What to Bring to Japan

Items that you may need during your travels in Japan

In keeping with the concept of the rest of this site, I only cover items here that are not commonly recommended. Sure, there will be some overlap, but I see no reason to remind you to pack your passport or airline tickets. The stuff listed here comes from personal experience, not a travel guide's generic trip packing list.


Deodorant

Basically, there is no such thing as Japanese deodorant and you will have a hell of a time trying to find any stick deodorant here. If you look really hard you will may find some small roll on stuff of questionable value, but that's about it. As a whole, the Japanese people just don't need it, that's all there is to it. You can argue it up and down all you want, but if you need deodorant, pack it before you leave for Japan. Deodorant is the only item that, even after an extensive search, I was not able to source in Japan and ended up having to have shipped from the US. I highly recommend the big chunk style rock salt deodorant (for in Japan and out). They are often made from Himalayan salt (not that that part really matters) and sold in a ball or block. They're cheap, work well and last for years on a ten dollar investment.


A Change Purse

You can read my page on using money in Japan to see why, but you will end up with a lot of Japanese coinage that will need to be used up. A small bag of some sort will help you keep track of your yen and is highly recommended. You can of course, buy a change purse in Japan, but the sooner you have one the easier your travels in Japan will be.


Comfortable Easily Removable Walking Shoes

This one is fairly obvious, but it still warrants mentioning. Constantly removing your shoes is a lot easier with slip ons, stay away from anything with laces.

Aside from being easy to remove, your traveling shoes should be as comfortable for walking as possible. Pretty much everything on your itinerary in Japan will involve an ample amount of walking.

Small Backpack or Knapsack

As mentioned above, a great deal of your travels will likely involve walking, buses, taxis and trains. Personally, I come from a car culture where most of the items that you need to have with you can easily be dumped in to your car and retrieved at will. This is not the case when you are on foot. In places like Japan, your travels will be much more enjoyable if you have a nice place to stash all your daily necessities. IMPORTANT TIP: Don't go overboard with the size, keep it small and compact. A lot of spaces in Japan are also small and compact and if you're the one lugging around a rucksack size bag you're going to get into everyone's way, including your own. A small knapsack with a shoulder strap is just perfect.

Handkerchief or Light Weight Towel

The public bathrooms in Japan often lack paper towels for drying your hands or face. Some places will even lack an electric hand dryer, although this is more true in public transportation or government buildings than other, more customer oriented places. You can always carry around small packets of tissues like many Japanese do. Actually, in urban areas these are often being handed out for free as a means of advertising for local businesses, but these little thin tissues can only go so far when it comes to drying your hands or face, especially in the warmer, more humid times of the year. I highly recommend stuffing a handkerchief or two in your knapsack. It will certainly make your trip more enjoyable. I would bring two. That way at the end of the day, you can rinse it out when you back to the hotel and then take the alternate out the next day while leaving the previous day's towel out to dry. If you want something more in the Japanese spirit, you can purchase a furoshiki once you get to Japan. Furoshiki were cloths used in old Japan to carry around your daily items, sort of a precursor to the modern day backpack or knapsack. They are cheap, about double the size of a standard handkerchief and are available in many old style Japanese designs.