Planning a trip to Japan is exciting!
You can't help but get caught-up dreaming of exploring the beautiful temples of Kyoto, getting lost in Shibuya Crossing, or imagining how you will eat sushi every single day (it was a dream come true!).
But when planning my trip, I didn't think about what to wear in Japan during the summer.
While many may think packing for a trip to Japan is straightforward, the weather during the summer can be swelteringly-hot, and on top of that, summer is also the rainy season, so pre-planning what to wear in Japan will make a huge difference to your holiday.
After spending three-months living and travelling in Japan, I've become something of an expert in all things Japan/summer-related, so I put this together to help y’all out!
(BONUS: For the wonderful readers of The Global Shuffle, I've created a free checklist on what to pack for Japan, covering ALL SEASONS.)
(NOTE: This article contains some affiliate links – they don’t cost you anything extra, and you get some super-universe love coming your way.)
Depending on where you are in Japan, the rain can vary from light showers to torrential downpours. While watching weather forecasts is a must, don't forget to pack your raincoat when heading out for the day – I still remember coming back from a day of sightseeing to find my hostel…flooded. If you visit during the summer, it will 100-percent rain – I’ll bet my raincoat on that.*
(*No guarantees on paying out bets, because I don't like to gamble, and this is a travel blog, not a gambling blog, no?)
Whether you carry an umbrella or not is a personal choice, but if you're staying in Tokyo or Kyoto, I highly recommend either bringing one from home, or purchasing one when you land – the shops and tourist areas are very umbrella-friendly (yes, that’s a thing!). You will find umbrella stands outside stores and/or plastic bags you can use to hold your umbrella in so you don't drip water everywhere. Don't worry about your umbrella being stolen – Japan has a very low theft-rate.
Most people don't realise how hot and sunny Japan can get, so if you're visiting, a sun hat will definitely make a difference to your day. While Japan doesn't have a reputation for harsh sun, sunburn is possible (take it from someone who has experienced it first-hand), so make sure you pack a cap or a sunhat and take it out with you. Bonus points if your hat is packable.
A good, comfortable pair of sandals are also a must. Many guesthouses in Japan require their guests to remove shoes when indoors, and some temples also require you to remove your shoes before you enter, so bonus points if you can easily remove them.
I don't recommend flip flops, as they're not particularly travel-friendly (especially if you're planning on doing a lot of walking). People usually dress quite nicely, so it’s also very rare to see Japanese people wearing flip flops.
(Heading to Tokyo? Click here for a comprehensive 5-day itinerary by Creative Travel Guide)
T-Shirts & Light-Weight Tops
This goes without saying, but in hot weather, t-shirts or blouses made from light, breathable fabric are essential. You most likely won't need a jacket, as air conditioning in Japan is often kept at 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees F), and aren't super-cold environments (unlike other countries during the summer *cough Australia cough* where it sometimes is so cold you need a jacket when you're indoors).
Jeans in summer are not a good idea at the best of times. Jeans in summer in Japan are an even worse idea. While this post isn’t titled "what not to wear in Japan during Summer", I think it’s important to note that wearing jeans in high-humidity is not a good idea. I brought a pair of jeans with me and didn't even wear them once.
I know, I know, this post is titled 'What To Wear In Japan' and you can't exactly wear a fan, but hand-on-my-heart, this will be the best purchase you make for your summer trip. Whether you can bring a little hand-held battery operated fan or a more traditional fan, it will be a life-saver when you're out during the day. Bring one from home, or buy one from a tourist store when you get there.
Wondering what to wear in Japan in the north?
If you're heading up north to Hokkaido, or mountainous regions like Kamikochi in Central Japan, make sure you bring a light jacket and/or long pants, like jeans or leggings. These areas aren't as hot in the summer and you can expect colder temperatures, especially in the evenings. If you’re looking to escape the humid weather, head up north or to the mountains, Hokkaido in the north is incredibly popular with local Japanese, and gets crazy-busy during August when everyone is on school holidays!
So there you have it – my guide to what to wear in Japan during the summer!
If you're planning a trip to Japan make sure you download a copy of my all seasons packing checklist – download a copy here!
Mae-Gene is an Australian travel blogger based in Boston, USA. When she's not traveling or gushing about how much she loves Japan, she's eating too many cookies, sharing awkward travel moments on Instagram, or writing late-night ramblings filled with budget-friendly tips over at her blog, The Wandering Suitcase.