Boy walks down pedestrian street in Tokyo, Japan. Restaurants on either side and a few other pedestrians are on the street.

Packing List for 10 Days in Japan with a 9-Year Old

Are you heading to Japan with your child and trying to decide how to pack?  There are many choices to make and you may be wondering:

  • Should I bring just a carry-on? 
  • Will my child be able to carry his/her own luggage?
  • Are there a lot of steps in Japan?
  • What type of clothing is appropriate in Japan?

I’ve just returned from a trip to Japan with my almost-10 year old son.  We spent 10 days in Japan and were in Tokyo (7 days), Kyoto (1 day), Osaka (1 day at Universal Studios Japan), and Hiroshima (1 day).  We stayed 4 nights in a basic hotel in Tokyo, 3 nights in a traditional ryokan in Kyoto, and 3 more nights in Tokyo.  There were two full travel days on either end of the trip (we flew from Europe to Japan and back).  It was a busy trip, but we both loved it!

I spent a lot of time researching how to pack for this trip, so I thought I’d pay it forward.  Hopefully this list and some of my comments will help eliminate any worries or questions you’re having about packing for your family trip to Japan. 

Obviously, the time of year you travel will dictate what you need to bring (for example, if you need to bring warm clothing, sandals, etc).  We traveled in late-April and saw temperatures in the low-teens to mid-twenties (Celsius), or mid-50s to upper-70s (Fahrenheit).  We did have a couple of days with rain and light drizzle.

On the list, I’ll include:

  • General items to pack
  • Clothing I packed for myself and my 9-year-old son
  • Toiletries
  • Miscellaneous things to pack
  • What we packed for the plane
  • My packing regrets from this trip
  • A few more Japan packing tips for families

General Items for Pack for Japan

Boy sitting on bench in park with large green trees in Hiroshima, Japan on a cloudy day.
We loved having our Kindles with us for the evenings or during the day at parks
  • Mini First-Aid Kit – Yes, you can go to a doctor or hospital in Japan, but I was still happy to have my trusted supplies in my first aid kit (also for the flight). It had chewable Children’s Tylenol, Neosporin, band-aids, a thermometer, and antiseptic wipes. 

Heads Up:  Japan is very strict on bringing medicines into the country, so be sure to check the Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare site to make sure you can bring yours in.

Good To Know:  You can get basic medicines at the pharmacy in Japan.  I used Google Translate to read the packaging, but you can also talk to the pharmacist. 

  • Adapter for electronics – Japan has the same plugs as the US, but we traveled from Italy so we needed an adapter.  Some hotels in Japan have adapters, but I was glad we brought ours because I could charge on trains and planes.  Two of our hotels also had USB (C or A) wall outlets.  If you need to buy one, you can find them at shops at the airport or stores like Don Quijote (kind of like a small, cramped, crowded Wal-Mart or Target).
  • Phone and charger –  We used my phone for directions (thanks Google Maps!) and for communicating with family back home.   I also took all of my photos with my iPhone.  I used my external charger daily. 
  • Kindle – My son and I each brought our Kindles and we used them daily before bed.  We also brought them out with us a few times and read on park benches. 
  • Credit Card and Debit Card – I used contactless pay on my watch and my phone, but I was glad to have my physical cards as backups, and every once in awhile the shop needed to use the physical card for payment.  I used my debit to withdraw cash at the airport and 7-11s to add Japanese Yen to our SUICA cards.  I preloaded my son’s SUICA card so he could have some independence with purchases.
  • E-SIM or Portable WI-FI:  You’ll need one or the other (unless you choose an international plan for your phone from your home country).  I chose an E-SIM from Ubigi.  I also looked at Airalo E-SIMs but the ‘word on the street’ while researching said that Ubigi’s service was better in Japan.  I bought the 10GB, 30-day plan and still had a couple of gigabytes left at the end of our trip.  I did use WI-FI in hotels in the evenings.
  • Important Documents – Passports, important medical prescriptions (just in case), travel insurance documents, visas (if needed), printouts of tickets for sites (use as a backup even if you have them on your phone) etc.

Clothing to Pack for Japan

Mom hugs son in front of Toyville Trolley Park in DisneySea theme park in Tokyo, Japan.
My son and I sporting our limited (but comfy) wardrobes at DisneySea

As someone who helps travelers visit Italy, I always recommend going for comfort when choosing clothing for a trip.  I wasn’t concerned with ‘looking like a local.’  Rather, I wanted to make sure we were being respectful of the local population and culture.

My main questions when packing clothing for Japan were:

  • Will I do laundry (myself or have the hotel do it) or pack enough for the entire trip? I wanted to pack very light, so we planned on doing our own laundry.  We did have access to coin laundry during the trip, but I just washed in the sink when needed.
  • Will I be dressing up or spending the trip in casual clothing? I definitely didn’t win any fashion awards in Japan, but I dressed respectfully in comfortable and casual clothing.  My son wore comfortable clothing that he wears at home.
  • Do I need more than one pair of shoes?  I’m a big fan of HOKA, so I ordered a pair for our trip, but they ended up being too narrow.  Too late to get a new pair, I chose to bring my well-worn Autry sneakers (they’re kind of like Adidas Stan Smiths).  They were great, but I missed the ‘floating on air’ feel of Hoyas.  I also brought a pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals, but I never wore them.  My son traveled with a pair of Adidas athletic sneakers and was fine.
  • Are there any cultural considerations?  I knew we’d be entering temples in Japan, so I made sure I carried extra socks in our bags for when we had to remove our shoes, but we didn’t need them.  I also made sure to dress modestly (nothing super low-cut, or tight – like leggings with a short shirt). 
  • What will the weather be like on our trip?  Our packing list for late-spring is much different than a summer or winter packing list!  I did see some rain forecast, but decided we’d play it by ear and purchase an umbrella if needed.  We did buy a 500 Yen umbrella at a combini (convenience store) and we ended up bringing it home.  I did find that A/C was on inside buildings – so I was happy to carry a layer in my backpack.

Here’s my clothing-specific packing list for my 9-year-old for our 10-day trip (not including travel days):

  • T-Shirt x 2 – Two black cotton t-shirts (only needed one), two soccer jerseys, one long-sleeve grey t-shirt (didn’t use)
  • Pants x 2 – Jeans and grey sweatpants (comfortable pair of travel pants)
  • Pajamas x 0 – Japanese hotels usually give you pajamas, our first hotel didn’t so he wore a t-shirt as pajamas.
  • Fleece – For the plane, but he ended up wearing it daily as his jacket
  • Jacket – At the last minute, I threw in his light down Patagonia jacket, he never wore it
  • Underwear x 3
  • Socks x 3 
  • Sneakers x 1

My (mamma) packing list for Japan:

  • T-shirt x 3 – One black and two grey t-shirts; I knew I’d want to buy at least one in Japan;  I used one as pajamas in our first hotel
  • Blouse x 1 – Short-sleeve white patterned
  • Pants x 2 – Loose, denim capris and a pair of black, crop LEVIs
  • Workout outfit x 2 – I brought one tank top and a pair of athletic shorts (didn’t use either of them)
  • Jacket and zip-up hoodie – I knew I needed something warm for the flight, but I wasn’t sure if a coat would be too heavy and bulky for the spring weather.  I ended up bringing a lightweight army-green utility jacket and a thin zip up NIKE hoodie.
  • Compression socks – If I fly without them, my legs and ankles swell up like overstuffed sausages. I also wore them a couple of days in Tokyo.
  • Shoes – Birkenstock Arizona sandals and Autry sneakers (Hokas would’ve been the best)
  • Underwear x 3 
  • Bras x 2
  • Socks x 3
  • Hair ties x 1

Good To Know:  I didn’t pack sunglasses or a sun hat, but if we’d traveled any closer to summer, I would’ve packed a wide-brim hat for sun protection and a sundress from Athleta.

Toiletries to Pack for Japan

I knew shopping for and using Japanese toiletries would be fun for my son, so we brought the basics and spent about 30 minutes at the convenience store on the first day buying toiletries.  It was a lot of fun and I’d do the same thing again.

Here’s what I packed:

  • Makeup – Mascara and Sun Bum chapstick
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription medication
  • Deodorant
  • Travel size brush – didn’t need it as all hotels provided plastic brushes in the amenity kit
  • Contact lenses and contact solution
  • Dental floss
  • Face cream

Note: I forgot to bring nail polish but it wasn’t a problem because there are so many fun colors in Japan.

Here’s what we bought on our first day in Japan.  I was excited to try some of these products after researching them pre-trip:

  • Sunscreen – Biore all the way!
  • Face wash – Senka Face Whip
  • Lotion

Good To Know:  Most hotels provide toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.  You can ask your hotels pre-trip and adjust your packing accordingly.

Helpful Tip: Be sure to try the Japanese wash cloths – they gently exfoliate and make your skin feel so soft!  I brought a few home.

Miscellaneous Items to Pack for Japan

  • Watch – I brought my Apple watch.
  • Jewelry – I kept my earrings in and wore my wedding band and a small necklace. 
  • Eyeglasses – I used them at night in our hotel room.
  • Journal and pens – I didn’t pack these because I knew we’d buy them in one of Japan’s amazing shops!
  • iPad and Nintendo Switch – For our flights and sometimes at night in the hotels.  My son loved having his Switch so he could try out new games he got in Tokyo.
  • AirTag – I was a little worried about losing my son, so I had an AirTag in his backpack, just in case.  Luckily, I never needed to use it.
  • Travel umbrella – I didn’t pack one, and we ended up buying one at a combini, there are also a ton of compact umbrellas for sale at stores like Tokyu Hands.
  • Chargers and cords for electronics

My Japan Packing Regrets

Mom hugs son and they hold their carry-on luggage at the Florence, Italy airport.
My son and I at the Florence airport at the beginning of our trip with our backpacks and carry-on luggage

I don’t have many packing regrets for our trip to Japan.  We packed really light – just two small backpacks (North Face Recon and Rick Steves small pack) and two small carry-on roller bags (Samsonite and Travel Pro – both half-empty on the way there, and I brought a small Patagonia duffle bag for souvenirs). 

We had plenty of clothing, but if you don’t want to do laundry, you should pack accordingly.  Keep in mind you can also shop in Japan for fun clothing or basics from shops like Uniqlo.

I was happy to have the empty duffle bag to bring souvenirs home.

I didn’t end up needing the Birkenstock Arizona sandals. 

I wish I’d brought a card game for us to play in the evening at the hotel.

All in all, I’m really happy with how we packed.  Having minimal, lightweight luggage was key!

Our Packing List for the Plane

Our journey to Japan took awhile, but it was smooth.  Our travel included:

  • Drive to Florence Peretola airport (15 minutes)
  • Fly Florence to Rome (50 minutes)
  • Layover Rome (2 hours, 10 minutes)
  • Fly Rome to Tokyo Haneda airport (12 hours, 30 minutes)
  • Tokyo Metro to Tokyo city center (45 minutes)

My son and I each had our own carry-on (small and light) and small backpack. 

My son’s (Rick Steves) backpack held:

  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Nintendo switch
  • Package of candy
  • Water bottle
  • Fleece

My backpack (North Face Recon) held:

  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Ipad
  • Fleece
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Extra snacks (nuts, fruit)
  • Glasses
  • Medicine and contact lenses
  • Small first aid kit
  • Water bottle

A Few More Japan Family Packing Tips

Man puts luggage in above-seat storage on bullet train in Japan.
If you have small carry-on luggage, you can store it above the seats on the trains (see the teal suitcase on the right)

If you’re bringing a suitcase bigger than a carry-on, look into using luggage transfer services.  Japan has an amazing system that allows you to easily and inexpensively have your luggage forwarded from your current hotel to your next one (and even to other places like the airport).  Keep in mind that not all hotels do this (our first hotel had e-check-in, most AirBnBs don’t offer it).

If you’re traveling on Japanese trains with large luggage, you need to reserve a seat that includes a space for it.  We didn’t need to do this, but it’s really important to reserve for large luggage (vs just showing up and trying to find a spot for your large bag). 

If your kids (or you) have certain toiletries or medicines that they prefer, be sure to bring them.   We were flexible and excited to shop for new products, but I know that’s not always the case.

You can find anything you need in Japan, but that doesn’t mean you want to spend time looking for it.  Yes, it’s likely Japan has what you’re looking for, but with the language barrier and cultural differences, it may feel like a scavenger hunt to find something simple.  For example, bring the travel adapter if you need one. 

And that’s my Japan packing list for me and my 9-10 year old son! It’s a long one, and you may not need everything on it for your trip (or you may need much more), but hopefully it will help you as you plan for your visit to Japan. Have an amazing trip!

Looking for more on travel to Japan? Check out
9 Reasons to Visit Japan with Kids
Packing List for 10 Days in Japan with a 9-Year-Old
Souvenirs from Japan – What We Brought Back

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