How To Pack for Japan!
After years of going to Japan, helping my dad pack for his business trips, and hearing the hilarious horror stories of my friends, I think a guide on packing hacks is overdue. Thankfully, there aren't many guidelines to follow when it comes to packing, but there are definitely some things I wish I had known, or told my friends, about packing for Japan that would have really helped.
Seasonal Packing - Dress Appropriately
If you're from California, I'm sorry but you've probably never really experienced Winter before. This being said, I had a friend who packed two suitcases for her trip to Japan in December, only to tell me how cold it was and she didn't have enough layers. In general, Japan's Summer and Winter are fairly hot and cold respectively (there are exceptions but lets keep this in a general focus). If you plan on going to Japan during summer or winter, please keep in consideration how hot and muggy it will get during the summer, along with how cold it can get during the winter. I've trained in the heats of Japan's sun and can vouch, it is hot. Look up the weather in the cities you plan on going to before your trip and dress appropriately.
Speaking of dressing appropriately, Japan is a more conservative country (usually). If you plan on going to Harajuku, maybe the bright colors and crazy fashions will blend, but try to go for a more casual look. I still remember being in a tank top trying to find a gift for a friend and getting stares from locals.
General Packing - Be Prepared
When it comes to the more general packing, my two rules are simple. First one, pack small. I don't mean pack light, but because everything is much smaller in Japan, you may not want to bring a huge suitcase to lug around. Also, most JR stations have long walkways and stairs (sometimes without elevators), so make sure your bag is easy to carry and has wheels to roll, making carrying them a lot easier.
Second rule, while this isn't as much a concern anymore, always have hand tissues or a small towel (or more during the summer). Public bathrooms in Japan don't always have towels to wipe your hands, which makes these pretty useful.
A couple more packing things: Japan's plugs are all two prongs so you may need converters and comfortable walking shoes are a must.