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You’re about to find about how to plan a stylish packing list for Japan in winter.
Japan in winter time means cool temperatures and the possibility of snow. The most important thing to know is that you’ll definitely need a long coat to keep warm, alongside boots and gloves, which makes it a little harder if you’re trying to travel light.
In this article I share some tips on how to keep warm AND how not blow your luggage weight limit. The winter in Japan packing list below would easily fit into one carry on (5-7kg) and one checked bag (15-20 kilos). If you are flying without a checked bag, you’ll need to remove some of the items.
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What’ll you’ll learn:
- What to wear and pack for Japan in winter
- Season and weather information
- Tips to stay safe and healthy while in Japan in winter
- Hotel and sightseeing recommendations
When to Visit Japan: Weather and Seasons
If you’re visiting in a season other than winter, below you’ll find links to packing lists for each season in Japan.
What to pack in Spring in Japan (March, April, May): .Spring is one of my favourite times to visit well, practically anywhere, and Japan is no different. The country comes alive with cherry blossoms during spring leading to shades of pink all over. Visit the Japan Spring packing list here.
What to pack in Summer in Japan (June, July, August): Summer in Japan can get a bit steamy, depending where you’re visiting. You’ll want to pack as little as possible during this time while adhering to certain modesty rules. To find out what you need to pack for a summer holiday to Japan click here.
What to pack in Fall for Japan (September, October, November): Autumn is also a great time to visit Japan. Reds, oranges and greens are more prominent in the trees making the cities and national parks look vibrant. Click here to find out what you need to pack for Japan in fall / autumn.
What to pack in Winter in Japan (December, January, February): . Winter is a pretty snazzy time to visit Japan. As an Australian, winter in Japan also offers the chance for a white Christmas, something unheard of where I’m from. Keep reading to find out what to pack for winter in Japan.
What to Wear in Japan in Winter
How to dress for Winter in Japan:
- 1-2x warm boots: Don’t let the heat escape from your feet! Stay warm and stylish by packing 1-2 pairs of boots. Make sure one pair is suitable for hikes if you plan to do so. To keep your luggage weight down make sure you wear one of these on your flight. I wore healed boots in Japan and had no problems but if you want something practical stick to flat boots.
- 1 pair of flats or sneakers: One pair of flats for warmer days, or a pair of sneakers for hiking or comfortable walking.
- 4-5 x socks
- 6-10 pairs of underwear
- 3-5 bras
- 1-2 x pairs of gloves: Likewise with the boots, don’t let heat escape from your extremities.
- 1-3 x Woolen hat / beenie: If you’ve always wanted to wear a corny woolen hat Japan is your country! Much like China and South Korea, its perfectly acceptable for adults to wear animal themed woolen hats here.
- Cardigan x 2
- 1 x jacket/ coat: I’d bring just one as these take up a lot of space, and they’re the outer layer so wont need to be washed as much. If you’re traveling ultra light wear this on the plane, or if its too hot where you’re leaving from carry it to beat luggage weight restrictions.
- Tops x 4-7: I personally love using basic colors with my pants and coats, so I can have a mix of plain colored and colorful tops.
- dresses x 1-2: Pair with leggings or warm stockings depending on the temperature.
- Sleepwear: Best to go with a light weight night gown.
- Bottoms x 2-5: Depending on how light you want to pack and how much space you have in your luggage. Remember most hotels have a laundry service or can help you find one.
- Leggings x 1-2: Perfect for hikes, under dresses and lazing around the hotel.
- Stockings x 1-2: Wear it under your clothes if its too cold outside.
- 1-2x Scarf
What to Pack for Japan in Winter: Other Items
- Charger for phone
- Camera and any lenses. I personally travel with a Sony a6500 + 19mm f2.8.
- Camera batteries and charger
- Adapter for Japanese power points
- Portable battery – incase you run out of power when you’re out sightseeing
- 2-3 16GB memory cards. Avoid buying one big card if you can afford it, having your photos over multiple guards means you don’t loose all your photos if one breaks or goes missing
- Regular medicine needs + prescription (if you have one)
- A small amount of medicine in original packaging such as headache, sore stomach and re-hydration pills/ sachets.
Makeup & Toiletries
- Travel sized toothpaste + your toothbrush
- Any makeup you’d normally wear + travel sized moisturizer as your skin will try out more in the cold.
- Shampoo + conditioner in travel sized bottles (or you can buy these once you’re here if your hotel doesn’t give out free ones). Alternatively try solid shampoo (see prices).
- Soap or small pack of laundry detergent to wash clothes in sink if needed (alternatively just use your hotel’s free soap, or your solid shampoo if you brought one)
- 2 or more bank cards. If one gets lost or stolen you have the second one to back you up. Try to take one Visa and one MasterCard as not all bank machines accept both.
- Photocopies of your passport incase your actual passport goes missing or gets stolen. Leave an extra copy with someone you trust back home as well.
- Lock so you can lock up your valuables. Hostel lockers may not always have a lock for you, and if you’re staying in a hotel a lock on your suitcase is never a bad idea.
- Suitcase: You’ll have no trouble traveling around Japan with a suitcase. Here are some great options.
- Backpack: Keep baggage weight limits in mind. Make sure you see if you can fit your winter gear inside the backpack with enough time to get a bigger one if you can’t. I personally would use a 70L for a winter trip – see the price for this one.
Where to Stay in Japan in Winter
- Budget: For a dorm head to the Grids Hostel Lounge Nihombashi East which offers a laundry service and 24 hour reception. It has public transport nearby and is one of the more affordable dorms in Tokyo. See the prices here.
- Midrange: The Horidome Villa Hotel Tokyo is one of the cheaper options for private rooms which offers good value for the price. You can adjust the temperature in your room and chill out with a cup of tea when it gets too cold outside. See the latest prices here.
- Luxury: The Peninsula Hotel Tokyo is a perfect choice in winter with its indoor pool and gym for days when its too cold to go sightseeing. The rooms also come with the convenience of an in-room fridge and breakfast. See more information here.
- Budget: The Roots Hostel Osaka is close to the city center and perfect for sightseeing. There are laundry facilities and breakfast to take advantage of in the hostel. Find out more here.
- Mid-range: The Mielparque Osaka is located near public transport, and also has a 24 hour reception which is handy is you’re arriving at a weird hour. Laundry services are also on offer here, as is a restaurant and a hair salon. Find more details here.
- Luxury: With cheaper prices than Tokyo, Osaka is a good place to splurge on a luxury hotel. Some of the rooms in the Hotel Hankyu International have amazing views so this is my choice for luxury in Osaka. The hotel has its own restaurant and bar which helps on those cold days when you don’t feel like going outside in the evenings. See the prices here.
- Budget: The Bakpak Hostel Kyoto is your best option for a value packed dorm in Kyoto. The hostel has its own kitchen to help you save money on meals, and there’s a place to eat and drink onsite. It’s also convention for getting around with a train station nearby. Find more information here.
- Midrange: Hotel MyStays Kyoto Shijo is a decent choice if you’re looking for a reasonably priced private room in Kyoto. It’s near public transport and is open 24 hours so you’ll never have to worry about checking in at odd hours. There is also an onsite beauty spa and the rooms all have safes for you to keep your valuables. See more details here.
- Luxury: The decor of the Hotel and Spa Lotus Modern really makes it stand out for me. The hotel is strictly not for children allowing a peaceful stay and has a 24 hour front desk. See the latest prices here.
All other cities in Japan
- For prices of hotels in other cities, you can have a look on the Hotels Combined website. I use them as they look at a couple of booking sites to help you get the best deal – visit their website here.
Don’t Forget to Pack Travel Insurance | Japan Packing List for Winter
It still baffles me when people don’t use travel insurance on their trips. If something happens to you abroad the medical bills could be in the hundreds of thousands. I couldn’t imagine the strain that would put on my family.
A more likely situation however is petty theft of your belongings while traveling. I’ve had this happen to me a few times on my trip and was able to get money back so I could replace those items. I’ve had both a Go Pro stolen ($500 value) and a laptop water damaged ($500+), without travel insurance I wouldn’t have been able to replace those items.
I personally use World Nomads, as unlike most companies you don’t have to be in your home country to book travel insurance. This is super handy for backpackers and late planners. You can get an obligation free quote above by inputting your details, or you can click here to visit the website.
Packing List for Japan: Safety and Health
Japan is as safe as most western countries but as you should everywhere, keep your wits about you and an eye on your belongings. This is especially true in big cities, much like it is back home.
Popular Day Tours in Winter in Japan
There is so much to do an see in Japan, from national parks to city sights. Below I’ve recommended some day tours to get you started.
There’s so much to see in Tokyo that I’m going to leave a link for more day tour ideas here and I’ll share my personal favourites below:
- Disneyland or Disneysea pass – I’ve actually never gone to a Disneyland anywhere so I’m definitely doing this one next time I’m in Japan. See the prices here.
- For the two best ways to see the sights in Tokyo I’d recommend either taking a tour with a local, or doing the touristy hop on hop off bus to see as much as possible. They both have their pro’s and con’s, so to find more information for the local guided sights tour click here and for the hop on, hop off pass click here.
- Visit Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi in one easy day trip. If you did it alone it’d be quite hard to see both of these in the same day unless paying for expensive taxis. See the latest prices here.
- A half day bike tour of Kyoto is a great way to get around and see the sights. You’ll cover more ground than you would by walking and get to burn off some of the food you’ve undoubtedly stuffed your face with during this trip – find more details here.
- A short distance from the city the rural town of Miyama allows you to see a different type of traditional Japanese architecture. On this trip you’ll also get to visit the Amanohashidate sandbar so it’s a nice mix of culture and natural beauty. You can hop in this tour from either Kyoto OR Osaka – see more information here.
- The Itsukushima shrine may not be known too well by name but you’ve probably seen a picture of it at some point if you’ve typed Japan into Pinterest – its an orange arch situated over water. You’ll also check out the Hiroshima peace memorial. This tour also leaves from either Kyoto or Osaka, see more details here.
- Sightseeing in Osaka: There are two options here, the first is to get the local experience by being taken around the city with one (tour with a local guide here) or you can do it your own way in your own time with a hop on, hop off bus pass (see prices here).
- If you love Japanese food take a look at this 3 hour food tour – find more details + prices here.
For more day tour ideas in Japan check our the Get Your Guide website.