A surprising mix of ultra-modern technology and deeply revered tradition, Japan is a fascinating place to visit, whether you’re seeking sandy beaches, mountain villages, or vibrant cities. But while electricity isn’t something most travelers give much thought to, the Japanese electrical grid has some unusual quirks. Make sure you understand how it works, and take the time to figure out whether you’ll need a US to Japan power adapter or converter.
Which power outlets do they use in Japan?
Japan is one of the only countries outside the Western Hemisphere to use Type A and B outlets, the same as in the US. Type A sockets are ungrounded and have two flat holes, while Type B sockets are grounded and have a third hole. Unlike in the US, the ungrounded, two flat pronged outlet type (pictured) is most common in Japan.
The electrical grid in Japan has two other oddities. Most countries use the same frequency everywhere, but that’s not the case in Japan.
In the eastern part of the country, which includes Tokyo, the frequency is 50 Hz; in the western part, including Osaka and Kyoto, it’s 60 Hz. The difference in frequency generally isn’t an issue, but it can prevent clocks and timers from keeping time correctly.
The voltage used in almost every country is either 120V (in North America) or 230V (most other countries); however, Japan uses a voltage of 100V, the lowest in the world. Even though the electrical grid in the US uses a voltage of 110V, many American appliances are rated for a range of 100-120V.
What kind of power adapter do I need for Japan?
“What plug do I need for Japan?” is a good question if you’re making your first trip to Tokyo or some other Japanese destination – but you might not need one at all. For any devices that have the plug type with just two flat prongs (Type A), you won’t need a US to Japan power adapter; they can be plugged straight into any outlet in Japan.
However, if anything you’re bringing has a plug with a third-round prong (such as a laptop), an adapter is essential. You may find some Type B sockets, but they’re the minority in Japan. Check the plug on any devices you plan to bring to decide if you’ll need a US to Japan power adapter.
If you would like to plug in any Type B devices while in Japan, we recommend this Universal Adapter.
Not only will it have you covered during your stay in Japan, but it will also be a great asset in over 100 other countries during your future travels.
What’s the electricity and power supply like in Japan?
As one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries, Japan doesn’t experience unexpected power outages very often. Like any country though, Japan is susceptible to power outages caused by heavy storms or natural disasters.
Following major earthquakes in 2011 and in 2018, blackouts crippled large parts of the country.
Do I need a voltage converter for Japan?
Whether you need a US to Japan voltage converter depends on the devices you plan to bring. You’ll need to check the tiny writing by the plug on each device to see what voltage it’s rated to. If the lower end of the range for a given device is above 100V (110-120V is common in the US), you’ll need a converter.
Plugging an American-made 120V device into a Japanese outlet probably won’t destroy it, harm you, or start a fire. But the device may not function or might not work as well as usual, and it could cause minor damage. If you’re bringing anything that isn’t rated for use at 100V, play it safe and get a US to Japan voltage converter.
Other Japan Packing List Items
In addition to your US to Japan power adapter, these items will help you pack with intention and expand the possibilities of your getaway. Also, check out our Japan packing list for more inspiration and ideas.
1. Packing Cubes
Thanks to packing cubes, you no longer have to sift through every single thing in your bag to find what you’re looking for. Instead, pack each type of clothing in a clearly labeled packing cube. When you’re trying to find something small like a pair of socks, you’ll be glad your bag is so organized.
2. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
Whether you want to take photos of the cherry blossoms or look up the train schedule, you’ll be out of luck if your devices are dead. But all you need to keep them juiced is a tiny charger you won’t even notice in your bag. Bring this along, and you can make sure your devices stay charged throughout the day.
3. Windproof Travel Umbrella
Most areas of Japan encounter considerable rain throughout the year with the Summer months being the peak. You’ll want to arrive in Japan prepared to run into a rainy day or two. This is a well made, compact travel umbrella that will hold up even on a windy, stormy day. When you don’t need it, it’s small enough to stow in your day pack and it comes with a zip case so your other items will stay dry.
4. Jet Lag Relief
Coming from the US, the time difference can be 15 hours or more, which is a recipe for serious jet lag. Too many travelers end up spending their first days in Japan napping instead of exploring, but that doesn’t have to happen to you. Bring some jet lag relief pills, and you’ll adjust in no time.
5. Neck Wallet
Fortunately, pickpocketing isn’t terribly common in Japan, which has remarkably low crime levels overall. Still, it pays to be careful with your valuables, especially in crowded places and at tourist hotspots. Using a neck wallet is the easiest way to keep everything secure.
6. Travel Insurance for Japan
Nobody wants to think about getting sick or having an accident while traveling, but it happens. And in most cases, your at-home health insurance won’t cover you. They cover you for common issues during travel like medical emergencies, flight delays, cancellations, baggage loss, theft, and the ability to “cancel for any reason.”
We use Faye because they’ve modernized travel insurance and we’re here for it! You can quickly and easily make claims to get reimbursed straight from your phone through their convenient mobile app. Just like you wouldn’t own a home without home insurance, you also shouldn’t travel without travel insurance. It’s a small cost of your overall trip and well worth it for peace of mind.
7. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Internet security is always something to be aware of, but it’s especially important when you’re traveling and using lots of different public Wi-Fi networks. Fortunately, a VPN will protect you no matter where you’re logging on from.
8. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks
When flying to Japan, your checked luggage will be out of your hands for many hours. To decrease the likelihood of anyone stealing your belongings in transit, secure your bags with luggage locks. They’re also useful for locking lockers at tourist sites and hostels and are a smart way to keep pick-pockets out of your day bag. This 2-pack of TSA-approved locks is durable and backed by a lifetime guarantee. You can count on them for your trip to Japan and all of your trips to come!
9. Quick-Dry Travel Towel
From snorkeling the Keramas Islands to relaxing in the hot springs of a local onsen, you’ll appreciate having a fast-drying travel towel on hand. They are compact and lightweight, so they’re easy to throw in any day bag. I always prefer to bring my own towel on excursions because you never really know how clean are the ones they give out on tours.
10. Water Bottle with Built-In Filter
While tap water is supposedly safe in Japan, I never risk it when traveling. Even when it’s free from bacteria, tap water often still contains harmful heavy metals and other pollutants. That’s why I love traveling with my Grayl bottle. It can filter out viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, and chemicals. You’ll always have a convenient source of clean water, save money, and reduce plastic waste – triple win!
11. Cooling Towel Set
Summers can get hot in Japan, and if you’re outside doing any physical activity, it’ll feel even hotter. From hikes at the base of volcanoes to city walking tours, a cooling towel is a refreshing relief whenever you work up a sweat. All you have to do is get the towel wet, wring out excess water, and it instantly becomes ice-cold. Place it around your neck, shoulders, or forehead, and enjoy the cooling relief.
Other FAQs about traveling in Japan
1. When to travel to Japan?
Early spring and late fall are generally the best times of year to travel to Japan. You’ll avoid the heat and rain of summer, as well as typhoon season. Spring is an incredibly popular time to visit Japan due to the cherry blossoms; if you plan to go then, be sure to book ahead. The winter isn’t a bad time to visit most of the country, either. Except in the north, the temperatures aren’t terribly cold, and it’s usually sunny and dry; plus, most places will be uncrowded. Be sure to check current Japan travel advisories before you go.
2. What is the weather like in Japan?
Japan is made up of four main islands and several smaller ones, and weather patterns throughout the country vary considerably. The northernmost island of Hokkaido is the coldest (with average highs below freezing in the winter) and receives the most snow; the northern part of Honshu, Japan’s main island, has similar weather. The southern islands and even the central and southern parts of Honshu (including Tokyo) are notably warmer year-round. These areas get infrequent snow, and temperatures usually stay above freezing, even in the winter.
Outside of Hokkaido, most of the country experiences high temperatures and intense humidity in the summer, with heavy rainfall between late spring and early fall. Typhoon season peaks in August and September, primarily affecting the southern regions of the country, including Okinawa.
3. What to do in Tokyo?
Tokyo is a massive, vibrant city, with no shortage of fascinating things to do. Among the top attractions are Tokyo National Museum (the oldest museum in Japan) and the Imperial Palace, where you might get a glimpse of the Emperor himself. Take in the sights and smells of Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest fish market, and chaos of Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world. For another perspective on the city, go up to the observation deck at the Tokyo Skytree, which stands over 2,000 feet tall. For a uniquely Japanese experience, have dinner at the famed Robot Restaurant or watch a traditional sumo-wrestling match.
To take a break from the busyness of the city, treat yourself at a traditional onsen or spend some time in Shinjuku Gyoen or one of the city’s other gardens.
4. What to do in Japan?
Outside of Tokyo, the country’s top travel destination is probably Kyoto, which has a whopping 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Considered the Hawaii of Japan, the southernmost island of Okinawa is the place to go for a beach vacation, while Hokkaido is the best spot for hiking, skiing, and enjoying the mountains. Mt. Fuji is another of Japan’s most famous attractions, whether you want to climb up it or just take in the view.
5. How to see the cherry blossoms in Japan?
The chance to see the iconic cherry blossoms in bloom is one of Japan’s top draws. The blooms first occur in mid-March in the southernmost part of the country and happen later in the spring the farther north you go. On the island of Hokkaido, they don’t come until early-May. Plan your trip carefully so you’re in the right place at the right time. No matter where you go, be sure to book ahead, because hotels and tours fill up far in advance this time of year.