Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Japan Packing

I want to say that summer in Japan started about a month ago. It wasn't bad at first and I thought, I can deal with this. But more and more it's become unbearably hot and humid. I'm told that it's even more insufferable by the time September hits. So, for those of you coming abroad here is a quick run down of how I would pack.

Bring tank tops. Or very light, cool tops. It's against the cultural norm to show your shoulders in Japan because everyone wants to prevent themselves from burning and thus becoming darker. Light skin is the way to go. If you're in a big city tank tops shouldn't be a problem, but you might get some weirder looks if you're out in the countryside.

That being said it does rain in Tokyo. A lot. In fact the rainy season runs the length of summer. So while you're packing cool maybe bring a light rain coat otherwise pick up a cheap umbrella for about 525円 (~$5.25) from the convenience store in Japan. Since night can cool down quite a bit maybe considering bringing one shirt you can toss on over your lighter wear if you're planning on going out at night.

As for bottoms I'd avoid jeans and tights if at all possible. It's so insufferably hot that you aren't going to want to put yourself into that situation and not to mention that heat stroke and dehydration are common occurrences in summer. Help yourself out and wear shorts and/or skirts.

Light summer dresses are also another good route to go.

Items such as personal cooling fans are also a good idea, but you can buy Japanese style fans at a Daiso 100 Yen store just about anywhere.

Also note that sun block in Japan can be rather expensive running around 800円 ($8) a bottle with the majority of the max SPF ratings running around 20-30. If you have a brand you like back home or you want a higher rating your best chance will be to bring it with you.

If you're planning on spending time in a swim suit anywhere that is another item I would mark on your bring list. While Japanese bathing suits are adorable and don't seem to run any higher than anywhere back home, they do run small. I'm talking if you run anything bigger than a medium back home you may have some troubles finding something that fits. If nothing else than because Japanese woman's bust size is entirely lacking. My friend describes her bathing suit she bought here as being about the size of pasties and she's constantly having to check that the top hasn't slipped. Better safe than sorry.

If you're planning on doing a lot of walking and are worried about wearing out shoes bring an extra pair. If you're up to about a women's size 6-7 shoe size you should be able to buy shoes without a problem. Sizes 8 and up however can prove to be difficult if not impossible.

This goes for any time of year, but if you're bringing anything that needs a three-pronged plug in you'll want to bring a converter or adapter to allow it to be plugged into the 2 pronged wall sockets (both prongs are equal in size) depending on the wattage you device needs. Japanese wattage tends to run closer to the 110V range compared to America's 240V.

Again, this goes for any other time of year as well, but you should bring any medications you will need. It can be confusing to try and find a pain killer even if you can speak the language. So make sure you bring your Ibuprofen, but leave the Tylenol at home. I'm told some of the ingredients in the American version are illegal in Japan. Also I've yet to find things like Lactaid or Immodium in Japan so if you have anything that is necessary don't leave it to chance, bring more than enough.

Other than that, if you don't think it's dire leave it at home, especially if you're coming for a short term stay. The 100 yen stores are everywhere and sell everything that will get you through. If you're in Tokyo the Daiso in Harajuku is, I believe, the biggest with everything from dishes to makeup remover and laundry hangers. Don't worry too much if you forget something. It will be available here.

I think that about covers it for summer packing. As always, make sure you follow all the other packing rules you would normally or that our guest bloggers have suggested.

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