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What To Wear In Japan As A Tourist


by Maren Wegner



Traveling to Japan is a truly captivating experience, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural landscapes. As a tourist, it’s important to be mindful of the local customs and etiquette, including what to wear during your visit. Japan has a unique fashion scene that blends traditional clothing with modern styles, creating a distinct aesthetic. In this article, we will delve into the essential wardrobe choices for tourists in Japan, taking into consideration cultural considerations, weather conditions, and specific activities.


Japan is a country deeply rooted in tradition, and dressing appropriately is seen as a sign of respect. While the younger generation in major cities may embrace more Western fashion trends, it’s still advisable to be mindful of cultural norms. Avoid wearing revealing or excessively casual attire, especially when visiting temples, shrines, or other religious sites. Opt for modest and conservative clothing that covers your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. This will ensure that you are comfortable and respectful of local customs.


Weather is another crucial factor to consider when planning your outfits in Japan. The country experiences distinct seasons, each with its own climate and unique charm. Spring (March to May) is known for its cherry blossoms, while summer (June to August) is hot and humid. Autumn (September to November) brings beautiful foliage, and winter (December to February) can be cold and snowy in some regions. Prepare accordingly by choosing clothes suitable for the season you’ll be visiting in order to stay comfortable throughout your trip.


Cultural Considerations

When it comes to dressing in Japan, it’s crucial to be mindful of the cultural considerations in order to show respect for the local customs. Japanese society values modesty, cleanliness, and a sense of harmony, which are reflected in their clothing choices.


One important aspect to consider is the concept of modesty. Revealing or overly casual attire is generally frowned upon, especially in more formal or traditional settings. It’s important to dress in a way that covers your shoulders, knees, and cleavage, particularly when visiting religious sites like temples and shrines.


Another consideration is cleanliness. Japanese people take pride in neat and well-groomed appearances. It’s advisable to wear clean and fresh clothing during your stay in Japan. Avoid clothes that are wrinkled or stained, as it may be seen as disrespectful or careless.


A sense of harmony and blending in with the surroundings is highly valued in Japanese culture. When choosing your outfits, it’s beneficial to opt for more neutral and subdued colors. Avoid flashy or loud patterns that might draw excessive attention. Embrace understated elegance and simplicity in your clothing choices to align with Japanese aesthetic sensibilities.


Lastly, it’s important to remove your shoes when entering certain spaces, such as homes, traditional inns (ryokans), and some restaurants. It’s advisable to wear slip-on shoes or shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. This not only shows respect for the customs but also helps maintain cleanliness in these areas.


By keeping these cultural considerations in mind, you can ensure that you blend in with the local atmosphere and fully appreciate the cultural experience during your time in Japan.


Weather and Seasonal Factors

When planning your outfits for Japan, it’s crucial to take into account the weather and seasonal factors. Japan experiences four distinct seasons, each with its own climate and unique characteristics.


Spring (March to May) is a popular time to visit Japan, thanks to the beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom across the country. The weather during this season can be cool in the early months and gradually becomes mild as it transitions to summer. It’s best to bring light layers, such as cardigans or jackets, as well as comfortable walking shoes for exploring the parks and gardens.


Summer (June to August) in Japan can be hot and humid, especially in the major cities. It’s important to dress in lightweight and breathable fabrics, such as cotton or linen, to beat the heat. Opt for loose-fitting clothing that allows for air circulation and choose light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.


Autumn (September to November) is a picturesque time to visit Japan, as the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The temperature during this season is mild and pleasant, but it gradually cools down towards November. It’s advisable to bring a mix of both lightweight and slightly warmer clothing, such as sweaters or light jackets, to layer as needed. Comfortable walking shoes are still essential for exploring gardens and parks during this season.


Winter (December to February) in Japan can vary depending on the region. While some areas experience cold and snowy weather, others have milder temperatures. If you’re visiting during this season, it’s important to pack warm clothing, including a heavy coat, sweaters, scarves, gloves, and thermal socks. Layering is key to staying comfortable in changing temperatures. Additionally, consider bringing waterproof footwear or boots with good traction, especially if you’ll be walking in snowy or icy areas.


By considering the weather and seasonal factors, you can ensure that you are well-prepared and comfortable throughout your visit to Japan.


Clothing Recommendations for Women

When it comes to dressing as a tourist in Japan, women have a wide range of options that blend style, comfort, and respect for local customs. Here are some clothing recommendations to help you navigate your wardrobe choices:


1. Dresses and Skirts: Opt for modest-length dresses or skirts that fall below the knees. A-line or flowy styles are not only comfortable but also align with the feminine and elegant aesthetic often seen in Japanese fashion. Pair them with a lightweight cardigan or jacket for added versatility.

2. Tops: Choose tops that provide coverage for your shoulders and modest necklines. Avoid low-cut or revealing styles, especially when visiting religious sites. Blouses, tops with sleeves, and t-shirts with unique prints or patterns can add personality to your outfits.


3. Bottoms: Besides skirts and dresses, consider wearing comfortable pants or cropped pants made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. These can be paired with casual tops or dressier blouses depending on the occasion.


4. Layers: As weather in Japan can change throughout the day, it’s wise to layer your clothing. Bring lightweight sweaters, cardigans, or scarves that can be easily added or removed to adjust to temperatures.


5. Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as Japan offers plenty of opportunities for exploration. Opt for sneakers, stylish flats, or low-heeled shoes that can handle lots of walking. Pack a pair of sandals or slip-on shoes for relaxation or easy removal when visiting places that require you to take off your shoes.


6. Traditional Wear: If you’re interested in immersing yourself further in Japanese culture, consider trying a traditional kimono or yukata. These elegant garments can be rented and worn for special occasions or during festivals. Remember to be respectful of the proper way to put them on.


Remember, Japan has a diverse fashion scene, and different regions may have their own unique style. Don’t be afraid to express your personal fashion sense while being mindful of cultural considerations.


Clothing Recommendations for Men

When it comes to dressing as a tourist in Japan, men have several options to achieve a stylish, comfortable, and respectful look. Here are some clothing recommendations to help you plan your wardrobe:


1. Shirts: Opt for collared shirts, such as polos or button-down shirts, which are versatile and appropriate for various occasions. Avoid sleeveless or excessively casual shirts when visiting more formal settings. Consider bringing a lightweight sweater or cardigan for layering.


2. Bottoms: Choose comfortable pants or shorts made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. Jeans are also a popular choice for a casual look. Make sure your bottoms are in good condition and not too worn, as cleanliness is highly valued in Japanese culture.


3. Jackets: Bring a lightweight jacket or blazer, especially if you’re visiting during the cooler months. This can elevate your outfit for more formal occasions or add a touch of style to your casual attire.


4. Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes are essential when exploring Japan. Opt for sneakers or closed-toe shoes that provide good support. It’s also handy to have a pair of sandals or slip-on shoes for relaxation or when visiting places that require shoe removal.


5. Accessories: Consider bringing accessories like a hat, sunglasses, and a lightweight scarf to protect yourself from the sun and add a fashionable touch to your outfit. A small backpack or crossbody bag can also be useful for carrying essentials during your explorations.


6. Traditional Wear: If you’re interested in embracing Japanese culture, look into wearing a traditional men’s kimono or yukata for special occasions or festivals. It’s a unique way to immerse yourself in the local customs and traditions. Make sure to learn how to wear it properly and respectfully.


Keep in mind that Japanese fashion varies across different regions and occasions. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your personal style while being mindful of cultural considerations and dressing appropriately for each situation. By striking a balance between fashion, comfort, and respect, you can enjoy your time in Japan to the fullest.


Footwear Guidelines

Choosing appropriate footwear is essential when traveling to Japan. Not only does it ensure your comfort during long walks and sightseeing, but it also aligns with local customs and etiquettes. Here are some guidelines to consider:


1. Comfort is Key: Japan is a country that encourages exploration on foot, so prioritize comfort when selecting your footwear. Opt for shoes with good arch support and cushioning to prevent discomfort and fatigue. Ensure that your shoes are properly broken in before your trip to avoid blisters or discomfort during your journey.


2. Closed-Toe Shoes: While sandals and flip flops are acceptable for casual settings, it’s advisable to wear closed-toe shoes when visiting more formal or traditional places. Closed-toe shoes offer more protection, especially during inclement weather or when walking in crowded areas.


3. Slip-On Shoes: Many places in Japan, particularly traditional spaces like temples, ryokans (traditional inns), and some restaurants, require visitors to remove their shoes before entering. To make this process easier, opt for slip-on shoes that can be easily taken off and put back on. This helps maintain cleanliness and shows respect for the customs.


4. Waterproof and All-Weather Options: Be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions by considering waterproof or water-resistant footwear. This is especially important during the rainy season or if you plan to visit areas prone to snow. Having appropriate footwear will keep your feet dry, comfortable, and protected.


5. Respect Religious Sites: When visiting temples or shrines, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering certain areas. Some places may provide plastic bags or shoe covers for you to carry your shoes with you. It’s important to follow these guidelines and be respectful of the religious customs and practices.


6. Dress Shoes for Formal Occasions: If you have formal events or dinner reservations at upscale restaurants, consider bringing a pair of dress shoes. These can add a touch of elegance to your outfit and ensure that you are appropriately dressed for the occasion.


Remember, footwear plays an important role in both comfort and cultural etiquette during your trip to Japan. Prioritize comfort, choose suitable options for different settings, and always be respectful of local customs and traditions.


Accessory Suggestions

Accessories can elevate your outfit and add personal style to your travel wardrobe in Japan. They are an excellent way to showcase your individuality while complementing your overall look. Here are some accessory suggestions to consider:


1. Hats: A stylish hat not only protects you from the sun’s rays but also adds a fashionable touch to your ensemble. Whether it’s a wide-brimmed hat, a fedora, or a baseball cap, choose one that suits your style and provides functionality during your outdoor adventures.


2. Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the bright sun while adding a cool factor to your appearance. Opt for a pair of sunglasses that complement your face shape and provide proper UV protection. Consider bringing a lightweight sunglasses case to keep them safe during your travels.


3. Scarves: A versatile accessory that can be worn in various ways, scarves add warmth during cooler months and a pop of color to your outfit. They can also be used to cover your shoulders in more formal settings or temples. Consider lightweight and breathable options for warmer weather and cozy knits for colder seasons.


4. Bags: Choose a practical bag that fits your travel needs. A small backpack or crossbody bag is convenient for carrying essentials while keeping your hands free. Opt for one with secure closures to protect your belongings and consider water-resistant options in case of rain.


5. Jewelry: Add a touch of elegance or personal flair to your outfits with jewelry. Simple necklaces, earrings, bracelets, or rings can enhance your look without being overpowering. Consider bringing a few versatile pieces that can be easily mixed and matched with multiple outfits.


6. Belts: A well-chosen belt can instantly elevate your look and add a polished touch to your outfits. Opt for a versatile belt that coordinates with your pants or skirts and complements your overall style. Consider reversible belts for even more flexibility.


7. Watches: Style meets functionality with a wristwatch. Choose a watch that suits your style and is comfortable to wear throughout the day. Not only does it add a fashionable element, but it also keeps you punctual during your adventures.


Remember, accessories are an excellent way to express your personality and enhance your travel outfits. Choose pieces that align with your style, match the overall tone of your wardrobe, and consider the cultural context of your destination.


Dressing for Specific Activities

When visiting Japan, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in various activities, each with its own specific dress code or requirements. Here are some suggestions for dressing appropriately for different types of activities:


1. Visiting Temples and Shrines: When exploring temples and shrines, it’s essential to dress respectfully. Wear clothing that covers your shoulders, knees, and cleavage. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics during warmer months, and consider bringing a scarf or shawl to cover exposed areas if needed. It’s also customary to remove your shoes, so choose footwear that is easy to take on and off.


2. Hiking and Nature Walks: Japan boasts stunning natural landscapes perfect for outdoor adventures. If you plan on hiking or taking nature walks, dress in comfortable and weather-appropriate attire. Choose lightweight, moisture-wicking clothes for hot and humid weather, and layer up with warm and waterproof clothing during colder months. Don’t forget reliable hiking shoes or sturdy sneakers for sturdy footing.


3. Traditional Tea Ceremonies or Cultural Events: Attending traditional tea ceremonies or cultural events calls for more formal attire. Opt for elegant and presentable clothing, such as a dress, skirt, or trousers paired with a blouse or a collared shirt. Avoid overly casual or revealing outfits, and consider bringing a lightweight jacket or blazer in case the event takes place in a cooler venue.


4. Onsen or Hot Springs: If you plan on visiting an onsen or hot spring, it’s customary to bring a change of clothes. Most establishments provide yukatas or robes for guests to wear. However, you may want to bring your own bathing suit or swim trunks to wear underneath for comfort and ease. It’s recommended to bring a towel as well.


5. Dining at Fine Restaurants: If you have reservations at upscale or fine dining restaurants, smart-casual attire is generally expected. Opt for dressier apparel, such as a dress or a nice pair of trousers paired with a collared shirt. Avoid overly casual attire like shorts or beachwear, and pay attention to footwear by choosing more polished shoes.


Remember to research and understand the dress code for specific activities or venues you plan to visit in order to ensure a comfortable and respectful experience.


Shopping Tips

Shopping in Japan can be a delightful experience, with its diverse range of shops offering everything from traditional crafts to cutting-edge fashion. Here are some helpful tips to enhance your shopping experience in Japan:


1. Cash is King: While major credit cards are often accepted at larger stores and hotels, it’s advisable to carry cash, especially when shopping at smaller local shops or markets. Many smaller shops and street vendors may only accept cash payments. Make sure to have enough yen on hand for your shopping adventures.


2. Tax-Free Shopping: Look for stores that offer tax-free shopping for tourists. These shops provide a refund of the consumption tax (typically 8%) on eligible purchases. To qualify for tax-free shopping, remember to bring your passport and ask for a tax-free form at the store. The refund process usually involves presenting the form at the airport before departing Japan.


3. Size and Fit: Keep in mind that Japanese clothing sizes may differ from those in your home country. Check size charts and try on clothing before purchasing, especially if you’re shopping for local brands or traditional garments. Japanese shoe sizes also differ, so be sure to try on shoes to ensure a proper fit.


4. Vending Machines: Some shops in Japan have vending machines for purchasing goods, such as snacks, drinks, and even cosmetics. It can be a unique shopping experience, particularly for trendy and limited-edition items. Keep some coins or small yen denominations handy to use these vending machines.


5. Souvenirs and Gifts: Japan is known for its unique and high-quality souvenirs. From traditional crafts to quirky and cute items, you’ll find an array of choices. Look for specialty stores or markets that offer local or regional products, such as handmade ceramics, traditional textiles, or delicious snacks. These make excellent gifts for loved ones or mementos of your trip.


6. Duty-Free Shopping: If you’re a non-resident or visitor on a temporary stay, you may be eligible for duty-free shopping. Look for shops with “duty-free” signs or ask the staff for assistance. You can find a wide range of duty-free items including cosmetics, electronics, and luxury brands. Remember to present your passport to confirm your eligibility.


7. Try Before Buying: Some stores in Japan offer the opportunity to try products before purchasing them. From sampling food and beverages to trying on beauty products or testing electronic gadgets, take advantage of these try-before-buy options. It can help you make informed decisions and ensure you’re satisfied with your purchase.


8. Keep Receipts: It’s wise to keep your receipts, especially for high-value items or if you plan to seek tax refunds. It serves as proof of purchase and may be required to process returns or exchanges.


Whether you’re shopping for fashion, electronics, or unique souvenirs, Japan provides a diverse and exciting retail experience. Embrace the local shopping customs, be polite to the store staff, and enjoy exploring the wide array of shops and markets across the country.



Dressing appropriately as a tourist in Japan is not only a matter of respecting local customs, but it can also enhance your overall experience in this captivating country. By considering cultural considerations, weather conditions, and specific activities, you can ensure that you are comfortable, respectful, and stylish during your visit.


Remember to dress modestly, covering your shoulders, knees, and cleavage when visiting religious sites. Choose breathable and weather-appropriate clothing to stay comfortable throughout your trip. Opt for comfortable footwear, especially for walking and exploring the vibrant streets of Japan.


Accessories like hats, scarves, and sunglasses can not only add style but also provide functional benefits, such as protection from the sun. Be mindful of customs like removing your shoes in certain places, and consider renting or wearing traditional attire to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.


Moreover, shopping in Japan offers a wealth of unique experiences. Keep in mind important shopping tips like carrying cash, looking for tax-free options, and trying on sizes before making purchases.


By being mindful of cultural considerations, dressing appropriately for various activities, and embracing the local fashion scene, you can fully enjoy your time in Japan while showing respect for the traditions and customs of this captivating country.


So go ahead, explore Japan with confidence, and create unforgettable memories![^1^]




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