What should I pack?
It’s always difficult to know what to pack when travelling somewhere for the first time. You want to have enough clothes so that you don’t have to wash too often, but you also want to have room in your suitcase for any souvenirs and goodies you pick up on your travels.
These are my suggestions for what to pack when travelling to Japan with your family. It does depend on the time of year you are going, for example in winter it can get very cold, so you are going to need to bring warm jackets, however, these suggestions will give you some idea on what we took with us.
- Wear your good socks! You will be taking your shoes off a lot, for example, when you are visiting temples, some restaurants and if staying in a Ryokan (Japanese Inn). You don’t want to have socks with holes in them. It’s not a good look!
- Pack light. You will probably be doing a lot of walking, using public transport and moving between places. Lugging heavy baggage along with tired children is not a happy situation, especially when you have to navigate busy train Stations bursting with commuters or carry your belongings up large flights of stairs. Most subways and some train stations, especially those in smaller towns, do not have elevators for public use.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes. You will be walking a lot! Some places, such as gaming centres require closed-in shoes for safety reasons.
- Wear shoes you can take on and off easily. We used Velcro shoes when our children were younger. It is not always easy to remove and replace your shoes perched on the steps of a temple or restaurant, so you want to make this as easy as possible, especially for younger children.
- Bring a light jacket or wrap even in summer as the department stores, trains and hotels have their air-conditioning on high, and I often found myself getting cold when shopping. However, because the temperature outside is warm, you will find yourself constantly putting your jacket on and taking it off so bring something light and easy to carry.
- Pack casual, neat clothing that doesn’t require ironing, such as jeans, skirts, t-shirts or tops, light dresses. Again, it depends upon the time of year you will be visiting. When we went in winter, we also brought boots and a light rain jacket.
- Bring any medication you or your child requires with you as it may not be available in Japan and trying to explain what you want to a pharmacist may be difficult.
- We used either a small day bag or handbag with wide comfortable straps to carry around during the day. I needed it to fit my camera and water bottle, so I wanted something medium-sized without being too cumbersome.
- Bring any charging cords for cameras, iPads, phones etc. with you, plus several adapters. Japan uses 100 volts, 50Hz. I always pack these together in a separate small packing cell or zip lock bag and carry them in my hand luggage on the plane just in case my luggage goes missing or I want to charge something at the airport.
- Many cafes have power points available to charge your phone; however, they are obviously for Japanese plugs so you will need to carry an adapter if you want to use them.
- A useful item is a small knife and fork set for each child. Most restaurants only supply chopsticks so these can be very handy. Don’t pack them in your carry-on baggage when flying or you will be asked to leave them behind!
- Don’t forget your passports, (make sure everyone in your group has one!) credit card or travel card and some local currency for when you first arrive.