5 things you didn't think to pack for Japan
There are some things that are obvious choices from your trip to Japan. Extra memory card to capture all those wild street fashions. Extra suitcase for vending machine trinkets. But tissues?
One of Japan’s best-known customs is removing shoes upon entering a home. But a lot of other places you might visit – temples, museums, historical sites, even some restaurants – may require that you doff your footwear at the door, too. Make things easier for yourself – and save time – by forgoing those high lace-up boots for shoes that simply slip on and off, or else have Velcro fasteners.
If you’re eating out casually in Japan – in cafes, getting takeaway, etc – you’ll notice that napkins often aren’t given out to customers. It’s a good idea to carry a travel packet of tissues with you for snack times (especially if you’re travelling with kids).
Public bathrooms in Japan usually don’t have paper towels, and there are some that don’t even have hand dryers (or else there’s only one, which might mean waiting). Keep a small towel or washcloth in your bag for drying your hands after you’ve washed them. (A cool, moist towel on your neck will also help keep you cool during Japan’s hot and humid summer.
Similarly, some bathrooms you encounter may not even have soap, especially on shinkansen (bullet trains). A small bottle of hand sanitiser will come in handy, even for the non-germophobes.
Even if you’re visiting outside of ‘plum rain’ season (June and July), Japan’s island-weather system means it can rain almost any time of the year. Inexpensive umbrellas are available for purchase, of course, but they don’t fold up, and you may find that a compact travel umbrella is easier to carry when the sun comes out again.