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What to Wear in Japan: Packing List + What NOT to Wear!

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If you’re wondering what to wear in Japan, this is the guide you need! We’re going over what to wear in each season and how to create a perfect capsule wardrobe. We’re also divulging some items you should not wear in Japan.

What to wear in Japan bamboo grove

Trying to decide what clothes to pack for your trip to Japan can be overwhelming. We’ve traveled to Japan several times so I get it.

You don’t want to overpack, but you want to be prepared for all occasions and weather you might encounter.

You want to be comfortable for long travel days, but you also want to look cute in photos.

And you don’t want to wear clothing that is considered inappropriate or attracts unwanted attention.

It’s a lot to think about!

But don’t worry, if you’re wondering what to wear in Japan, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re breaking it down by season, since the weather and temperatures vary quite a bit throughout the year. 

And perhaps even more importantly, we’re sharing what not to wear in Japan, because there are some cultural taboos that you’ll definitely want to be aware of as you’re packing.

What to Wear in Japan Guide


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Hold up! We created a whole guide to all the things you need to pack for Japan (in addition to clothes!). Plus, we even have a (totally free!) packing list you can download!

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What to wear in Japan

In this section, we’re going to discuss specific items that will work well in Japan in most seasons.

But before we dive into the pieces you’ll want to pack, let’s first go over some guidelines to think about as you choose each item of clothing.

Top 3 rules for what to wear in Japan

What to wear in Japan shrine

This is what I’d consider the top guidelines when it comes to thinking about what to wear in Japan:

  1. Think of your clothing as a capsule wardrobe. Pack items that work well with each other so you can create multiple outfits from fewer individual pieces. You want to be prepared with layers, but you don’t want to overpack. Trust me.
  2. Avoid revealing clothing. Low necklines and tight clothes can be considered inappropriate in Japan. This is especially true when visiting shrines and temples. Jump down to see what not to wear in Japan.
  3. Strike a balance between comfort and class. Japanese people tend to look put together when they go out in public. You’ll want to be comfortable in whatever you’re wearing because you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking. But you also want to look nice. Not like you just rolled out of bed and grabbed your coziest sweats.
  4. Pack only enough clothes for 2 weeks. Even if your trip is longer, aim to only pack 2 weeks worth of clothes and plan to do laundry while you’re on your trip. More than 2 weeks worth of clothes will be too much.

Now that you have those “rules” in mind, let’s dive into specific items:

Women’s shirts 

Arakurayama Sengen Park Mount Fuji Japan

You’ll want to pack a variety of types of shirts for your time in Japan – both casual and dressier, and short sleeve as well as long sleeves.

In general, you’ll want to choose shirts that don’t have a revealing neckline. You also won’t want to show your stomach. So unless you’re pairing it with a high-waisted skirt or pants, leave your crop tops at home.

Short sleeve shirts

What to wear in Japan
  • Any short sleeve shirt you’re comfortable in works great. Choose a variety of “nicer” ones and more casual ones.
  • This t-shirt bodysuit is loose-fitting and will stay tucked in, even when you bend over to remove your shoes.
  • This button up shirt can be dressed up or down.

Long sleeve shirts

What to wear in Japan Nara

Men’s shirts 

Kanmangafuchi Abyss Nikko Japan

Choose moisture-wicking fabrics in the summertime and shirts that can be dressed up or down. Button up shirts are a good way to layer and add warmth.

Short sleeve shirts

What to wear in Japan

Any short sleeve shirt you’re comfortable in works great. Choose a variety of “nicer” ones and more casual ones.

Long sleeve shirts

What to wear in Japan Kyoto

Button up shirts

Women’s pants

What to wear in Japan autumn
I liked these comfy and versatile joggers for wearing in Japan. They worked in both warm and cool temps as well as casual and nicer settings.

When it comes to pants, opt for comfort and try to stay away from anything that is too tight-fitting. 

Japanese women often wear loose trouser-style pants. Choose breathable fabrics, like linen or cotton in the summer, and thicker styles in the colder months.

My pants recommendations: 

What about wearing jeans in Japan? 

What to wear in Japan jeans Tokyo

Many forums online claim that Japanese people don’t wear jeans. While I’d say they aren’t as common as in North America, we saw many local people wearing jeans.

I will mention that we felt like we saw more jeans on our most recent trip than we had on previous trips, so perhaps they are gaining popularity.

I personally would recommend packing a pair of jeans if that’s what you’re comfortable in. However, it is a good idea to bring other pants options too.

Can I wear leggings in Japan?

This is a personal decision, but leggings are not commonly worn as pants in Japan (unlike in many Western countries). Leggings are considered to be revealing (since they are tight), so they may attract some unwanted attention.

Unless you are wearing a very loose fitting shirt that covers your backside, I’d recommend against wearing leggings (even though I practically live in them at home).

Men’s pants

What to wear in Japan for men Tokyo

Similar to what we recommended in the women’s section, choose pants that are comfortable for you. I think wearing jeans is fine, but I’d also recommend bringing other options too.

Ben is obsessed with these pants that are super comfy (and good for hiking) but also look really nice and can be dressed up. He brought 3 pairs of these on our last trip to Japan and they were the only pants he wore! 

Long, flowy skirts

Japan

Skirts are very popular amongst Japanese women, and I love that this can be a staple item during just about any season. 

They can be dressed up or down, and you can style one skirt in many ways, making it a perfect piece for a capsule wardrobe.

What to wear in Japan

While short skirts aren’t necessarily uncommon (especially in Tokyo), I would lean toward long, flowy (not tight) skirts as they will be more comfortable on long walking days and when you’re sitting down in public transport. Additionally, you’ll be bending over often to take on and off your shoes, so a short skirt isn’t ideal (in my opinion).

My skirt recommendations

What to wear in Japan
  • I wore this skirt in Japan and loved the mid-calf length. (pictured above)
  • I packed this maxi skirt and liked pairing it with a long sleeve shirt for cooler days.
  • I own this skirt and think it would be perfect for spring or summer in Japan.
  • I wore this mid-length corduroy skirt along with fleece-lined leggings when I was in Japan during the fall.
  • This satin skirt almost looks as if it was inspired by a kimono, and could be really pretty in pictures (as long as you don’t mind a high slit).

What about shorter skirts?

Short skirts are totally acceptable in Japan (a lot of younger women wear them). Personally, I think longer skirts or ones that hit around knee-length are more comfortable when you’ll be traveling and walking a lot. (Not to mention bending over to take your shoes on and off!) Pairing them with tights gives you a little more coverage, and fleece-lined tights keep you cozy even in the wintertime.

Tips for wearing skirts in Japan

What to wear in Japan Shirakawago
Pairing this shorter corduroy skirt with fleece-lined tights made it a cozy outfit on a chilly day that still looked put together.
  1. I highly recommend wearing a pair of bike shorts underneath your skirt. It will be more comfortable when you’re sitting down on public transportation. Plus, this will prevent chafing, which would be pretty uncomfortable on a long day of walking. These are my all-time (cheap!) favorite bike shorts.
  2. Tights can also be really nice to wear underneath skirts for more coverage or warmth. If you will be traveling during a cooler time of the year, I highly recommend a pair of fleece-lined tights, like these. They will keep you so warm! You’ll feel like you’re wearing sweatpants, but you’ll look much more put together.

Casual dress

What to wear in Japan Takayama

I personally prefer the idea of bringing a few different skirts so I can style it more ways, making several different outfits. 

But if dresses are more your style, opt for one that hits around or below your knees, is flowy instead of tight, and covers your shoulders and neckline.

What to wear in Japan
You can always wear a plain t-shirt under a dress that is sleeveless or has a lower neckline to make it more Japan-friendly, as shown in this picture!

My dress recommendation:

Insider tip: Just like with skirts, I’d highly recommend wearing biker shorts underneath dresses too.

Sweater

What to wear in Japan

Unless you’re traveling during the summer months, bringing a sweater is a good idea as you’ll want a warm layer to throw on.

Women’ sweaters

Men’s sweaters

What to wear in Japan

Jackets

What to wear in Japan

If you are traveling to Japan during any season other than summer, I recommend having a couple of different jacket options for different occasions and purposes. 

a) Fashionable jacket

What to wear in Japan jacket

You may want something light and fashionable, like a leather jacket or a bomber that can be worn to dinner or when it’s not too cold. 

Women:

Men:

Nagano Japan
  • Ben bought this suede bomber jacket before our most recent trip to Japan, and he is obsessed with it. (Such high quality!)

b) Trench coat / Rain coat

What to wear in Japan jackets
During this trip to Japan, we had a lot of outdoor adventures and hiking on our itinerary, so small packable raincoats worked great. However, if you’re not doing a lot of hiking or outdoorsy stuff, a trench-style jacket may be a better pick.

Trench coats are very common in Japan, so this could be another one to add to the mix, or a waterproof jacket if you’ll be traveling during monsoon season.

Trench-style coats:

Rain jackets:

c) Puffy jacket

What to wear in Japan autumn

During winter, fall, and early spring, you’ll also want a puffer jacket because it’ll keep you warm and they pack down really well. 

Womens: 

Men’s:

Comfortable shoes

What to wear in Japan shoes

In Japan, footwear is a big deal. Sneakers are a big trend – even the “grandpa style” ones.

I’d highly recommend only packing shoes that are comfortable as you’ll be walking a lot.

You will be taking your shoes on and off multiple times per day. And if they are ones that need to be tied or buckled, you are going to get annoyed. Trust me.

Before our most recent trip to Japan, we both splurged on Kizik shoes. (This isn’t sponsored and we paid for them with our own money, FYI.)

Kizik shoes

They aren’t exactly cheap but oh my goodness, they were game changers: 

  • They’re super comfortable: We walked more than 20,000 steps several days on our trip, and these shoes were great!
  • We could literally just slip them on and off in an instant. This was the biggest selling point for me.
  • They look nice: Japanese people tend to look very “put together” (including their footwear). I loved that these shoes actually look nice and are functional. 

Ben was the most skeptical because he’s a frugal man at heart, but on the second day of our trip (after the 27th time taking them on and off), he leaned over to me and said, 

“Okay, I’m glad you convinced me to get these shoes.”

I didn’t even rub in the fact that I WAS RIGHT because I was just happy that I didn’t have to wait for him to lace up his shoes for the next 3 weeks of our trip!

Women’s shoes

Men’s shoes

Socks

Since you’ll be taking your shoes on and off often, you want to be sure that you’re not showing off some old, smelly, holey socks.

Sock up on some new ones before your trip. 

Crossbody bag

Where to stay in Tokyo | Asakusa Tokyo Japan

You will definitely want to pack a bag that you can wear when you’re out and about during the day. 

It should be large enough to fit your essentials but small enough that it doesn’t get too heavy or get in the way when you’re in crowded areas.

My bag recommendations:

Cozy clothes for lounging

Hatcho No Yu Onsen Hotel Nikko Japan

While I’d avoid wearing loungewear in public, you’ll definitely want to pack something cozy for hanging out in your hotel room.

Many hotels will provide yukatas, which are a cotton version of a kimono, for wearing around the property. But we prefer having comfy clothes to wear underneath. 

A soft t-shirt is perfect paired with a pair of joggers. I personally also like to pack a pair of shorts for sleeping in.

Men’s joggers

Women’s joggers

Yukata

What to wear in Japan yukata

At almost all hotels in Japan, you’ll be provided a yukata, or cotton kimono, that can be worn for lounging in your room (kind of like a robe), and even to dinner in nicer ryokans.

Be sure to try wearing them, as it is an experience you can only have in Japan!

What to wear in Japan yukata

Good to know: If you are traveling during fall or winter, you may also be provided with a haori, or jacket to go over the yukata.

Dressing for the seasons in Japan

What to wear in Japan

Japan has distinctly different weather during each season, so you’ll want to be sure you’ve packed accordingly. 

The lists below are what we personally recommend packing for each season. 

Packing Tip: If you are traveling toward the end of a season, be sure to look at what we’d recommend for the following season and adjust your packing accordingly. For example, if you’re traveling toward the end of spring, you may want to be prepared for the heat and humidity of summer and pack some summer essentials as well.

What to wear in Japan in the spring

couple holding hands in Japan

With comfortable temperatures but decent chances of rain, you’ll want to pack layers and think about waterproof footwear.

Here’s more information on the weather in Japan during the spring.

What to wear in Japan

Women

  • Long skirts
  • Flowy dresses
  • Bike shorts for under skirts/dresses
  • Pants (linen or cotton)
  • Jeans
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • T-shirts (nicer & casual)
  • Cardigan
  • Light jacket, waterproof or water resistant if possible
  • Athleticwear (if you plan to go hiking)
What to wear in Japan

Men

  • Pants
    • Ben is obsessed with these pants that are super comfy (and good for hiking) but also look really nice and can be dressed up.
    • He brought 3 pairs of these on our last trip to Japan and they were the only pants he wore! 
  • Shorts (Chino style)
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • T-shirts
  • Button up shirts (long and short sleeve)
  • Light jacket, waterproof or water resistant if possible

Shoes

  • Opt for at least one pair of shoes that handles water well

What to wear in Japan in the summer

Hiroshima Japan

With extremely hot temperatures and high humidity, you’ll want to focus on lightweight and breathable fabrics.

Here’s more information on the weather in Japan during the summer.

What to wear in Japan

Women

  • Long skirts
  • Flowy dresses
  • Bike shorts for under skirts/dresses
  • Nicer shorts (not athletic)
  • Lightweight t-shirts (nicer & casual)
  • Lightweight pants (linen or cotton)
  • T-shirts
  • Sleeveless shirts (as long as they aren’t spaghetti straps and don’t have a low neckline)
  • Light jacket or sweater
  • Athleticwear (if you plan to go hiking)
What to wear in Japan

Men

  • Pants
  • Shorts (Chino style)
  • T-shirts
  • Button up shirts (long and short sleeve)
  • Light jacket or sweatshirt
  • Athleticwear (if you plan to go hiking)

Shoes

  • Walking shoes
  • Comfortable walking sandals
  • Ankle socks to carry with you when wearing sandals (when entering a place where you have to remove shoes)

What to wear in Japan in the fall

What to wear in Japan

Temperatures are usually very comfortable (hotter at the beginning of the season and cooler toward the end). Pack layers and be prepared for chilly temps if you’re traveling in the mountains.

Here’s more information on the weather in Japan during autumn.

Kimono Forest Arashiyama Kyoto Japan

Women

  • Long skirts
  • Fleece-lined tights (to go with skirts)
  • Bike shorts for under skirts
  • Pants 
  • Jeans
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • T-shirts (nicer & casual)
  • Cardigan and/or sweater
  • Light jacket
  • Thicker jacket
  • Athleticwear (if you plan to go hiking)
What to wear in Japan

Men

  • Pants
  • Jeans 
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve button up shirts 
  • Light jacket or sweater/sweatshirt
  • Thicker jacket
  • Athleticwear (if you plan to go hiking)

Shoes & accessories

  • Walking shoes
  • Ankle boots
  • Wool socks
  • Beanie 
  • Gloves

What to wear in Japan in the winter

Winter in Japan | Two Wandering Soles

Pack lots of layers and warm accessories, like a hat and gloves.

Winter in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka tends to be quite mild, whereas you’ll need much warmer layers if you’ll be traveling in the mountainous regions of Japan.

Here’s more information on the weather in Japan during the winter.

What to wear in Japan

Women

  • Long skirt
  • Fleece-lined tights (to go with skirt)
  • Pants 
  • Jeans
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • T-shirts (nicer & casual)
  • Cardigan and/or sweater
  • Light jacket
  • Thicker jacket
What to wear in Japan autumn

Men

  • Pants
  • Jeans
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve button up shirts 
  • Sweater and/or sweatshirt
  • Light jacket 
  • Thicker jacket

Shoes

  • Walking shoes
  • Ankle boots
  • Wool socks
  • Beanie 
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Wool thermals (optional, depending on your itinerary)
  • Snow pants (if you plan to ski)

What NOT to wear in Japan

Kenrokuen Garden Japan
I probably wouldn’t wear this dress in Japan again. Prior to this trip to Japan (August 2019), we had been living in Bali, and this was one of my favorite dresses for wearing there. But the neckline felt too low for Japan. Plus, it was a little too short for my personal liking (especially when it was breezy!). Instead, I’d recommend choosing a dress with a higher neckline that hits around the knee (or lower).

There’s a lot of talk on forums and Facebook groups about how to dress in Japan so you blend in: 

What should you wear? 

What should you not wear?

Unless you’re of Japanese descent, you’ll likely stand out as a foreigner, or gaijin. So the way you dress isn’t necessarily going to make you look like a local.

However, putting some thought into the clothes you pack can make you stand out less and attract less unwanted attention.

Revealing clothing

What to wear in Japan
This dress was one of my favorites, but the neckline and exposed shoulders didn’t feel quite appropriate for Japan (it was also low in the back). I paired it with a plain white t-shirt and it worked really well for our Japan trip!

I’m all for dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable. However, I’d personally recommend avoiding low cut tops and tight clothing because it will attract unwanted attention. 

Leggings

This is a tough one for me because I live in leggings. However, in Japan, women don’t usually wear leggings as pants. They are considered pretty revealing because of how tight they are. Unless you plan to wear them underneath a long tunic (that covers your bum!) I personally would opt for other types of pants while in Japan.

Shoes that aren’t comfortable for walking

What to wear in Japan locals

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but you’ll be walking a ton. Put extra thought into the shoes you pack and only bring ones you’ll feel comfortable walking in all day long!

In Tokyo, you’ll notice people wearing (shorter) heels or platform shoes. However, when it comes to traveling (and not overpacking), I’d personally avoid these bulky shoes because you won’t be able to wear them for long distances.

Socks with holes in them

While in Japan, you’ll be taking your shoes on and off frequently and people will be seeing your socks. Make sure the ones you pack are in good condition and don’t have holes in them.

On this note, you generally won’t want to be barefoot. So if you will be traveling in the summertime, be sure to carry a pair of ankle socks with you for times when you need to remove your sandals.

Swimsuit

When soaking in onsen in Japan, it is generally considered unsanitary to wear a bathing suit, so you must soak naked. I have seen some undeveloped onsen (like a hot spring) in which bathing suits are allowed, but these are very few and far between. If you’re staying at a hotel with an actual pool, this is different, but you won’t need a bathing suit for most trips to Japan.

Perfume

It isn’t common for Japanese people to wear fragrances. I’d recommend not wearing perfume or cologne when you know you’ll be in crowded places, like the subway in Tokyo. 

It’s also frowned upon to wear fragrance when you’re dining because it can interfere with your eating experience (as well as those around you). This is especially important in sushi restaurants and higher-end dining in Japan. 

What do locals wear in Japan?

What to wear in Japan locals
We had dinner with a sweet Japanese couple in Tokyo. They were dressed very similar to us. The wife wore jeans, a sweater, and a light puffy jacket, and the husband wore a flannel button down and khaki pants.

If you want to dress somewhat similar to how Japanese people dress, here are some things to think about when packing your clothes:

  • In general, Japanese people don’t often wear athletic clothing outside of hiking. 
  • It is said that in Japan, jeans aren’t as common as in Western countries. That said, we noticed more Japanese people wearing (nice) jeans on our most recent trip than in the past. 
  • Japanese women don’t often wear leggings unless it’s under a long tunic, as they can be considered revealing.
  • Tank tops (especially those with spaghetti straps) aren’t very common among Japanese people. I’ve personally worn tank tops in the humid summer heat, but chose ones with thick straps and a higher neckline.
  • There’s not exactly a dress code, but choose more conservative outfits when you will be visiting shrines and temples to show respect.
  • Japanese people tend to wear looser clothing instead of tight-fitting silhouettes.
  • Japanese women don’t wear revealing shirts (aka exposed midriffs and cleavage); though shorter shorts and skirts aren’t uncommon for younger Japanese women.
  • We noticed that for the most part, Japanese people tend to stick to darker colors and neutrals for much of the year. There are certainly areas where loud, bright, quirky fashion prevails (like Harijuku). But overall, the theme seems to be simple and timeless. The most color we noticed was in summertime.
  • I’ve heard that pregnant women in Japan don’t typically wear tight maternity clothing, and instead opt for larger shirts.
Japan train station
Locals wearing summer clothing
What to wear in Japan locals
Locals wearing autumn clothing

At the end of the day, don’t let this stress you out too much. You should dress in the way that you feel most comfortable (while being respectful of the local culture). 

Our personal experience: I have worn jeans in Japan. I have also worn tank tops (during the heat of summer it was too hot not to!). As long as you’re not wearing things that are too revealing, you shouldn’t have too much unwanted attention.


More resources for traveling in Japan

We have TONS of resources on travel in Japan and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below!

Be sure to download our complete packing list for Japan! It’s packed with good suggestions and insider tips to help plan your Japan trip. And it’s completely FREE, so why not!?

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We want to hear from you!

Do you still have questions about what to wear in Japan after reading this article? What are your go-to clothing items for travel? Leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

Comments (2) on “What to Wear in Japan: Packing List + What NOT to Wear!

  1. Terri says:

    Loved your article on what to wear while traveling in Japan! All of your suggestions were simple and clear and cute too! Liked how you had links to the clothing recommendations. Your article is well organized and really helpful! Arigato!

  2. C says:

    You shouldn’t care that much about what society thinks you should wear. Wear whatever you like. Sure dont walk around with a bikini but u dont need long skirts or covering neck line. Be different. Be you. U are a tourist afterall. Unless its a religious place its okay to wear whatever.

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