You’ve got your flights booked to Japan, accommodation locked in but you’re probably thinking what the hell do I need to bring?! My 9 Essential Things You Need for Your First Trip to Japan is my curated list that will help you have a stress free and enjoyable trip.
For those of you still in the planning stage check out my Step by Step Guide on Planning a Trip to Japan, it will help you decide what time of year to go, how much you should budget for and lots of free things in Japan!
#1 – How to Travel In Japan Without Speaking Japanese E-book
This excellent e-book created by Rob Dwyer from the Real Japan is all about getting around the country without speaking an ounce of Japanese. He has great tips on how to catch trains, order at restaurants and go sightseeing. A real must have if you are daunted by the language barrier!
#2 – Sim Card or Wifi Dongle
You can pre-order a sim card or wifi dongle before your trip and easily pick it up at the airport. Data is vital when getting around Japan because you will most likely be using Google Maps all day. Free wifi is virtually non existent in Japan so don’t leave for your trip without booking one!
#3 – Powerbank
A powerbank is like a little metal brick that allows you to recharge your phone, camera, wifi dongle multiple times throughout the day. Make sure you get a big one because if you’re like me you’re going to need to do multiple charges in one day. This item is perfect for those of you who get snap happy on holidays and know you drain your battery quickly.
#4 – Hand Towel, Antibacterial Gel, Tissues and Plastic Bag
You’re probably thinking is Jasmine an extreme germaphobe? I’m actually not but the reason I’ve listed these items is because public bathrooms in Japan don’t have hand towel paper or soap! These items are handy to have so you can probably wash and clean up without walking around with wet hands. It’s also hard to find a rubbish bin when you are out sightseeing so having a plastic bag with you comes in handy to put all your bits and pieces in throughout the day.
#5 – Google Translate and Google Maps
For those of you who don’t already have these apps installed on your phone do it now! They were lifesavers when I was in Japan and will make your trip so much easier. Google Translate has a camera function, perfect for live translating restaurant menus and food labels. Google Maps is great for navigating the train system in Japan, even tells you what platform you have to go to.
#6 – Good Backpack and Walking Shoes
You’re going to be doing so much walking and catching trains in Japan that you’re going to have to invest in quality walking shoes and backpack. Your feet will thank me after walking for 10+ hours a day. I also invested in a camera backpack, the Lowpro Anti Theft backpack, which has a proper back structure so it doesn’t feel heavy at all on my back.
#7 – Know where your country’s Embassy is and the nearest doctor
It’s important to plan for the worst so in case something does happen you’re not freaking out overseas. Open Google Maps and save your country’s embassy, so in case you lose your passport you know exactly where to go. Same with if you get really sick or injured, knowing where a hospital or English speaking doctor comes in handy.
#8 – Japan Rail Pass or Tourist Discount Passes
The most asked question regarding holidays to Japan is ‘Do I need a Japan Rail Pass?’. For those of you planning to see 3 or more cities (say Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka) then yes the Japan Rail Pass is for you! If you are planning on only seeing one or two, or want to save money by not having a full Japan Rail Pass for the whole trip then I can recommend so many tourist passes. My complete guide to Discounts and Passes for Japan lists every single tourist pass available in Japan which gives you things like free all day public transport and free sightseeing entry.
#9 – Don’t Rush It
Going to Japan can be so exciting and overwhelming that it’s easy to run around and try to see and do as much as possible.
This is my biggest regret for my first trip and I wish I had taken a step back and enjoyed the sights more.
So remember after you take your photo, take a step back and enjoy beautiful Japan.
I hope you found my 9 Essential Things You Need for Your First Trip to Japan helpful. Let me know in the comments what you will be packing on your trip.