Essential Japan Travel and Living Products: Your Ultimate Guide to a Smooth Experience
Whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan or have recently made the Land of the Rising Sun your new home, you’re in for an incredible adventure. My family and I relocated to Japan in August, and we’ve been captivated by the beauty, culture, and uniqueness of this country ever since. However, we quickly realized that there are countless little things that can significantly enhance your experience when living or traveling in Japan. To help you make the most of your time here, we’ve curated a list of essential products that will simplify your daily life, whether you’re a tourist exploring the vibrant streets of Tokyo or a resident navigating the city’s hustle and bustle. Discover these must-have items that will make your journey in Japan more comfortable and enjoyable. Check out our Amazon shopping lists (affiliate link) to get ready for your visit to this enchanting destination.
Day Bag for Tokyo
In your day bag, it’s essential to have a carefully curated selection of items that can make your outings in Japan more comfortable and convenient. Many of these can be found on our Amazon Japan shopping list, saving you the hassle of hunting them down in local stores.
- Small Towel: A compact, quick-drying towel is a must-have. It’s incredibly handy for wiping your face and drying your hands, especially when you’re on the go. Look for a microfiber towel for its absorbency and space-saving properties.
- Hand Sanitizer: Keeping your hands clean and germ-free is crucial, especially when exploring crowded places. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer to ensure your hygiene while you’re out and about.
- Portable Fan (for Summer): Japan’s summers can get hot and humid. A portable fan can be a lifesaver, providing a refreshing breeze wherever you go. Look for one that’s compact and rechargeable for added convenience.
- Compact Umbrella: Japan’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to have an umbrella with you at all times. Opt for a foldable, lightweight umbrella that can protect you from both the sun and rain.
- Coin Wallet: Japanese currency includes coins of various denominations, and you’ll use them frequently. A coin wallet with organized compartments will make it easier to handle your yen without fumbling around.
- Portable Shopping Bags: Japan is eco-conscious, and many stores charge for plastic bags or offer none at all. Carrying reusable shopping bags not only helps the environment but also saves you money. Consider foldable, compact bags that can fit in your day bag when not in use.
- Convertible Bag: If your bag can convert into a backpack, ensure it has handles as well. It’s considered polite to carry your bag by the handles when you’re in crowded trains or public spaces, as wearing a backpack can inconvenience others.
- Sunscreen: Japan’s sun can indeed be intense, so it’s crucial to protect your skin. Carry a small bottle of sunscreen with a high SPF rating to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.
- Small Trash Bag: While Japan is known for its cleanliness, you’ll notice the scarcity of public trash cans. Having a small bag or pouch to collect and carry your trash until you find a suitable disposal point is a responsible and considerate practice.
- Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is essential, especially during hot and humid days. Carry a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day. Many places in Japan have clean and safe drinking water fountains or potable tap water.
- Kindle (or E-Reader): A Kindle or any e-reader can be your entertainment companion during extended transit rides or moments of waiting. It’s a lightweight and space-saving way to carry a library of books, magazines, and more to keep you engaged while on the go.
- Handwipes: Convenient handwipes allow you to maintain cleanliness by wiping your hands and surfaces, especially after enjoying a meal.
- Portable Charger: Ensure your devices, especially your phone for translations and maps, stay powered up throughout your travels.
By including these essentials in your day bag, you’ll be well-prepared for the adventures and surprises that await you in Japan.
Japan Travel Books
I’m a firm believer in the timeless allure of travel books, despite the wealth of information available online today. There’s something special about flipping through the pages of a well-written travel narrative, exploring a destination through the eyes of a seasoned traveler, and immersing oneself in the culture, history, and stories of a place. While the internet offers convenience, travel books provide a curated and immersive experience that can be hard to replicate. In our Amazon Japan list, you’ll find a carefully selected collection of travel books catering to both children and adults. These books are not only informative but also inspire a sense of adventure and curiosity, making them perfect companions for your journey through Japan.
- Tokyo Maze: 42 Walks in and around the Japanese Capital“ by Judith Clancy: This book is a must-have for anyone exploring Tokyo. With its detailed walking routes, it helps you discover hidden gems, historical sites, and the vibrant neighborhoods of the city. Plus, its reliable food recommendations add a flavorful dimension to your Tokyo adventures.
- “Lost Japan“ by Alex Kerr: This thought-provoking book offers a unique perspective on Japan’s changing landscape and culture. Alex Kerr’s deep insights and observations provide a rich understanding of Japan’s past and present.
- “Onsen of Japan: Japan’s Best Hot Springs and Bath Houses“ by Steve John Burgess: Onsen (hot springs) are an integral part of Japanese culture and a wonderful way to relax and rejuvenate. This guidebook offers valuable insights into the best onsen experiences across Japan, helping you navigate this unique cultural tradition.
- “The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture“ by Roger J. Davies and Osamu Ikeno: This insightful book delves into the intricacies of Japanese culture, offering valuable perspectives on the mindset, customs, and social norms that shape Japan today.
- “Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo“ by Matthew Amster-Burton: For food enthusiasts, this memoir takes you on a culinary journey through Tokyo. It’s a delightful exploration of Japanese cuisine, street food, and dining culture.
- “A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations“ by Pico Iyer: Pico Iyer’s reflections on Japan provide a fresh and thought-provoking perspective for both newcomers and long-time residents. His keen observations and deep insights offer a unique take on this enigmatic country.
Essential Tokyo Apps
When traveling in Tokyo, having the right apps at your fingertips can significantly enhance your experience and help you navigate this bustling metropolis with ease. Here’s a list of must-have travel apps that will assist you in exploring Tokyo and making the most of your visit:
- Google Maps: An absolute essential for navigating Tokyo’s intricate streets and public transportation system. It provides real-time directions, transit information, and even offline maps for when you’re in areas with limited internet connectivity. Don’t forget to download local area maps for offline use before you arrive.
- Google Translate: Language barriers can be challenging, but Google Translate comes to the rescue. Use it to translate text, speech, and even images, making communication in Tokyo easier.
- WhatsApp: Stay connected with friends and family using WhatsApp, a widely used messaging app in Japan and worldwide. This is a gret way to stay in touch with friends and famly back home too.
- LINE: LINE is another popular messaging app in Japan. It’s great for communicating with locals and fellow travelers during your stay.
- Nerv: Stay informed and safe in Tokyo with real-time updates on weather, emergencies, and public transportation disruptions.
- Time Buddy: Easily coordinate schedules and time zones with this handy app, ensuring you’re on track for your Tokyo adventures and any international communications.
- Happy Cow: Discover vegan and vegetarian dining options in Tokyo with the Happy Cow app, making it easy to find delicious and eco-friendly meals during your travels.
Booking Tours in Japan: Exploring Effortlessly
While navigating Japan independently is entirely possible, there are instances when joining a guided tour can be a more efficient and enriching way to experience the country. Guided tours not only provide valuable insights into Japan’s culture and history but also ensure you don’t miss out on hidden gems. If you’re considering booking tours during your visit, here are some excellent platforms to explore:
Get Your Guide: Get Your Guide is a trusted platform that offers a wide range of tours and activities in Japan. From city tours to cultural experiences and outdoor adventures, you’ll find a diverse selection of options to suit your interests. Some of the links provided may be affiliate links, which means we earn a small commission if you book through them. I frequently use Get Your Guide for experineces in Japan. Instagram is a great way to see the things I’ve done through them.
Klook: Klook is another reputable platform for booking tours and experiences in Japan. It provides access to activities, transportation options, and even mobile Wi-Fi rentals. Klook offers convenient booking and often includes skip-the-line access to popular attractions. This is the best way we have found to book things that require tickets in Japan using a U.S. Credit Card. (Example: Disney!)
These platforms make it easy to discover and book tours that align with your interests and schedule. Whether you’re looking to explore historical landmarks, savor local cuisine, or embark on scenic day trips, you’ll find plenty of options to enhance your Japanese adventure.
As my family and I continue to explore and settle into our life in Japan, we’re committed to sharing our experiences and insights with you. Our goal is to make your journey through this incredible country as smooth and enjoyable as possible. We’ll keep updating this guide with valuable tips, recommendations, and resources to help you navigate Japan with confidence. Whether you’re planning a visit or have already made Japan your home, we hope our knowledge and experiences will enhance your adventure. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey, and here’s to many more unforgettable moments in the Land of the Rising Sun.