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What to Pack For Your Move To Japan (Plus Size Edition)

If you're heading to Japan for the first time you definitely want to pack these essentials in your luggage. I would recommend these items for everyone, but certain plus-sized clothing items are much more difficult to find, so it's more convenient to purchase them in your home country and bring them with you. What your focus should be is determined by your size. Generally, the larger the size, the more difficult it is to find in Japan. There are many websites that you can order from, but it's nice to have the essentials on hand when you're new to the country. It's a lot to adjust to; navigating a new country, language, and fashion scene can be intimidating, so here are some tips to help you out.

1. Bras

Pack bras. Pack all the bras.

If you wear a cup size larger than a US "B", or a band size larger than a US 30, pack a lot of bras. Your bra size is likely going to be very hard to find at a reasonable price in Japan (especially if you also have a plus-size band size). Unfortunately, for larger sizes (yes, a US B is a large cup size in Japan), your only option may be to order items online. Additionally, if you are able to find your bra size in Japan you may not be satisfied with the support; many Japanese bras are thinly lined, offer little support, and tend to be a little more delicate and dainty, rather than functional. Packing multiples of your favorite will just make your life a bit easier while you're settling in. Where to Shop: Large Size Bras In Japan Find Your Size: International Bra Size Conversion Charts

2. A good suit and clothes for work

No matter the reason why you're moving to Japan if you plan on attending (or get a surprise invite to) anything like work events, interviews, seminars or meetings, you're going to need a good suit and appropriate workwear. Japan does offer plus-sized suits for women, but it can be tricky to find a good fit.

Invest in a dark color (black or navy) formal suit with basic, button-up blouses (no patterns) in white or light blue. If you are going to be working in an office environment or as an English teacher, consider packing way more. If you are moving to Japan to work or to go to university, prioritize business wear and some business casual pieces over casual wear. You will 1) need business wear more often than casual wear and 2) will be able to find casual items much easier than formal clothing.

Depending on your workplace, there will be some slight variations on what's appropriate/allowed. As a general rule, only pack tops with a higher neckline (no V necks), skirts that fall below the knee, and A LOT of stockings/pantyhose (if you plan on wearing skirts or dresses).

plus size women wearing jeans

3. Trousers and Jeans

Plus-size pants, trousers, and jeans don't usually account for foreign hip, backside, or thigh measurements. You may be able to find your waist measurement, but finding the right fit for your body type may be a challenge. If you're plus size and tall, absolutely pack a variety of pants.

4. Shoes

Pack a good variety of shoes, especially if you're over a US size 7 or have wide feet. I wear an 8.5 US shoe, and while I don't always need wide width (WW) in Canada, my foot is wider than what's available in many shops in Japan. An 8.5 is on the higher end of what some shops carry (many stop at 7 or 8); I'm able to find good sneakers, but formal shoes are hard to come by.

5. Stockings & pantyhose

As mentioned above under workwear, pantyhose is one thing you will see almost all Japanese women in skirts, dresses (or even shorts) wearing. There are some pricey options available by large brand names up to a US 2XL, but Japanese pantyhose/stockings are short. Pack different colors (black, beige and skin tone[the crowd favorite]) that fit your body type.

6. Swimsuits

Okay, so this isn't essential for everyone. But if you're over a 2XL or busty, have a style preference for your swimwear, or just like swimming, pack some swimsuits. Swimwear combines everything not great about the plus-size scene in Japan; lack of support for large breasts, ill-fitting suits, cuts, and patterns that leave A LOT to be desired- if you're able to find them at all. Plus-size brands don't always carry swimwear, so if you're planning on hitting the beach often, bring a good suit.

Other Items to Consider Packing:

  • Deodorant: Summers are hot and if you're prone to sweating, Japanese deodorant may not be enough. Most Japanese brands are antiperspirants; the formula is more similar to light armpit perfume.

  • Hats: If you have a hat size larger than 58, it may be difficult to find a hat that fits. Some international brands like H&M carry up to a size 60 hat, but the fit is snug as the majority of shoppers wear small hat sizes.

  • Belts

  • Winter Jacket

  • Bike Shorts or anti-chaffing shorts to wear under skirts and dresses to prevent chub rub

  • Sweat-wicking layers to wear under your clothes in hotter weather


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