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What to Pack for Japan: 14 Essential Items

Like any destination, packing for a trip to Japan comes down to special considerations dependent on the season and exact city you'll be visiting. But, that said, whether you're visiting Tokyo, the country's buzzing metropolitan capital, or Northern Honshū, a largely rural, mountainous province, there are a few items you'll need no matter what. From comfortable walking shoes and layer-able tops to universal travel adapters and expandable tote bags, here's where you'll want to start.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

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Madewell Sandwashed Maxi T-Shirt Dress

Japan is a rather conservative country, so you'll want to pack smart-casual outfits that show respect for the nation's customs. This fuss-free jersey knit dress is a great option as it's easy to pack and wear.

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Porter-Yoshida & Co. Flex 2Way Duffle Bag

If you're an over-packer, you're going to want to kick the habit before your trip to Japan. The country's Shinkansen trains may offer high-speed commutes between cities like Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka, but they don't cater well to travelers with lots of luggage—especially large rolling cases. This convertible bag from Japanese-brand Porter-Yoshida & Co. can be carried as a duffle or worn over your shoulder.

RELATED: 14 of Our Favorite Duffel Bags for Spring Travel

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Mianshe House Slippers

Whether you're staying in a hotel, hostel, or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), you'll quickly realize there's a clear distinction between indoor and outdoor footwear in Japan. Outside of accommodations, some attractions—like shrines and temples—also enforce a no-shoe policy, so you'll want some cozy house slippers on hand. These unisex cotton slippers are ideal as they're feather-light and feature memory foam insoles.

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J. Crew Merino Wrap Sweater

Weather varies season to season in Japan, and—outside of summer—it can get chilly, so it's smart to pack layers. This wrap sweater is a great go-to as you can throw it on over a dress or pair it with any color denim.

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Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag

If you're anything like us, you'll probably get quite a bit of shopping in before you depart. Rather than wasting a bunch of plastic bags after you stow all your purchases away in your suitcase, opt for this reusable tote from Baggu which easy folds up and can fit in your purse or backpack.

RELATED: The Best Time to Visit Japan: A Month-by-Month Guide

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Nordstrom Modal Silk Blend Scarf

No matter where we're traveling, we pack a light scarf. Even if it's not chilly out, the travel accessory works wonders as an airplane pillow, blanket, shawl, and more.

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Everlane The Long-Sleeve Box-Cut Pocket Tee

Packing layers is the key to conquering any country you're visiting. Everlane's boxy long sleeve tee is ultra-soft and easy to pack.

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m0851 BP 80 Small Folded Corner Backpack

For days when you're largely out and about, you'll want a sturdy backpack with ample room for your camera, wallet, and other daily essentials. This black leather bag from Montreal-based brand m0851 features an expandable main compartment and plenty of pockets for organizing all of your belongings.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Travel Like a Jetsetter

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Everlane The Mid-Rise Skinny Jean

If one thing's certain, it's that the Japanese know how to dress well. But even so, you won't have to purchase a whole new wardrobe for your trip, a few pairs of smart jeans and nice tops will work just fine.

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Chuck Taylor ‘Shoreline’ Sneaker

Like NYC, Paris, and London, Japan's cities are largely pedestrian, so you'll be in need of comfy shoes for walking to and from trains, shops, hotels, and more. These crisp white Chucks are fitted with an elastic heel and tongue—a super covetable feature given you may have to remove your shoes before entering some ryokans, restaurants, and shrines.

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Le Specs Zephyr Deux Sunglasses

Like any destination, Japan has its sunny seasons. Shield your eyes and add a chic element to your outfit with these glare-reducing round frames from Le Specs.

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Lauren Manoogian Capote Coat

If you're traveling during chillier months, you'll certainly want to have a long coat in tow. This plush knit open-front coat from Lauren Manoogian is an ideal pick if you're looking to blend in; you'll find the Japanese are fond of dark and neutral colors.

RELATED: 12 Versatile Women's Jackets

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Saunorch Universal Travel Power Adapter

Depending on where you're visiting from, your electronics may require a converter/adapter. Really, no matter your destination, it's a good rule of thumb to keep one of these guys handy. Saunorch's travel adapter comes with four USB ports and a universal AC socket and is suitable for use in more than 150 countries including Japan.

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Breda Visser Watch

Unlike the metro in NYC, Japan's high-speed bullet trains run on a very regimented schedule. Keep yourself on time with this minimalist square watch from Breda Visser.

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