Selective Hearing’s Japan Trip Planning Guide Part 4 – Packing List

If you have followed the first 3 parts of this series then you are about ready to make your way to Japan and are continuing to save money that you can happily use to make it rain when you arrive.

Before you can make that happen you of course need to figure out what to pack.  This is probably the biggest dilemma after securing your flight and accommodations.  Why? It’s because people have the tendency to want to take as much stuff with them “Just in case”.

That is the wrong way of thinking my friends.  Always pack light and keep your bag(s) down to the essentials.  Think about it.  Do you really need to bring your entire wardrobe with you?

Look at your itinerary and determine what clothing would be suitable for what you are doing.  If you’re just bumming around the city you don’t require dress clothes do you?  Sure you’ll look like the locals but unless you’re going to a fashion show or some fancy restaurant you don’t need them.

Of course you could be like my boy Dave and just bring an empty bag and buy what you need to wear in Japan.  That is assuming you are built to wear Japanese fits.  If you’re like me you are Charles Barkley, Shaq or Godzilla size in Japan and nothing will ever fit you outside of shoes and accessories.

Anyway, when it comes to clothing you will need to do a little bit of homework. Find out what the average temperatures are during each season.  Let’s exclude summer.  I can tell you through experience that the average summer temperature in Japan is “Fucking hot!”

Really. You could be walking around naked and still be working up a sweat.  If you don’t believe me try this.  Go to a sauna in full street wear and sit in there for 8 – 10 hours.  If you feel completely comfortable in that environment then summer in Japan is good for you.

If not, well there’s no real way to pack for that kind of situation except to do what Hiro did and invest in a lot of dri-fit type clothing.  Even then he was still miserable and uncomfortable but not super sweaty.

But for every other season you should be able to get away with regular cotton blend clothing and not have any issues with the weather.

There are plenty of sites to tell you how and what and how to pack so I won’t go too hardcore into this subject. But if you’re interested, the one site I have used religiously is called One Bag.  The advice on that site has saved me a lot of trouble during my travels.

With that said I could give you a couple of tidbits from my experiences so far.

It’s all about the shoes

You will definitely need a couple of pairs of comfortable, well worn-in shoes and possibly some gel insoles.  Why?  Because Japan is a land where you walk everywhere.  I mean EVERYWHERE.

Do you want to know why Japanese people can eat so much cool food and still be all skinny?  It’s because their environment is all about walking to get to places.  I lost 6 pounds just walking around Tokyo for 2 weeks.  If I lived in Japan I probably would be a hell of a lot thinner.

Heed my words; absolutely do not ignore this. If you don’t listen you are going to be in for a hell of a lot of pain and unfortunately, there aren’t many places to sit down and take a break in urban Tokyo.

I don’ t think your traveling companions or random strangers will be akin to dragging your sore foot ass around to find a place to sit either.

As it is stated in the Hitchikers’s Guide to the Galaxy…

If you have a small handkerchief of some sort make sure that is on your list of essential items to go in your check-in or more preferably your carry on luggage.  The reason for this is because if you ever have to use the facilities in say a train station, you will discover there are no towels to wipe your hands after washing up.

I am not shitting you on this.  I remember using the facilities in Akihabara station and there was not a towel dispenser or hand dryer in sight.  Everyone had their own towel of some sort with them.  Thank god I had the sweat rag I bought at the Daiso.

So unless you like wiping your hands on your shirt or pants, have one of those handy with you at all times.

If you’re curious here are a few of the items that I had packed with me for my recent trip.  I will exclude clothing since those are a given and as I stated above are packed based on situations you will encounter during your stay.


  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Laptop
  • Point & Shoot camera
  • Camcorders (Yes, I had two on me. Three if you count my point & shoot)
  • Camera memory cards
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Headphones
  • 8 GB USB Stick
  • Various adapters and chargers for above devices
  • Travel plugin adapter for Japan


  • Passport
  • Paper copies of flight and hotel bookings (In addition to the electronic ones on my phone)
  • Photocopies of passport and all trip related documents (Very important to have these in case something happens to the originals)
  • Tokyo train station map
  • Canadian, U.S. & Japanese currency

Of course that wasn’t everything, but it should give you an idea of what I had with me to make my trip as efficient and simple as possible.

My last piece of advice is to pack an empty bag within your checked luggage if you plan to bring a lot of stuff back.  Sure it will take up some room but it will save you from having to buy one before you leave Japan. Other than that, what to pack is subjective to your needs.

This article probably won’t be much help at all. It’s difficult to tell people what they should put in their bags after all, hopefully this generalization of some of the things you need should be enough to get you started.

Next time we will discuss a few things you should study before your go on your trip.

About Greg 1009 Articles
Greg is the creator, administrator, editor, code monkey, overlord and general jack of all trades at Selective Hearing. He can be found lurking among the overseas Asian pop fandom and bumming around Japan every year for some reason or another.