I’m on day four or five of my journey with Walk Japan along the famous Nakasendo Way when we take a diversion off the main route and are shuttled to Karasawa Falls. The thunderous waterfall, set in a valley of deep woodland, is as beautiful as any I’ve seen before. Here is a guide we will discuss what to pack for Japan.
The autumn season arrived late in Japan, which worried climate experts but was selfishly ideal for those of us wearing hiking boots. The kaleidoscope of browns, oranges, and reds peeking through the deep fog was as beautiful as I’d expected from the Japanese countryside. My lungs were thanking me for the physical inhalation of cold, pure air.
When their attention isn’t drawn by the absurd number of flashing lights shooting out of establishments ranging from hotels and restaurants to pachinko parlours and robot cabaret shows, there’s the chaotic side born out of Tokyo’s technocratic utopia, where millions of people trek through the city like lemmings, eyes firmly glued to their mobile devices. It all depends on where you are in town.
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What you bring to Japan is totally dependent on which Japan you’ll visit. Then there’s the matter of considering the season you’ll be visiting since the land of the rising sun does experience winter, spring, summer, and autumn. The following is a list of necessities for both urban and rural Japan.
Start with the Right Luggage
A carry-on-sized travel backpack is the finest baggage for Japan. Luggage is bulky and heavy, making it difficult to explore a city with. Hiking bags aren’t much better; they pack like a trash bag from the top, so you have to pour everything out to get to anything.
For a vacation to Japan, a travel bag is ideal. You may save checked bag costs, get your journey started without waiting at the baggage carousel, and you won’t have to worry about lost or damaged luggage if you travel with just carry-on gear.
Pack Comfortable Shoes
First and foremost, Japan is a pedestrian-friendly nation. People in this area stroll. They walk to the shop, the train, and their bikes, and they walk for exercise. Because Japan’s infrastructure is perhaps the greatest in the world for pedestrians, you’ll want to bring some comfortable walking shoes with you.
Your feet will tally up the kilometres unlike any other place on the earth, whether it’s on a hiking route or on city streets.
Chacos’ Outcross 2 hiking shoes were ideal for the trip to Japan. They’re simple to cram into your suitcase and take up much less room than heavy-duty hiking boots, which are really unneeded unless you’re going Bear Grylls.
Though the mesh may be a touch too forgiving in the cooler months of the year, layering up on socks is a simple remedy. Otherwise, these shoes are walking trail champs, and there’s no reason they can’t get you about the city as well.
In fact, the foldable heel design makes slipping into and out of your shoes a breeze. This is more convenient than ever in a nation where you must remove your shoes before entering a museum, monument, or restaurant – particularly in the country’s rural areas.
Double Use Hiking Pants for Japan
Use a pair of hiking trousers with a khaki style to save some bag room and to fit in a bit more neatly when you stop for a short tea or something more substantial, like a bowl of miso soup or perhaps some udon noodles.
Sure, they won’t be as clean (or as fresh) as a new pair of jeans, but no one is going to bend down and smell them. (If they do, you’re in for a different discussion.)
The Cresta Hiking Pants from L.L. Bean are a terrific alternative for blending in on both hiking trails in rural Japan and the casual Tokyo environment. If you get a bit wet on the trails, they’re breathable and dry fast. Nobody will mistake you for a schlub dressed out of the convention if you put on a good flannel button-up shirt.
Plan for Rain in Japan
The vibrant landscapes that can be seen all across the countryside of Japan did not merely materialise out of thin air. Do you recall the fog that was described at the beginning? Rain is common for pack in Japan, particularly in the months of June and July.
It is not something you want to happen, but the last thing you want is to be caught seven kilometres away from the closest town without having appropriate protective rain gear on your back.
It should come as no surprise that we are taking a look at Patagonia’s offerings when it comes to the purchase of a rain jacket since there is a reason why avid outdoor enthusiasts keep going back to them for their gear.
The Stretch Rainshadow Jacket is a well-liked option for both men and women since it is constructed to resist the elements of either a tropical rain or an arctic snowstorm. Because of its low weight, this jacket won’t take up much space in your luggage when you go to Japan.
What to Pack for Japan: Your Checklist
- Two pairs of pants (one pair of jeans, one pair of khaki)
- Three t-shirts
- Three button-up shirts
- 4 pairs of underwear
- Four socks
- During the non-summer months, wear 1 sweater.
- During the non-summer months, wear 1 sweater.
- A pair of nice, comfortable walking shoes that can also be dressed up
What You Should Not Bring: Fancy Clothes Unless you know for certain that you will be going somewhere that demands a suit, dress, and/or fancy shoes, there is no reason to bring them with you on your trip. Consider packing less by thinking that attire ranging from casual to smart casual will serve you well on the trip.
Rural Japan Packing List (7-10 days)
- Two pairs of pants (one hiking, the other jeans)
- 1 pair of hiking shoes, like Chacos Outcross (if you’re in the country, you won’t need anything dressy).
- If absolutely necessary, you can do laundry in the hotels if you bring one hiking t-shirt (if hiking in the summer, make it a “tech tee” and don’t worry about quantity).
The second set of clothing specifically for hiking is a good idea since you can always let your gear air out after a day of trekking or clean it at most hotels if it is really required.
Increasing the number of hiking shirts, trousers, and socks you bring by two or even three can reduce the amount of space available in your pack. Reuse the clothing you brought along for the hike, and separate the smelly items from the clean ones in a separate bag.
You should bring swim shorts since you will want to use the onsens, which are Japanese hot baths, but local culture dictates that you should not wear any clothing.
Pack for Japan is one of those few places in the world where travellers’ expectations are really met, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Because it is a nation that demands continuous exploration, you will want to travel with as little as possible and be on the go no matter where you are: in the city, in the countryside, or having your mind blown.
- Take the right backpack on your travels and pack light
- You don’t need hiking boots.
- Choose pieces made of technical fabrics for versatility and ease of washing and drying
- If you’re experiencing urban or rural life, you’ll need decent walking shoes