Below are some general packing tips and information.
Japan Packing List & Trip Preparation
Navigating Japan is much easier when you travel light. We’ll be moving around throughout the tour frequently and taking the famous bullet train from destination to destination. Unfortunately Japanese trains and train stations do not cater to travelers with a lot of luggage. What do we define as “a lot of luggage”? Anything more than a small rolling suitcase (airplane carry-on size) and a backpack or duffel.
Japanese train stations themselves are often crowded, and to make matters worse they often don’t have as many elevators or escalators as you might wish, particularly in rural areas. Japanese shinkansen (bullet trains) typically have a small dedicated area for suitcases, but space is at a premium. Fortunately, on most shinkansen the overhead compartment is fairly spacious, and perfect for a small carry-on sized suitcase.
YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE LUGGING AROUND HEAVY LUGGAGE ON AND OFF TRAINS! Please do your best to keep your luggage to 1 medium sized suitcase & 1 smaller carry on size MAX. An additional backpack/camera bag is also OK.
Luggage Forwarding Service: We will be able to make use of Japan’s fantastic luggage forwarding service during the trips. This service is reliable, efficient, and affordable, and means we can relax and travel in comfort without having to drag heavy bags around as we transfer from destination to destination when using the Japan rail system. A suitcase or bag can be sent from one hotel to the next on an overnight basis for between 30-45 USD per transfer and often even less.
Weather in October
October is one of the most pleasant months for traveling in Japan as the weather remains warm, but is not hot and humid anymore. Trees begin turning colors in the northern regions and higher elevations. Chances of rain vary year to year in October but it is not uncommon to have both sunny and rainy days scattered throughout the month.
Average high: 22°C / 70-73 °F Average low: 15°C / 58-62°F
* Takayama will likely be 4-7 degrees cooler than above averages.
Plug Type: Basic plug adapter is all you need. Only need power converter if bringing your own hair dryer. See link below for images and more details:
* You will find that most plugs in Japan are the same as USA but without the 3r ground hole. 95% of the time you will not need any type of plug adapter in Japan.
Japanese Yen (JPY) (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294232-s601/Japan:Banks.And.Money.html) 1 USD = 106 JPY
* Japan is a cash society. Luckily, it is the safest country in the world so it’s okay to carry large amounts of cash with you at all times without the worry of being mugged or held up. Generally there is no need to buy Japanese yen in your home country before your trip, as you will most likely pay a higher commission (about 3%) and a worse exchange rate than you would get at the airports, banks, or ATMs in Japan.
How much $$$ to bring: Japan is not cheap unfortunately, however, the exchange rate is much better than even 6 months ago right now. Lunches will generally range from 15.00-20.00 USD and Dinners from 25.00-40.00 USD. Please bring enough cash to suit your personal spending habits and have a debit/credit card as back up. Credit cards are accepted at some restaurants and establishments in each area we’ll be visiting but CASH is preferred often and important to have handy at all times. Be sure to bring enough extra cash for tipping as well (see below).
We recommend 7.00-10.00 USD per day for our guides and 2-3.00 per day for our drivers. There will be many V2 & 1 day guides leading us on specific tours only, and we recommend tipping these guides 5.00-10.00 USD total. Tipping for luggage porters (1.00 USD per bag) and maid service (2-3.00 USD per day). We will be collecting tip money in an envelope and handing it to the guides for the group (handing cash over without an envelope is considered crass in these situations). If you wish to tip our drivers and guides directly be sure to bring envelopes with you.
* Tipping for everything else is NOT necessary. It is not expected in Japan and the Japanese never do it. Leaving money on the table in a restaurant will usually result in the waiter chasing you down the street to give it back.
A visa is NOT necessary for US passport holders visiting Japan for a short-term stay of less than 90 days with the purpose of tourism and business.
Recommended Packing List
- T shirts
- Long sleeve shirts/sweatshirts
- light weight jacket
- Rain j acket w/ hood
- pants/jeans/ skirts/1 dress (optional)
- 1 pair very comfortable shoes/sneakers for walking
- Layered clothing
Documents (and backup photocopies):
- Travel Insurance cards/confirmation (if you purchased)
- Daypack/small backpack
- Money belt
- Large & small ziplock bags to protect cameras and other technology in rain
- Camera, lenses, extra batteries, extra memory cards and related gear (tripod optional)
- Empty re-useable water bottle/ bladder
- Alarm clock/ cell phone alarm clock
- Earplugs- Especially if sharing room!!
- Your medicine (labeled)
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Power converter/Plug Adapter: Japan (plug adapter only. Only need power converter if bringing your own hair dryer,) *Not needed for most electronics
- After bite
- Personal Contacts Address list (e-mail & emergency contact info)
- Anti-bacterial hand lotion
- Bonine/Motion Sickness Wrist Bands (for car sickness during long drives)
- Sandals/Flip Flops/ Shoes that slip on and off easily
- Toiletries (Toothbrush/paste, Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, etc)
- First aid kit including:
- Prescription medicines
- Mosquito repellent
- Antibiotic cream
- Ace bandage
- Pain reliever
- Lip balm
REMEMBER TO PACK LIGHT!