When I pack for Japan (for any trip in general), there are always a few things that are a must have on me before I hit the streets of Tokyo or any other city. Here are a few that I carry and might be a few you should invest in yourself before booking that next trip.
First aid kit – Always have a first aid kit. Yes, most folks will have their vitamins and prescriptions filled and ready to go before traveling, but having a nice first aid kit is always good to have on hand. It should have basic bandages, first aid cream, stuff for bug bites, etc. Imagine you have been walking all day and you get a blister, you will be hurting for antibiotic ointment and bandages. And if you can’t find a store or can’t read Japanese, having that familiar Band-Aid on hand will be a good thing.
Shoulder bag – Having a shoulder bag is really nice to carry compared to a standard backpack (unless you have a slim backpack). Having that shoulder bag allows you to keep all of your gear that you need for the day on your shoulder, at easy arms’ length as you move about. There are also two advantages of a shoulder bag. The first is safety. Being able to keep that bag on your side and in your view is always a good thing, especially when getting on the subways. Secondly, when you get on those trains, being able to swing that bag around in front of you makes it easier to pack on the train and not run into people.
Pen and paper – Technology like phones and such can die, but a pen and paper are always there for you. I use the pen and paper for when needing to write down a few notes such as trains and station numbers that I will be taking that day when exploring Tokyo and it helps out big time to keep my mind on track when I need a quick reference. And another great thing about it is having a quick pen to write all down all of that information you need before going through immigration after arriving. If you don’t have a pen, you will be waiting for one or looking for one, so eliminate that issue and just have it on you.
Pocket dictionary – Again, technology like your phone can fail. Whether it’s the battery or signal, it will likely fail when you need it the most. Having a pocket dictionary however, will never fail. Having that print version will allow you to look up those key words or sentences to help you get through your trip and through those critical moments when you need it the most. It may be old school, but sometimes the old ways work the best.
Battery back-up – This goes with any kind of traveling, even to work, it is wise to have a good battery back-up. I prefer the Anker series of battery back-ups (I am not sponsored by them, I just love their gear). Their basic battery back-ups cost about $30 USD and are reliable and durable, holding a charge for what feels like forever. So have a good back-up because the last thing you want to happen is your phone, pocket WiFi, or another electronic to die on you when you may need it the most.