japan travel checklist & packing list

The Ultimate Japan travel Checklist & japan packing list

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Heading to Japan for the first time? Minimize your pre-trip stress with my comprehensive packing list for Japan. You want to make sure you have everything you need while still traveling light. Use this ultimate packing checklist so you don’t forget any critical items for your upcoming Japan trip.

The Ultimate Japan travel Checklist & japan packing list

japan travel checklist

Japan travel requirements 2024 

As of 2023, Japan has reopened to tourism and relaxed the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions. However, there are still some procedures travelers must complete to visit Japan:

The rest of the section remains the same, focusing on the current Visit Japan online process, visa requirements by nationality, and the postponed e-Visa program.

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Best Travel Resources for your trip

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Japan Travel Checklist | Travel To Japan Checklist 

Before Going To japan travel checklist

  •  Get passport with 6+ months validity
  •  Buy Japan Rail Pass 1 month before voucher and exchange orders
  •  Reserve pocket WiFi or SIM/ Esim card for pickup
  •  Purchase your Suica/Pasmo card for pickup at the airport
  •  Order yen cash from bank or currency exchange
  •  Screenshot booking confirmations and travel docs
  •  Obtain International Driving Permit if renting car
  •  Check visa requirements based on nationality
  • Chek Japan Travel Requirements (details above)
japan travel checklist

Book Flights and Accommodation

  •  Book round trip international airfare (Want to find cheap flights ? Check out my google hack here)
  • Read up on Travel Hacks that will save you itme and money
  •  Book your Japan Hotels in advance. I recommend Booking . com since they have the largest selection and flexible cancelation policies.
  •  Reserve ryokan stays at top choices ASAP. I recommend Booking . com because a lot of Ryokans are on there and that’s where I booked mine. It’s easy and straightforward with flexible cancelation policies
  •  Book day tours and popular experiences in advance to skip lines. I recommend Viator and GYG for Tours and activities since they have the best reviews and are trusted and have the largest selection!

Research and Planning For Japan Trip 

More Japan Articles

japan Travel Planning Articles:

Just Before Departure Travel Checklist Japan: Japan travel checklist 2023

  •  Confirm all bookings and reservations
  •  Screnshot booking confirmations and Email yourself travel docs (as a backup)
  •  Inform bank/credit card company of travel plans
  •  Arrange pet care, plant watering, mail hold if needed
  •  Finish packing checklist with all essentials
  •  Confirm no travel restrictions in place
  •  Advise family/friends of detailed Japan itinerary

This checklist covers all the key steps you need to take. Go through it methodically over the next months leading up to your trip date. With thorough preparation,  your journey exploring Japan for the first time will be an absolutely incredible life experience!


Travel Documents Japan Trip Checklist 

  • Passport – Check expiration date and verify it has empty visa pages if required. Email yourself a copy and take a photo of it just in case original is lost
  • Check Plane tickets & reservations -Screenshot copies as back-up.
  • Cash in Yen – Obtain some from your bank before leaving or get it at the airport at the 7/11 . How to get cash in Japan w/o atm fees
  • Bring 1 Debit card & 2 credit cards – Alert your bank of travel plans to avoid fraud lock.
  • Travel insurance documents – Have your policy number and details handy.
  • Identification – Driver’s license or other government-issued ID.
  • International Driving Permit– if you’re doing the mario go kart tours this is a must have
  • JR Rail pass – Exchange order to obtain actual Japan Rail Pass once in Japan.
  • JR Raill Pass Holder/Lanyard – this is essential, as the JR rail pass is made of paper you don’t want to damage it or lose it.
japan travel checklist

Japan Travel requirements & entry requirements for Visiting Japan

Japan has a streamlined entry process that foreign nationals must now complete online in advance through the Visit Japan web service. This replaces the old paper disembarkation card.

Through Visit Japan, you fill out details like your passport info, trip itinerary, and contact information.

It generates a QR code that you should screenshot to your phone. When you arrive at the airport in Japan, you can show this digital confirmation to smoothly pass through immigration lines.

I recommend completing the Visit Japan process on your phone shortly before departure. This allows you to have the digital approval handy if the airport has connectivity issues. It really speeds up the entry experience compared to filling out paperwork. It’s easy, there are two forms you need to complete and request a QR code once you are done.

Tip: There should be two QR codes you need to get. One is for immigration and the other is for customs.

Citizens from 68 countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and many European nations can enter Japan without a tourist visa for short-term stays.

However, other nationalities like China, India, and Russia still need to apply for a tourist visa through their local Japanese embassy or consulate before traveling to Japan.

The Japanese government had planned to launch an e-Visa program in 2020, but this was postponed due to COVID-19 impeding international travel.

Check the official embassy website for your country to find the most up-to-date visa requirements for visiting Japan as a tourist.

Things to bring to japan 

  • Away Wheeled Carryon Suitcase – I recommend Away Luggage Bigger Carryon. It’s the best luggage!
  • Foldable Duffel bag – For all the goodies you will be bringing back. Easier and space saving to carry and you can check these in at most airlines. 
  • Backpack /daypack – To carry essentials while sightseeing or for daytrips where you don’t want to bring all your luggage!
  • Packing cubes – Keep contents organized. Use different sizes for efficient packing.
  • Tote bag/foldable bag – For shopping trips and souvenirs.
  • Luggage scales – Ensure bags are under weight limits to avoid fees.
  • Locks – Secure zippers together to deter theft. Get TSA-approved ones if coming from USA. (You won’t need this if you have the Away luggage as it comes with one already!)
  • Laundry bags – Keep dirty clothes separate for washing (Away luggage will have these for you)

Travel Essentials

Curated List of travel Must Haves

japan packing list

packing list for japan

  • Tennis Shoes/ Sneakers/ Walking shoes – Well- AZsx, comfy sneakers or sandals. You’ll walk a lot! I recommend New Balances and Adiddas 
  • Lightweight raincoat/poncho – Essential during Japan’s rainy season.
  • Sweater/fleece – For cool mountain regions, air-conditioned buses/trains.
  • Jacket/ Blazer  – Spring and fall can be chilly, especially at night. I’m bringing a few of my Frankie Shop blazers that can be dressed up or down
  • Baseball Hat / Bucket Hat  – Sun protection. Baseball caps are ubiquitous in Japan.
  • Smart casual clothes – Jeans, trousers, modest tops and dresses work well.
  •  underwear 
  • Socks – Breathable, moisture wicking pairs.
  • Swimsuit – If you plan to visit an onsen hot spring.

Japan packing list ( What to pack for Japan)   – What to Wear Based on Region

Japan is a massive country with diverse climates across its regions, from sub-tropical islands to freezing mountain villages.

Packing based on the season alone doesn’t work for a Japan trip. So if you are packing for Japan, you need to pack for the weather conditions at each specific location on your itinerary. But don’t worry, I’ve got a handy guide below to help!

For example, Hokkaido in northern Japan still sees freezing temperatures in April, while Okinawa in the south can be hot and humid. The weather in Tokyo in July is drastically different from mountain areas like Nagano.

Check the long-term weather forecast for every destination you’ll visit. Then use this location-focused packing checklist to ensure you have the proper clothing and gear for each area:

If Visiting Subtropical Southern Islands like Okinawa Japan Packing List :

  • Light, breezy clothing – shorts, t-shirts, tanks, sundresses
  • Swimsuit and cover up
  • Sandals
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and aloe gel
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho

If Visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo in Summer Japan Packing List (June-August):

  • Light tops and dresses – opt for breathable fabrics like linen or cotton
  • Shorts and skirts – keep length modest for temples
  • Lightweight trousers like chinos
  • Flat, walkable sandals or sneakers
  • Sweat-wicking socks
  • Sturdy raincoat and/or umbrella
  • Light scarf or shawl to cover skin from sun

If Visiting Northern Areas Like Hokkaido in Summer Japan Packing List :

  • T-shirts, short sleeves for mild days
  • Light sweaters and cardigans for cool evenings
  • Light jacket
  • Trousers or jeans
  • Closed-toed shoes and socks

If Visiting Anywhere in Japan in June-July Rainy Season Japan Packing List :

  • Waterproof jacket with hood or foldable umbrella
  • Water-resistant shoes with good traction
  • Quick-dry travel towels and swimwear
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Plastic ponchos to keep daypacks/bags dry

If Visiting Most Main Islands During Spring (March-May) or Fall (September-November) What To Pack for japan :

  • Light layers – mix short and long sleeve tops
  • Lightweight scarf or wrap
  • Jacket or hoodie for variable weather
  • Trousers and jeans
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Mini-umbrella

If Visiting Northern Areas Like Hokkaido in Late Fall What To Pack for japan:

  • Warm coat, water-resistant if possible
  • Sweaters and long sleeve shirts
  • Scarf, hat, gloves
  • Thermal base layers
  • Trousers or jeans
  • Warm socks and closed-toed shoes

If Visiting Mountain Areas During Winter What To Pack for japan:

  • Heavy winter coat and snow pants
  • Multiple sweaters and long underwear
  • Two pairs warm gloves
  • Wool socks, snow boots
  • Balaclava face mask
  • Hand and toe warmers

Pick and choose what you need to pack based on your specific Japan itinerary. Focus on versatile pieces that work across multiple outfits. Most importantly, check the weather forecast often as your trip dates approach to finetune your packing list!

travel to japan advice The Perfect Arashiyama Itinerary in Kyoto

What To bring To Japan- japan travel packing list

Toiletries & Medications

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss (for flights) most hotels will have these for you so don’t bring them! 
  • Makeup, moisturizer
  • Brush/comb
  • Glasses, contacts, solution 
  • Deodorant
  • DON’T bring Shampoo, conditioner all hotels will have these toileteries for you
  • Feminine products
  • Hand sanitizer, wipes
  • Prescriptions – Bring extra supply in carry-on bag.
  • OTC meds – Pain relievers, antihistamines, antacids, etc. (Some RX drugs are illegal in Japan so make sure you don’t bring those without the proper documentation

japan travel essentials

Other japan Travel Essentials

  • Sunglasses & case
  • Umbrella – Lightweight travel foldable type.
  • Water bottle – Refillable to reduce waste.
  • Small Washcloth – Many Japanese restrooms lack towels.
  • Tissues/handkerchief – Public restrooms often lack paper towels.
  • Hand sanitizing wipes/gel – Helpful when out and about.
  • Pens & small notebook
  • Daypack/tote bag – For essentials needed while sightseeing.
  • Coin purse – Japan is still largely a cash society.
  • Extra plastic bags – To separate clean/dirty items.

Nice-to-Haves packing list japan

  • Travel guidebook
  • Portable fan – For hot, humid summer months.
  • Travel towel/sarong – For impromptu swimming, hot springs.
  • Travel cutlery – Chopsticks are provided but nice to have fork/spoon option.
  • Compression sacks – To compact bulky items and optimize space.
  • Mini sewing kit – For clothing repairs on the go.
  • Travel games, cards, books – For leisure time.
  • Earplugs & sleep mask – Helpful for light sleepers.

Use this ultimate checklist to ensure you don’t forget to pack any critical items for your Japan trip. With the essentials covered, you can focus on planning an amazing itinerary! Have a wonderful journey in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Ultimate japan travel planning Guide

Planning a trip to japan:

find these helpful articles and resources to plan your trip to Japan:

Tokyo City Guide:

Kyoto City Guide

Takayama City Guide

Kanazawa City Guide

Osaka

nikko

Hakone

Best 8 Hakone Ryokans To Book

Fukuoka

Japan Travel Guide:

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READY TO BOOK YOUR TRIP?

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