Japan: what to pack & check prior to departure

A trip to Japan can require quite a bit of preparation. A few more details will make your trip even more enjoyable and sustainable. 

Before you go:

  • Of course, you should read our article about the JR train pass, a huge money saver for traveling through Japan.
  • Should you drive, our road trip articles may be a good source of info for Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido.
  • If you are planning on bringing back some electronics or watches, make sure you check features and prices at home, as the language barrier may make it rough to get relevant info in Japan, even in the biggest stores of Akihabara, the electronics town in Tokyo.
  • Japan is quite unique and you may want to read about the do’s and dont’s to make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself or unawarely insult people. Here is a non-exhaustive list with a very few essentials:
    • Don’t stick your chopsticks in your rice,
    • Don’t cut your food with your chopsticks,
    • Don’t tip,
    • Read about temple and shrines to behave appropriately,
    • Queue as the locals, respectfully,
    • Always keep your temper and don’t raise your voice,
    • Give and take objects with both hands.

A few items in your luggage will improve your experience:

  • A paper notebook for stamps: in every site of Japan, you will find funny stamps and ink pads to commemorate your visit. Stamp your way through Japan with your very own passport-like notebook!
  • Non-disposable chopsticks: disposable chopsticks are constantly provided every time one buys food. It is estimated that about 24 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks are used in Japan, yearly, creating a serious environmental issue. Reduce your impact by buying your own instead  – plus this will be a fun souvenir!
  • When you meet Japanese people or stay at their place, you are likely to receive gifts from them. It is polite to give a gift back. You may want to pack a few small souvenirs from home which you can give in return.


Learning a bit of Japanese would be a huge asset! Indeed, the lack of English spoken can lead to a certain level of frustration… The NHK publishes a great 52-lesson program.

Any essentials you would add to that list?



4 thoughts on “Japan: what to pack & check prior to departure

      • you’re welcome, as a woman I once bought men’s shoes because mine were soaking wet…japanese geta are always too small too. Also bring cough medication, last time I had a cold in summer in Tokyo I had to try many cough drops the taste was not what we europeans are used to and I found them less effective.


  1. Pingback: A road trip in and around Kyushu, Japan | Best regards from far,

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