Shoes to Wear in Japan: What to Pack and What to Leave

So you’re planning on visiting or studying in Japan. Awesome! But now comes the hardest part, what shoes should you pack and what should you leave behind?

How much you pack solely depends on how long you’re planning on staying in Japan.

Inokashira Temple Tokyo, Japan

Less than a week:

Sandals or crocs for the summer – not flip flops (1 pair)
Closed toe shoe (optional, 1 pair)

Sandals – not flip flops (1 pair)
Closed toe shoe (1 pair)

Boots (1 pair – preferably that can work in the snow)
Closed toe shoe or ankle boot (1 pair)

Boots (1 pair)
Closed toe shoe (1 pair)

Moomin Moominvally あけばの子供の森公園 in Japan

A week to a month:

Sandals or crocs for the summer – not flip flops (1 – 2 pairs)
Closed toe shoe (optional, 1 pair)

Sandals – not flip flops (1 pair)
Closed toe shoe, ankle boot, or boot (1 pair)

Boots (1 pair –that can work in the snow)
Closed toe shoe or ankle boot (1 pair)

Boots (1 pair)
Closed toe shoe or ankle boots (1 pair)

Sendai Temple, Japan

One-Two seasons

Summer – Fall
Sandals or crocs for the summer – not flip flops (2 pairs)
Closed toe shoe (1 – 2 pairs)

Fall – Winter
Sandal (optional, 1 pair)
Closed toe shoe (2 pairs)
Boots (1 pair –that can work in the snow)

Winter – Spring
Boots (1 pair –that can work in the snow)
Closed toe shoe or ankle boot (2 pair)

Spring – Summer
Boots (1 pair)
Closed toe shoe (2 pairs)
Sandal (optional, 1 pair)

Udon Sendai Japan

A year:

Sandals for the summer (2-3 pairs)
Crocs (optional, 1 pair)
Comfortable high heels (1-2 pairs)
Closed toe walking shoes or ankle boots (2 pairs)
Indoor sneakers (1 pair)
Boots for cool/cold weather (1 pair)
Snow Boots (1 pair)

Tokyo Imperial Palace Japan
Important things to note:

  1. If you’re planning on staying in Japan for a long period of time, you can technically buy shoes there. However if you are a woman with a shoe size above 8 or a man with a shoe size above 10, you most shoe stores in Japan probably will not carry your size.
    Therefore, when you travel, it is important to always bring more than one pair of shoes, just in case something breaks. You will most likely be doing a lot of walking in Japan, so make sure you test or break in your shoes long before you board your flight to Japan – blisters can ruin your travels.
  2. If you do decide to buy shoes in Japan, remember that they can be very expensive.
  3. Flip-flops are often considered socially unacceptable or inappropriate. If you have comfortable sandals, bring those. If you’re only going on a short trip through Japan, it probably doesn’t matter.
  4. A surprising number of people wear crocs in Japan.
  5. If you’re planning on visiting any castles in Japan, you might have to remove your shoes to walk around. Even if you don’t go to a castle, you will still have to take off your shoes when you enter a house (and some restaurants). Bring slip on shoes – if you want to bring hiking boots, make sure you can slip them on and off without hassle. One of the most frustrating things about Japan for some foreigners is the fact they constantly have to be taking their shoes on and off.

If you have any questions or comments, send me a message or leave your question in the comment section below!

Have a fun trek through Japan!

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

7 Comments on Shoes to Wear in Japan: What to Pack and What to Leave

  1. By boots do you mean ankle (chelsea) boots or knee high boots or what? We are going late March/early April. Thanks.

  2. Hi, I’ve been in Japan for a month only and plan to settle here with my Japanese girlfriend.
    Shoes are literally driving me nuts! I’m considering checking out all my expensive European brands shoes as I have to take them on and off 100 times a day!
    I checked some local shoe stores but Japanese shoes are horrendous: could you suggest where to find elegant easy to slip on and off shoes in Japan?
    Thank you! I’m very depressed. Shoes are the most important accessorize for me. I can’t stand my shoes be taken care of by Others! Not to mention wearing public slippers, disgusting! Don’t tell me “you got to get used” please! I love Japan, it’s just that I am “shoe fetish”… Help me!

  3. Hello! Thank you for the great post! I’m considering visiting Japan for the first time in May and was wondering if knee high boots are just right for the weather or would ballet flats do the job? This is because I’m hoping to pack light. Also, in terms of clothes, whats suitable for Spring in May? :) Thanks in advance!

  4. I’m planning on making a trip to Japan in just under a month. I will be traveling with fellow students of my college to an affiliate in Tokyo, and was wondering what popular fashion or customs are? Professional attire for a young women I suppose. All I’ve heard is that Japanese women more often than not will keep their arms covered, but other than that I’m a bit clueless and want to make a good impression on the Japanese school. Thanks so much for you help!

    • Hi!

      First of all, have fun in Japan!
      As to your question, “professional attire” for young women is usually a plain black suit and nice blouse. It’s rare to see someone in a “work dress” (if they aren’t well established in the company, etc). I’m not sure exactly how fancy the affiliate program is in Tokyo, but I suggest suits (or similar, formal wear) with plain black, closed-toed high heels.
      It’s a bit strict, I guess. As long as you don’t wear open toed shoes (or jeans), it should be fine?

  5. I would also add that if you (blokes) plan on visiting castles like Himeji or temples where you will be required to remove your shoes, make sure you bring slip on shoes. I knew I would have to remove my shoes often in Japan but still brought lace up hiking shoes. Will only make that mistake once. Many brands have good slip on “adventure” shoes nowadays.

    • That’s actually a really great point. Thanks!
      I remember when I was visiting castles, I had to slip off my enormous hiking boots and carry them throughout the castle. It was a bit of a hassle.
      I also think sandals can be a bit of a problem in the summer – some of them require you to fiddle with multiple straps each time you take them on or off.
      I will add this to my post – thanks!

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