Monday, May 30, 2011

Packing for Japan

We're in Japan for late May, but we expected some of the rain and humidity more typical of June's rainy season, based on the tweets we read from expats in Tokyo. All the advice we read suggested that we aim for smart casual, with no jeans, shorts, or low-cut tops - now that we're here, I'd say that's outdated advice for a tourist, as there are plenty of local ladies wearing short shorts (usually over tights or with thigh-high stockings), jeans, and jeggings.

I needed to pack light, and have a dress for a fancy date night, and considered the ability to wash things by hand an asset. Most importantly, I wanted to be using the Project 333 rules for myself. So here is what I packed:

This is my list for the trip, a smaller version of what will likely be my summer Project 333 list (I would have melted wearing only items from my spring Project 333 list):
- cardigan - navy blue cotton with shawl collar from The Gap (turned out to be too warm for most days)
- waterfall kimono-sleeve cardigan - beige
- stylish tops, no cleavage - navy stripe from Anthropologie, navy ikat-dot from Anthropologie, navy stripe tee from Gap, teal square-neck from Gap, polkadot tank from Anthropologie
- slacks or capris - black denim trousers, blue dark-denim leggings, black linen Bermudas, blue jeans (not shown)
- dresses: navy and cream ikat-print 2-layer dress from Anthropologie by Plenty by Tracy Reese; navy ikat-print dress from Jones New York, thrifted
- walking shoes (black Clarks Wave)
- dress shoes (navy Clarks Artisan Timeless)
- raincoat - just a pocket-size plastic emergency poncho, since locals don't use them
- black purse (not shown)
- brown elastic belt
= 18 items

Not included in my list but worth mentioning: 1pair comfortable PJs for summer humidity (although it turns out hotels here provide PJs or yukata or both), bras made with foam cups, socks in perfect repair and appropriate for lots of walking, 2 pair of navy tights, black yoga pants (loungewear) for on plane

Wanted to buy while in Japan: scarf, obi sash belt (navy blue), summer kimono (short so it can be worn as a jacket), umbrella, folding fan and hand towel for in purse. Possibly a second-hand Burberry Blue Label handbag.

Actually bought or was given: an iris-print long summer kimono (dress not jacket) and purple obi sash to wear with it, which I haven't worn; fabric which I will hem to make a scarf; a thin navy blue polkadot scarf, and a clear plastic umbrella. Second-hand Burberry in a colour that goes with my wardrobe wasn't to be found anywhere, even at a designer consignment wonderland like RagTag in Shibuya, and the short traditional jackets proved to be beyond my budget.

So my total item number for the trip was 20, including the scarf and umbrella. I did find this meant I did a lot of handwashing in our hotel room, and sometimes the humidity meant things did not want to dry overnight.


  1. I blogged a while back about how to be stylish while travelling, which you may find useful.

  2. Hi Wanda, Thanks for reading! Great post. For those outside the UK what on earth is a GHD? I assume it's some kind of hair appliance?

    I didn't talk about cosmetics in large part because I've always been an au-naturel girl - a bit of concealer, some tinted sunscreen, a bit of lip gloss, and go. In the rainy-season humidity of Japan this worked out really well, except that you actually end up sweating off the sunscreen in no time. No wonder Japanese ladies like to use parasols!

    We also left the bigger of our two suitcases at our hotel in Tokyo so we'd be taking only what we could easily carry when we did the city-to-city-by-Shinkansen part of our trip. So I only used half my wardrobe during those five days. There was a lot of handwashing and hanging to dry, and since my jeans wouldn't have dried at all in the humidity I sent them for laundering about when we returned to Tokyo.