How-to, Japan
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5 Useful Things to Take to Japan

1. A small hand-towel

In Japan you’ll see tiny towels for sale everywhere. There’s a reason for that and I wish I’d known before we went.

Japan might be home to the most technologically advanced toilets but don’t let that fool you. When it comes to hand drying, many of the bathroom in Japan are slightly lacking.

There were multiple times I left a bathroom, wiping my wet hands on my jeans. It was only near the end of our trip that I finally purchased a hand towel and I guarantee it’s coming with us the next time we go.

2. Hand sanitiser

This one goes hand-in-hand with the first (pun not intended). The bathrooms can be hit or miss when it comes to soap so this is a very useful purchase*. I kept a small bottle in my handbag and I lost count of the times I used it and I wouldn’t exactly call myself a germaphobe.

3. Medicines!

My fiance got sick. Then I got sick. And it sucked. I reached the end of my patience and attempted to purchase cold medicine. By either skill or sheer good-luck, I did manage to get the right pills. The real problem, was the dosage. I had no idea how much to take and so, not wanting to risk it I just took 1.

That 1 pill did sweet F.A. A while later we met up with a friend of Jack’s and her Japanese boyfriend. I used the opportunity to ask him to read the box for me. The dosage was 3, no wonder it wasn’t working!

You won’t find familiar brands in Japan and unless you’re fluent in reading Kanji, buying medicine will be a struggle. So bring your own and be prepared.

4. Deodorant or anti-persperant

Chances are you’re bringing some anyway, unless you’re a magestic unicorn of a person who never sweats and smells wonderful all the time.

But here’s the thing. If you forget soap or shampoo, you’re probably going to be fine. In fact you’re going to have a great selection.

Deodorant is a little different. Japan doesn’t have a great selection and that’s because most Japanese people don’t actually sweat that much. So it’s best to play it safe and bring your own.

5. Tissues

My biggest frustration with Japan was the difficulty in finding decent tissues.

I’m someone who keeps a box of kleenex in half the rooms of the house and my car too because I hate being caught out. Plus between hay-fever in the summer and colds in the Winter, I need them all the time.

So it was a teeny bit annoying to be stuck with a cold in Japan and have no decent tissues. They have them and some are handed out for free as promotional items. But the tissues SUCK. They are thin and small and flimsy, completely useless for my big western hooter.

There is a reason for this. You see, in Japanese culture, what comes out of your nose is profoundly dirty, more-so than it is here in the west.

Western tissues are designed to be used about 2 or 3 times. They’re triple-layered, thick and large enough to last you a little while. So it’s not culturally unacceptable to blow your nose on one and then pocket it for another use later on.

In Japan this is a big no-no. It’s considered good etiquette to avoid blowing your nose at all if you can help it. And when you can’t, you blow your nose once and the tissue immediately goes in the bin.

But Japanese culture or not, I can’t handle using those tiny tissues again, so I’m making sure I bring plenty of extras with me next time!

So there we have it, 5 useful things to bring to Japan. But now I want to ask you, what do you think is a useful thing to take to Japan?

*I have also heard a tip that wiping down the surfaces around you on a plane with hand sanitiser can be a good way to avoid being sick!

This entry was posted in: How-to, Japan
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Emma started the Emma Visits site and YouTube channel to share her adventures and give tips and advice for other people looking to explore the world (and looking for good food along the way).


  1. I always take a shawl because in summer air conditioning can be very strong especially if you have the table just underneath in a café.


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