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In this Local’s Approved Japan Packing List, find out what to wear in Kyoto from Masae, who lives in Kyoto. She’s traveled around the entire country and studied for four years in Kyoto. Thank you, Masae! Keep reading to find out what to wear in Kyoto Japan!
Japan Packing List for Kyoto
Japan is a mix of modern and conservative–a melting pot of technology, fashion, tradition, and the arts. Japan is considered a great travel destination in Asia, with a delightful variety of sights and sounds to experience day in and day out. Foreigners will be pleasantly surprised at the many offerings of the country, ranging from seasonal festivities to modern daily living.
Let’s highlight one of Japan’s favorite tourist spots—Kyoto. A center of arts and crafts, Kyoto exudes the elegance of the country’s history as well as new technology. It is an obvious mix of old and new, keeping with the old tradition of wearing kimonos and still being fashionable with the latest trends. Surrounded with green foliage, panoramic landscapes, and temples, Kyoto is a traditional Japanese community that local tourists enjoy as much as you will.
If you’re planning to visit Kyoto or any districts in Japan, prepare yourself with these packing tips that will help you create your own customized Japan Packing List.
Looking for more Asia Packing Lists? Read this!
In Kyoto, you can still see people wearing a yukata, a type of kimono. In fact, local tourists rent yukatas at special studios, so if this is something you want to experience, you can! Increasingly, it’s prevalent to see more people wearing traditional clothing or dressed as geishas because they mostly only exist in Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the few places you can still see geishas! Be prepared to take many pictures.
Japanese people love dressing conservatively but stylishly. You can see that in their famous Harajuku style, which branches out into a number of local costumes and clothing. Masae stresses avoiding low necklines or shorts that are too short as it is not common to see overly exposed cleaves of either direction.
For temples, shrines, and traditional places, it is advised to be respectful and modest to pay respect to the monks and other visitors.
Watch and Learn from the Locals
Local fashion consists of many styles, and as a traveler, you can use it to inspire your own fashion. In general, people love to dress up and take pride in their appearance, from their hair to their makeup and their shoes, so you don’t want a sloppy appearance. Flip flops are not worn outside the home, so wear a pair of regular shoes.
What to Pack for Japan: Winter
During winter, Japan’s temperature can drop below zero. In Kyoto, particularly, temperatures fluctuate between a mild 50-54°F/10-12°C, which means travelers have to brave the frost in order to get the best of the season. January is considered the coldest month of the year, with the lowest average of 34°F/1°C. It gradually rises in March, with an average of 57°F/14°C.
During this season, travelers are advised to wear heavy layers of clothing, something the locals are accustomed to as regular houses and inns are not well insulated. If you’re staying in a hotel, you should be able to keep warm, though.
Prepare with gloves or hand warmers, mittens, and thermal leggings if you’re planning to go sightseeing during this snow-capped season in Japan.
Local tip: Hand warmers are easily available at drugstores and pharmacies and are very popular during this time of year.
What to Pack for Japan: Spring
Japan has a major facelift during spring, when colors flourish from the melting snow and dazzle the landscape. One of the most prominent symbols of the country occurs during this season: the sakura (cherry blossoms). These blooms stir from their winter sleep and endow the region with a lovely pink color. Spring fashion in Japan can commonly be associated with this hue.
During spring, the weather is still chilly and windy, but it is warming up a bit. Take lighter pieces of clothing and layer them; bring a jacket or a cardigan for extra comfort. You will see most girls wearing comfy flats, so make sure you carry a comfortable and cute set of shoes.
Remember, always check the weather before you go. You may need to follow the autumn packing tips instead!
Local tip: Dress as the locals do in cherry blossom colors!
What to Pack for Japan: Summer
Summers in Japan can be hot, humid, and unbearable, reaching up to mid 90°F/30°C. This is the best time to strip your heavy layers of clothing and wear a comfy tee, denim, or a summer maxi dress paired with a smart top.
Late April to May is a pleasant time, as the chills from the winter slowly depart into a mild temperature. However, June to July is rainy season; make sure you bring your umbrella with you. August is Japan’s hottest summer peak, but it is also a culminating season for many of the country’s matsuri (festivals). During this season, you can enjoy nightly hanabi (fireworks).
Local tip: Prepare colorful outfits during this happy festival season!
What to Pack for Japan: Autumn
In autumn, Japan boasts beautiful, colorful foliage, especially in Kyoto. You can visit scenic sites in all their earthly beauty. The weather is still warm in September but it starts cooling down in October and by November it’s wintry cold.
During this season, pack your boots, as well as your favorite autumn color wear, like browns, reds, and yellows, which are trendy this season. These colors are reminiscent of the koyo (red leaves) often seen in the surroundings of Mt. Fuji or along the many delightful temples in Kyoto.
Local tip: A hip length, medium coat is suggested for this time of year.
Things to Remember
- When in Japan, why not try dressing yourself in the national Japanese dress? The kimono and yukata are popular locally in Kyoto and can be rented in local studios.
- In winter, try dining on hot pot “nabe” and visiting hot spring/public baths, to warm your body and mind.
- Prepare yourself with a few Japanese words as you travel; this is important in greeting people, as they can be modest with their English. Study a few basics, like Konnichiwa! (Hello), Sukimasu (to like) and Dokoni imasu (where) to get you around. Additionally, learn a few of their customs to know how to respectfully treat the locals.
What are the essentials in your Japan packing list? Please comment below!
For more Asia packing lists, please read:
- Packing List for Japan: Tokyo
- Southeast Asia Backpacking Packing List
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Southeast Asia
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