Following up with our post on the 10 Ten Must Haves for you study abroad, many of you may be wondering what sort of attire you should pack for casual outings and general days out. These recommendations are based cultural aspects of Japan you should be aware of, as well as personal experiences from my female peers and friends I studied abroad with. Following this advice will definitely save you packing space,weight and potential embarrassment in Japan. Read on to find out what items you should take, and what you should leave behind.

Typical Japanese entrance. Outdoor shoes must be removed.
Typical Japanese Entrance, outdoor shoes must be removed.
  1. It is extremely common practice in almost any Japanese home, temple/shrine, and even small restaurants and bars to remove your footwear before entering. Consequently, you will want shoes that are easy and quick to remove. Socks (or pantyhose) are also highly recommended, you’ll want to avoid wearing ones with holes in them for obvious reasons.
  2. One thing you will notice extremely early on after your arrival will be your reliance on public transportation. This means you will be walking A LOT. To and from the bus stop, school, train stations, pretty much anywhere you go. If you’re not walking, maybe you’ll be biking, it’s important to keep this in mind while packing. Don’t waste space bringing your best pair of heels, trust me, you will thank me later. They are really impractical in Japan and just not worth it, save the space and bring your Nike’s instead.
  3. Skirts are extremely common in Japan among young woman and girls. They are perfectly fine

    to wear to school or other casual outings. Though if you’re planning on biking it may take a bit

    of practice and planning of your outfit ahead of time. Plan to bring something somewhat formal but comfortable and overly revealing (more on this below). There will be a few times throughout the year you may want to dress up for different events.

  4. Japanese people are very modest people, and while they are extremely polite, some things which may be normal at home may make them feel very uncomfortable. More specifically I’m referring to cleavage. Several of my female friends have seriously recommended against showing excess or any cleavage at all. While that low cut shirt may be completely normal to wear back home, it could create a number of problems in Japan ranging from embarrassment and uncomfortableness, to awkwardness and even lead to some very unpleasant or creepy encounters with some people in public.
  5. If you want to make your life much easier, try to avoid clothes which require ironing. Even though the seminar houses do have irons available, you will find it becomes quite tedious keeping up with it every week. The dryers are terrible and expensive, so don’t rely on them to dewrinkle your clothes for you. Air drying is an option available to you in your room with some cheap devices from a Hyaku-En store, however they can be a bit cumbersome in your shared dorm room.
  6. Depending which semester you’re attending KGU, you will either have one of two elements to
    Tokyo in December.
    Dressing for winter weather in Japan

    deal with, or both. During the late summer months, Japan still experiences its rainy typhoon season. There’s days when it’s raining so hard, it actually feels like it’s coming up from the ground. Be sure to bring a good rain jacket and proper shoes that won’t ruin when they get wet. Don’t worry about bringing an umbrella though, they only cost about $1 at any store, and the seminar houses have some you can borrow too. Alternatively, you could be dealing with snow in the winter months and as Hirakata has several hills, they can become slick when it’s snowing. I should note that it’s usually a wet snow too, so while it may not last long, it will be very slushy and cold out, so factor this in while packing.

  7. Of course, you will experience plenty of great weather in Japan during both semesters and especially the summer months if you’re there, so pack plenty of shorts and cool clothes for these days. Just don’t forget about your warmer clothes you will need for those colder days.
In an effort to keep this post from becoming to lengthy, I’ll leave it at that. If you have any other questions about something I may not have covered or forgotten about, feel free to message me.

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