How to Pack for a Trip to Tokyo

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Proper packing will prepare you for the busy streets of Tokyo.
Proper packing will prepare you for the busy streets of Tokyo. (Image: Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

With bustling streets filled with hordes of people, flashing neon signs and bright lights, Tokyo can be an overwhelming experience for tourists. Lessen the stress of your Japanese journey by packing all the essential items you’ll need for your trip. Keep in mind, however, that with Tokyo’s confined hotel spaces and cramped trains, it’s best to pack light and use small pieces of luggage.

Winter, Spring...

Tokyo in the winter can be chilly, with degrees hovering around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it is rare, it can also snow in the city. Be prepared by packing warm materials, such as wool sweaters, waterproof boots and coats, along with gloves, scarves and knit hats. If you plan on taking in a show or gourmet dinner in Asakusa, Tokyo’s main cultural and entertainment neighborhood, wear a casual sweater over a long-sleeved dress shirt with slacks or a sweater dress with tights and ankle boots. Things warm up in the spring when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom with daytime temperatures reaching the high 60s and low 70s. Evening temps tend to dip into the 50s, however, so it’s important to dress in layers. Bring cardigan sweaters or a light jacket and scarf for the evening.

Summer or Fall

Summers are hot and humid in Tokyo, with temperatures averaging in the 80s, complete with heavy rainfall in June. Pack mosquito repellent and light, breathable clothing, such as cotton shorts and tanks, skirts and linen pants. Sandals with thick soles provide comfort during long sightseeing-filled days. Guard against harmful UV rays with sunglasses, sun hats and sunscreen lotion. An umbrella will protect your from the sun and occasional showers as well. In the fall, temperatures measure in the 60s, dipping slightly in the evening into the mid-50s, and with heavy rain in September. Pack and dress in layers, and include a light waterproof jacket and umbrella.

Dress for the Occasion

Men and women in town for business should stick with monochromatic business suits partnered with dress shoes. Wear modest clothing while visiting Tokyo’s numerous temples and shrines, such as skirts that fall below the knee and sweaters to cover exposed skin. Casual wear will fit in just fine in neighborhoods such as Harajuku and Shibuya where youths dress in over-the-top fashion, including everything from cheerleading outfits to all-white face makeup.

Custom Tips

Many restaurants throughout the city require you to dine while sitting on floor mats. As a result, you may wish to avoid tight or uncomfortable clothing. Another common Japanese custom involves removing your shoes before entering someone’s home, temple or place of business. Carry a pair of socks if you prefer to have your feet covered and try to wear shoes that you can easily slip on and off.

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