What Luggage to Take to Japan?

By James Smith
what luggage to take to japan
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Reading about Japan has likely built a lot of anticipation for your trip.

Perhaps you’ve already mapped out your itinerary!

However, have you thought about your luggage?

This article will help make sure your suitcase fits with airport specifications.

It will also guide you into choosing the best luggage for your travel needs.

Be Wary of Restricted Items

Japanese laws were put in place to prevent certain products from entering the country.

There are several reasons for this, such as the protection of fauna and flora, the prevention of disease outbreaks and public safety.

You are not permitted to bring in fresh produce, vegetation, animal products and its’ derivatives, illegal drugs, weapons, or counterfeit items. Doing so may result in a fine or at worst, an arrest.

Packing Essentials

what to bring packing what luggage to take to japan

Although every traveller’s needs are different, there are some things that are useful for everyone.

Here are some suggestions that you can check off your list.

Shoes

As a tourist in Japan, you will be doing a lot of walking.

So as not to hurt your feet, we advise you to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes.

You should also bring some pairs of socks.

The shoes should be easy to put on and take off. This is because some places require visitors to take off their shoes.

This is usually when going indoors, in someone’s home, in restaurants that have zashiki (low tables with an opening underneath to put your legs and feet), shrines and temples, traditional stores or in a room meant for tea ceremonies.

Clothing

Japanese fashion tends to be more modest than that of North America.

We suggest wearing something comfortable that isn’t too revealing.

Travel Towel

As Japanese bathrooms don’t have air dryers, you may want to pack one.

Many visitors appreciate this when having to wipe and dry their hands after washing.

Travel Bag

When going out and about in Japan, you’ll appreciate having a bag to bring along.

You can pack whatever items you might need for the day.

There is something for everyone.

We will briefly look at each type and its’ advantages.

  1. The messenger bag: An alternative to the traditional backpack, you can choose between handles or a cross-body strap to be hands-free.
  2.  The handbag: These are smaller in size and can be worn over the shoulder.
  3. The backpack: They are compact and are also hands-free.
  4. The folding tote: They resemble duffel bags and are good to carry your shopping and Japanese souvenirs in.

Must-Have Souvenirs

After covering what you should bring to Japan, it only makes sense to discuss what you should bring back home from your trip! Souvenirs will provide you with little keepsakes of your time spend there.

They also make nice gifts to give to friends and family.

Confectionery

Each region of Japan has its’ own specialty candy and sweets.

Some examples of this are the Kit Kat bar, that come in many varieties. There is also the decadent Bulgari chocolate that looks like jewellery.

You must also try Hato Sabure, or dove-shaped cookies.

Toys

A ball and string toy like the kendama or spinning tops like the koma bring back traditional fun and perhaps even a new hobby.

Origami

Fish shaped flags called koinobori and folding fans called sensu make for original gifts.

Baggage requirements

baggage requirements what luggage to take to japan

A rule of thumb when traveling in Japan would be to pack lightly.

It will make getting from point A to point B a lot easier.

This is especially true if you are using public transportation. As it is often crowded and has limited storage space, small or medium-sized luggage would be most convenient.

Baggage is considered small when it is less than 45 inches, or 115 cm.

Medium ones, unlike carry-ons, are less than 25 inches, or 71 cm. You can place them in an overhead locker above you.

When covering longer distances by train, or shinkansen, you can fit your baggage in the overhead locker.

Larger luggage, however, will be brought to another area of the train.

On Japan Rail, commuters are allowed up to two travel cases. Their dimensions must not surpass 250 cm and weight no more than 30 kg each.

Most Reputable Luggage Brands

There are a lot of companies that sell luggage and travel accessories.

One can’t be sure of their quality and durability, though, until after their purchase.

To help you choose which brand you’ll trust to keep your personal items safe, we recommend the following.

They can be found online on Amazon and have great reviews from satisfied customers.

Hard Shell

The Samsonite brand has great products. For a carry-on, consider the Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside 20″ Luggage.

As for medium-sized luggage, try the Samsonite 24-Inch Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner.

Soft Shell

Samsonite also makes soft shell luggage. The first is the Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable Spinner 20 for carry-ons. The second is the Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable Spinner 25 for medium ones.

Another brand that we love for carry-ons is the American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 21. For medium-sized baggage, we’re excited about the American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 25.

Personalizing your Suitcase

Did you know that approximately 80% of suitcases are either black or of another dark colour?

With Japan expecting tens of millions of tourists each year, it can be easy for your luggage to get lost, stolen or mistaken for that of someone else.

To save time and avoid confusion, we’ve thought of ways to make your luggage easier to identify.

Luggage Tags

To replace the standard ones from your airline, choose or make some that are bold, vibrant, and make a statement.

Duct Tape

This can be wrapped around your suitcase handles.

When it is time to retrieve your baggage at the pick-up carousel, yours will be spotted from far away.

Release your Inner Artist

Unique art on your baggage may take some time to create.

However, it will save a lot of time when you are looking for it later. Try using different patterns or even spray paint to make yours easy to find.

Feel free to add stickers, sew-on patches or even caution tape.

Colours

Break out of the monotone with some bright colours.

Include them in your handles, belts, zipper ends and bungee cords.

What to Expect at Customs

language traveling to japan what luggage to take to japan

When entering and departing from Japan, travellers must abide to a standard set of procedures.

A Written Declaration

The purpose of this document is to declare your personal belongings.

It will be provided to you by your flight attendant before landing. Once you arrive at Japanese Customs, you will need to walk down the red or green channel.

The green line is for passengers traveling duty-free and with nothing to declare.

The red, on the other, is for those who have prohibited goods or items that should be taxed.

There is a bank that will allow you to do so. It is situated in the Inspection Zone of the Customs’ area.

Exemptions

Some items are exempted from taxes.

These include clothing and hygiene products for personal use. Other products have allowances.

For alcohol, you are permitted up to three bottles with a total of 760 CC. For tobacco products, you can have up to 500 grams. Please note, however, that as of October 2021, these conditions are subject to change.

As for perfume, you may possess up to 2 ounces, or 56 ml.

Language

You may be wondering if there are English speakers in Japan.

Fortunately, there are! More and more people can speak the language. Also, travellers can rely on signage that is written in English to arrive at their destination.

Usually, being served in English isn’t a problem when conversing with hotel staff or higher-end restaurant employees. You may also get help from locals in the bigger cities.

The only inconvenient you may come across is shyness.

Some may have a more limited understanding of the English language. As a result, they might hold back out of fear or embarrassment of making mistakes.

We believe that one of the best things about travel is connecting with people of other cultures. We encourage you to give a try at Japanese by learning a few words and phrases.

There are also translation apps that can help you get by. 

Not only are they convenient, but they are free, easy to use and facilitate communication. Some apps that are available on both iPhone and Android are the ones listed below:

Bravolol’s Japanese Dictionary

This app is great for travellers or those are starting to learn Japanese.

It is more than a dictionary. You will find hundreds of thousands of words and phrases. 

The audio feature will allow you to understand the pronunciation of them. It is also available offline.

Waygo

This app is different than the last one, because it will read and translaste words from you.

The camera feature will what you want to understand. Signs, notices and menus will no longer be completely unknown to you.

In Conclusion

Traveling to Japan, the land of the rising sun, is the experience of a lifetime.

To make the most of your trip, pack lightly.

Find luggage that is easy to bring in public transport and that will fit the Japan Rail’s dimension requirements.

And lastly, do your research as to what you can and cannot bring into the country. Happy packing! 

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Hi, I'm James Smith, I love traveling and always looking to optimize the traveling life to make it as comfortable and stress-free as possible. I especially love to nerd out about choosing the right luggage.

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