What to Bring When Traveling in Japan

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A travel opportunity is always greeted with a plan. Here’s a few tips on what to bring when you travel in Japan!

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Three days before departure…

It almost always begins with the packing.

With all the excitement of going to Japan, almost any traveler would be blindsided with their priorities. From choosing what to bring to making sure your passport is valid. Despite all that that, a three month trip traveling all around Japan isn’t a walk in the park and there is no way we can carry our entire wardrobe. So the question is what to bring while traveling in Japan?

In order to know what to bring, I need to know where I’m going first!

The places I plan to go to in Japan

  • Nagano (high elevation, mountainous, cold)
  • the Alpine Route (cold)
  • Kanazawa (on the Sea of Japan, it is know to be cold)
  • Kyoto (Central Japan; should be cool in October and November)
  • Osaka (same as Kyoto)
  • Hiroshima (same as Kyoto)
  • Yamaguchi (the southern tip of Honshu, should be cool)
  • Fukuoka (on Kyushu, should be cool in October and November)
  • Kumamoto (should be cool in October and November)
  • Beppu Onsens in Oita (should be cool in October and November)
  • Kagoshima (should be cool in October and November)
  • Tokyo (should be cool in October and November)
  • Chiba (should be cool in October and November)
  • Ibaraki (should be cool in October and November)

What will make this trip even more interesting is that I will be traveling alone.

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Kinkakuji (Golden Temple in Kyoto)

Why these places?

I hear that the peak of the fall season is one of the best times to see these places. To add to that, I never traveled around Japan in one shot.  Given these places, I already have an idea of what to bring in terms of staying comfortable.

Where Will I Stay?

I really have no idea where I will stay. In fact, I won’t even be making any reservations. There is always a hotel lobby, a train station, some park bench, my handy compact foldable tent or the hostels!

Why am I doing it this way?

First, because I want to. I hate plans, deadlines, or anything that involves penalty fees.

Second, I don’t want to stay at hotels where the tourists are. I want to stay where the travelers are!

Third, I do not want to travel like a tourist. 

So What Exactly Will I Bring?

Most important item to bring is the passport followed with traveling money. A passport is probably the most important document to carry while overseas. Without a passport, you wouldn’t be able to enter or leave Japan. Without cash, how will you get around? I plan to make several copies of my passport and keep it in several places i.e. my wallet, bag, and travel pouch.

As for the cash, I’m going to carry an old foldable wallet I still have hanging around in which I retired some time in high school. If I ever lose this wallet, I wouldn’t really care about it except for the cash inside.

For those who are curious about the amount I will bring, I will carry around 20,000 yen (about $180) at all times in my wallet. I will hide the rest of my money in two separate place in my pack because an experienced traveler never keeps all their eggs in one basket. As for the total amount of money, I’ll be carrying approximately $1000 in cash. The yen is weak during this time so I’ll be getting an additional $200 from the exchange or in yen 120,000 yen. There will be a small transaction fee at the exchange but with the yen being weak it’s a good deal.

Other things of importance that I will bring is the JR RAIL PASS, my driver’s license (just for ID if I lose my passport or wallet) and some credit cards (Mastercard and Amex). If I ever run out of cash, I will use my credit cards

Based on my research, Japan, despite being a rich and technologically advanced country is a dominantly cash based society. I guess Japanese vendors like liquidity. So I’ll stick with cash. Plus, who would want to pay international surcharges?

One last thing is my college student ID. This might not be necessary but I find my student ID very handy for those discounts that are only offered to those who are still in school.

What Kind of Apparel?

It’s still the beginning of October when I plan to go,and Japan isn’t supposed to be that cold yet, but the places I chose to go to will be freezing due to the high elevation of some places.

Furthermore, when traveling for long periods, you want your clothes to be very durable and light in weight. You also want to be warm so I’ll be wearing them in layers. Wearing in layers is best because depending on your environment, you can always strip out what you don’t need. The worst thing that can happen is sweating too much that your clothes get wet. Non-cotton clothes are perfect for these kinds of situations but I love cotton. So it will be 3 short sleeved cotton shirts for sleeping, 3 short sleeved polyester shirts for traveling, 2 long sleeve polyester shirts to keep warm, a lot of underwear (the sport type), and 5 pairs of wool socks.

As for pants, I will be wearing convertible pants and bring an old pair of jeans!

One Good Jacket to Rule them All!

As for overall protection, I will be bringing a very durable nylon flight jacket. It’s the best jacket I’ve had for riding, driving, hiking, and  traveling! It is heavy duty but warm and water resistant.

Shoes?

Shoes are probably the most abused gear I’ll be bringing. Since my mobility is dependent on the type of shoes I’ll be bring, I need to be wearing a really good pair! I wouldn’t want my shoe to fall apart while hiking some place in Japan. So why not something all-around? An old hiking boot would be the perfect choice! It is waterproof, good for all-seasons, already broken-in and rugged.

Communications/ Mobile Devices?

Just to add, I won’t carry a smart phone with me. The only electronic device I will be carrying is my digital camera and an android tablet that contains all my travel files (my plans, maps, tour books, and etc.) in .pdf format. That will make my carry pack light! Why do I not want to bring my phone with me? Read more to see why in my next blog Post!

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