No matter what time of year I visit Japan, locals always seem to say “it’s unusually cold for this time of year.” But one thing is for sure, Winter in Japan is freezing! One might think it difficult to pack light for Winter, but this is my guide to one bag packing.
First off, always prepare for varied temperatures with layers. I find the best way to layer is to choose a color palette that can be mixed and matched. Also, choose items you can wear more than once in a different outfit.
We used the Japan Rail Pass for a week in Hokkaido, Japan (which is the most northern island of the country). Having been here before, I knew how cold it can get and how much, and what, I needed to pack.
Long sleeved striped tee – pairs well with many items, and you can use to layer
Beige cashmere sweater – not only is it warm, but can be warn with jeans, sweater skirt and over the sweater dress
Black sweater – same rules apply as the beige sweater, but can also be worn under the herringbone vest
Pink turtleneck – a pop of color is always nice to add to a neutral wardrobe
Neutral sweater skirt – although the weather is cold, this item is quite warm and is nice for a feminine look
Sweater dress – I like to use this to layer with other items
Vest – works great as an outer layer for unexpected, warmer days
Skinny jeans – as an American, this is a staple for ANY wardrobe
Leather ankle boots (similar) – these pair well with pants and skirts/dresses
Belt – a little detail with jeans can go a long way
Puffer coat – really the only coat you will need in Japan during Winter
Wool socks x5
Winter stockings x2
Luckily, hotels in Japan (as well as ryokans) offer toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, combs, etc. which saves you a lot of space.
It was amazing that this was all I needed for our trip to Sapporo! Read my Slow Train Travel to Sapporo, Japan to see our adventures.