for year. Let the preparations begin!
I did a lot of research before I started packing and still I had the feeling that I forgot a lot or brought stuff that was completely unnecessary. But now that I’ve been living here for more than seven months, I think I got the gist of what’s important and what’s not.
I was able to come to Japan with only one checked-in suitcase and one carry-on small suitcase. So, if you’re panicking about packing for the land of the rising sun, I got you! Read my ultimate packing list for Japan.
Clothes are of course the first thing you think of when packing, and yet it’s the most difficult to pack. First of all, pack the amount of clothes you would need for about two weeks. That’s more than enough. Think of all the shopping you’ll do when you’re in Japan (especially Tokyo aka. the Fashion Capitol).
The summers are very hot and moist (mushiatsui in Japanese). So, bring a lot of lightweight clothes and cardigans. Cardigans and sweaters are a necessity (even when you’re dying from the heat) because you’re most likely to take the train a few times during the day and the air-conditioning is ALWAYS on a maximum. You will get sick if you don’t bring your layers.
The winters (in Tokyo at least) are pretty soft. One day it may be snowing and storming, but most of the other days it’s just a stable but cold temperature. So again, layers are KEY. And if you haven’t brought enough, you have an excuse to go shopping.
PS: You can never go wrong with jeans!
For pajamas I would say to bring stuff that’s multi-functional. Like pajama bottoms that could also be sweatpants. That way it isn’t too embarrassing when you don’t feel like putting on clothes just to go get your laundry downstairs.
Bring an amount for about two weeks. This gives you time to figure out how the laundry room in your dorm works and find a good laundry detergent without running out of underwear. For the ladies, do bring enough (read: ALL) your bra’s. Japanese lingerie shops tend to have very small sizes and chances are they won’t fit you.
PS: If you still have room left, bring laundry softener. I’m still struggling to find a good one.
One pair of ballet flats, one pair of sneakers and one pair of boots will do. I was definitely guilty of bringing way too many shoes. But 1) Japanese shoe brands are not that expensive 2) I brought two pairs of fancier shoes… but chances are that I won’t go to any fancy events as a student that year. The Japanese mostly walk around with sneakers anyway because you will have to do A LOT of walking to get around.
Also keep in mind that in Japan you will have to take your shoes off a lot (some restaurants, temples, fitting rooms…) so try to bring shoes that are easy to take off and put back on.
For toiletries, bring as much from your home country as you can, ESPECIALLY deodorant. You will find no deodorant in Japan. They use a kind of scented water and trust me, that did not work for me.
Also for the ladies, bring a semester’s supply of feminine products. Tampons are of really bad quality (in comparison to the ones I have at home), while menstrual pads on the other hand are much too thick.
Japanese skincare is very different as well. It may work for you or it just doesn’t. I was lucky that my Japanese facewash did wonders for my skin. But I know that other people have had bad skin reactions to some of the local skincare products. So be sure to bring enough of what you’re used to.
Shaving cream is also hard to find here and very expensive, so don’t forget that!
Yes, Japan is the land of skincare and makeup. I would suggest to just bring your favourite basic makeup. The rest you can buy here.
When arriving in Japan you will probably have to take a local health insurance which will cover all the costs if you ever need to buy medicine. But do bring as much of the basics (vitamins, the pill, painkillers, coughing pills, stomach ache pills, disinfectant and band aids) as you can, just to get you started if anything were to happen. The Japanese environment and weather is very different to other countries. Because most people are not used to this they tend to get sick a lot quicker.
This might seem random, but you will arrive in the emptiest room of your life when stepping into your dorm room for the first time. There won’t be any clothing hangers either, so just bring a few to hang up some of the clothes that might wrinkle easier.
Your phone, laptop, earphones, camera and the CHARGERS (both phone and camera). They are so easy to forget. Also, a Japanese outlet adapter. Even though they’re very cheap in Japan, it’s always good to have one with you to survive the first 24-hours after your arrival. A powerbank is always handy too.
Omi… what? Omiyage is a Japanese word for a present or souvenir. In Japanese culture, it is custom to bring a small gift from your home country or from your recent travels to your friends. So, it might be nice to bring a candy or treat from your home country to hand out when you introduce yourself.
I hope this helped and good luck! If there are any more questions please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!