In a week from now, we’ll be starting our vacation in Japan! This trip has been a long time in the making and I’ll detail that in full through trip reports, podcast episodes and other blog posts. With the trip coming right after Thanksgiving, our travels have already started as we’re up in the Pacific Northwest with family this week. That means packing has already been done and even that was an adventure! In this post, we’ll cover a Japan specific packing list as well as giving a few initial thoughts on our trip and how we might cover it on this site.
While packing for any international trip is different than a domestic theme park excursion, I’ll start with how it’s not different. What to bring for an actual theme park day is largely the same, whether you’re going to Tokyo Disney Resort, Walt Disney World or any other theme park. Our packing list, in that regard, stays the same and everything in this post carries over to Japan’s theme parks.
There is a slight difference in weather, with Tokyo and the rest of the Japan having a much cooler autumn, winter and spring than both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. We aren’t traveling to the Arctic but preparing for some cold days with a few jackets, long sleeves and waterproof shoes has been a necessity. That’s all fairly obvious stuff that can be figured out based on a weather forecast, but it is a slight difference.
There are less obvious inclusions in the packing though and I’m going to list those below. Some of them are necessities and some aren’t. I’ve also included how we’ve bought our Tokyo Disney tickets and booked our hotel stay, as that’s not exactly packing but it is trip planning.
JR Rail Pass
We’ve been big proponents of the JR Rail Pass, as it eases travel throughout Japan for foreigners. If you aren’t just going to stay in Tokyo then taking trains throughout the country is a beautiful and convenient way to travel. Unfortunately, the cost of the JR Pass just went up significantly making it a little harder to recommend. We still think there’s some value there but it will depend on how much you are traveling. You order these passes ahead of time, confirmation and other items will be mailed to you and then this will be exchanged at the destination, whether that’s an airport, train station or wherever you choose.
Along with the JR Pass, we’ll be picking up a pocket wi-fi when we arrive at the airport. This will act as a hot spot for our phones so that we can use apps to navigate and communicate. We ordered these along with our JR Passes but there’s a number of places to get this or a sim card for your phone ahead of time! If not talking to anyone and getting lost in a foreign country does sound appealing then you could go without this. After the holidays, this might not sound like a bad idea to some 😉
I think this one goes without explanation.
I know masks aren’t in the public consciousness in America like they were two years ago. They still show up, especially during a higher flu season but they aren’t at top of mind. That’s not so much the case in Japan. Whether that’s hygiene theater, culture, peer pressure or actual concern is an interesting debate. Reality is that it’s probably a mix of all of them. Whatever the case, if a train or indoor setting is full of local people wearing masks I don’t want to be the foreigner without one. Like other customs to follow when in a different country, this is something where I take others lead, when reasonable, as a sign of respect to them.
As the world keeps moving farther away from physical money, it’s always hard to know how much of the foreign currency to take with you. We do use our credit card(s) for most everything and that’s especially applicable if the majority of our trip was to Tokyo Disney Resort or any other foreign Disney Resort. Since we’re going to other, less inhabited, parts of the country, we did take out some Japanese Yen in case we reach restaurants, street vendors, temples or anywhere else that only takes cash. How much to pull out is hard to answer without knowing where all you’re visiting. Many convenience stores (I think all of my beloved 7-11’s) have ATM’s so you can always get more money while in the country.
Camera Gear Minus A Tripod
As usual, I’ll have all of my camera gear with me but opted against bringing a tripod. Tokyo Disney Resort doesn’t allow tripods. This does make nighttime photos more difficult but I don’t mind the rule as it makes the overall experience a little stronger. I do have a beanbag to set my camera on for late night shots and there are other ways to operate without a tripod that sometimes bring out a more creative side of photography. Bringing a tripod for the rest of the trip was under consideration but I eventually sided against extra weight.
Park Tickets/Hotel Bookings
While these are digital, we did plan ahead for our park tickets and hotel booking. We are lucky enough to be able to stay at Hotel MiraCosta while at Tokyo Disney Resort and had to reserve that 3 months in advance. Any official hotel resort opens up for reservations 3 months in advance and I’d recommend having a plan before then as some of them sell out quickly.
As for tickets, official hotel guests are guaranteed tickets during their stay so it wasn’t a big worry for us. For others, park tickets go on sale 2 months in advance. There isn’t a park hopper option or multi-day tickets at this time so you’ll have to reserve the park you want to go to at the time of purchase. All of that isn’t quite as urgent as the hotel side of things but is better to do sooner rather than later, especially if you’re going during a busy time or weekend. Avoid weekends if you can!
Our Trip & How To Cover It
We’ll be in Japan for 15 days and I am excited to write and talk about it! Along with our usual trip report, in which I’ll cover the entire trip and not just the Tokyo Disney aspects, I’ll be talking about it on a travel podcast I do with a friend. I’m planning to post those episodes here when we release them! We will be going to Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Kyoto, Fuji, Tokyo Disney Resort and Tokyo.
Needless to say, coverage might be a little slower here on the website over the course of that trip. There are a few things planned in advance but there will be minimal amounts of time to put up new posts. With that in mind, I was curious how you’d like to see us cover the trip while we’re actually there. I will post photos on Instagram fairly often but that doesn’t always coincide with the site. Would you like to see photo updates here or just wait for the trip reports? Are there other Japan or Tokyo Disney specific content you’d like to see as we take this trip? Please let us know in the comments. We can’t wait to share with you!
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Categories: Vacation Tips