Packing List for Japanese Exchange Students

Packing for a year abroad requires careful planning. Photo Credit: Pixaby

Packing List for Japanese Exchange Students

Spending a year abroad is exciting. I know, I’m living and studying in Tokyo, Japan, for a year as a high-school student. Packing for a year can be daunting, I spent weeks planning and packing. So I’m sharing my top tips and Packing List for Japanese Exchange Students.

My Top Tips for Packing

  • Look at airline baggage restrictions before buying a ticket. I opted for an international airline since they allowed two checked bags plus a carry-on.
  • Carefully pack and weigh suitcases to keep them under the luggage weight restrictions. And remember to leave space for souvenirs.
  • Take one large hard-sided piece of luggageand use a soft-sided piece, like a duffle, for additional packing. That way you can store the duffle in the suitcase.
  • A small carry-on is necessary if traveling around Japan.
  • Arrange luggage forwarding from the Narita International Airport if traveling in Japan before heading to school or your host family.



Aim to pack around 2 weeks worth of school clothing. Many schools require a uniform.

  • 5 Short-Sleeve Shirts
  • 6 Long-Sleeve Shirts
  • 8 Skirts
  • 3 Sweaters
  • 10 Knee Socks
  • 1 Dress Code Coat

Keep in mind what the weather will be like while you’re in Japan.

  • 5 Short-Sleeve Shirts or T-shirts
  • 5 Long-Sleeve Shirts or T-shirts
  • 4 Sweaters
  • 3 Shorts
  • 3 Pants
  • 2 Skirts
  • 2 Scarves
  • Heavy Coat
  •  Pair of Winter Gloves
  • Winter Hat or Beanie
  • 2 Fleece or 1 Light Jacket
  • Raincoat
  • Small Umbrella
  • Bathing Suit + Cover-up

Tip:My school required a one-piece bathing.


Even if you don’t exercise, it’s always a good idea to pack for it.

  • 2 Shorts
  • 1 Pair of Leggings
  • 2 Sport Bras
  • 10 Underwear
  • 10 Socks
  • 2 Tights
  • 5 Bras
  • 2 Undershirts
  • 2 Sleepwear Outfits
Special Occasion

Pack only one or two dressy outfits.

  • Dresses or
  • Blouses
  • Skirts or Dressy Slacks

Different schools have different requirements for footwear. And my schooldoesn’t allow street shoes inside. So pack according to your school’s dress code. And pack at least one pair of comfortable walking shoes.

  • Casual Shoes
  • Flip Flops
  • Flats
  • Dressy Flats
  • Sandals
  • Athletic shoes

It’s not essential to have any specific shoes for winter.

  • Warm boots are always a good idea.
If you're headed to Japan as an exchange student or a teacher, here's the packing list for you. Got everything you need for a year aboard. #PackingList #travel #Japan
credit: Pixabay

If you're headed to Japan for an exchange year or as a teacher, here's the packing list for you. Got everything you need for a year aboard. #PackingList #travel #Japan


Since it may be difficult to find the products you need at first. Bring your regular products until you get settled in and find Japanese alternatives.

  • Body Soap
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Face Wash
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothbrush + Toothpaste
  • Travel Size: Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap
  • Razors
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Bobby Pins
  • Nail Clipper
  • Sunscreen
  • Tweezers
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Chapstick
  • Make-up–Though most Japanese women don’t wear much make-up.


  • Charger
  • Headphones
  • Charger
  • Case
  • Portable battery charger
  • Electricity adapter if traveling outside of Japan

School Stuff

School supply requirements differ among schools, it’s a good idea to bring the basics. Japan features some amazing stationery stores too if you need more supplies after you arrive.

  • Pencil Bag with pencils, pens and higlighters
  • Folders
  • 1 Spiral
  • 1 Binder
Packing List for Japanese Exchange Students.
Headed out to Tokyo’s Narita Airport with two large suitcases and a carry-on. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Important Documents

Don’t forget important documents and store them in a secure place. I made copies of my front page of my passport along with my visa. I left a copy with my parents back in the U.S. and took a copy with me to Japan.

  • Passport with required visa. Though exchange students and teachers will be issued a resident card upon arrival.
  • Credit Card
  • Debit Card


  • Purse
  • Wallet
  • Japanese Yen for the first few days.
  • Small Backpack or Day Bag
  • School Backpack


  • A book you’ve wanted to read.
  • Deck of cards
  • Uno (Very popular in Japan)


  • Collapsible Laundry Bag
  • Journal
  • Calculator

Prep and Pack for Japan

If you’re traveling around Japan before heading to your school or host family, then arrange for your luggage to be forwarded from the Narita International Airport. Big bags are a hassle on the Narita Express to Tokyo.

Looking for more information about traveling to and around Japan, then check out this article. Or need some help navigating Japanese food, then read this article. Then check out this top show in Tokyo here. And here’s my favorite Japanese snacks.

My Year Abroad

I’m spending my sophomore year of high school at an all-girls high school in the Suginami ward in Tokyo. As a way to document my experiences, I’m writing articles to help others.

Additionally I’m working to earn my Gold Award with USA Girl Scouts Overseas during my exchange year through my articles.


This post contains affiliate links.

Maddie Ford, a high school sophomore, loves to travel. She's driven through the lower 48 of the U.S. along with six Canadian provinces. Recently expanding her horizons beyond North America, Maddie has traveled to Ireland, Scotland, England and Italy. Though she calls Japan home now. Spending a year studying Japanese, Maddie attends St. Margaret's Anglican All-Girls School in Japan as an exchange student.

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