I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the weather is very mild all year round. We literally do not own clothes for the dead of winter or the heat of summer; all of our things are appropriate for balmy spring days or crisp fall nights.
So it was kind of a challenge to put together an assortment of clothes that would work for the summer in Japan. I thought I was ready (and I was actually excited) for the heat and humidity. Since we never get that kind of weather where we live, it’s a wonderful feeling to me (usually I am one of those people who is always cold). I love New Orleans, and I figured it would be similar.
Summer in Japan is a different story. As we walked though Kyoto and Tokyo, rivers of sweat cascaded down our bodies, drenching our clothes. This happened all day, every day. So after a very short time, every single item we packed was sticky and grimy with dried sweat. It was gross.
Since we knew we were soon going to stay at a house with a washing machine, for the first ten days we just rolled with it. We bought a few pieces of clothing in Japan, washed a few things in the sink, and just wore dirty stuff. We looked a little bedraggled, but still presentable.
But every so often, I would realize that we looked a little weird. Okay, maybe a lot weird. Here’s why:
First of all, the shoes that I packed for the trip just didn’t work. I have the world’s worst and jankiest feet (surgery, flat feet, extra bones, and more that you don’t want to hear about), so even in my normal, non-traveling life, I have to wear Frye boots. Every day. With everything. The stiffer and more supportive, the better. So I’m not sure why I thought that running shoes and Birkenstocks would work when we were walking miles and miles.
After the first few days, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was in agony. We found a sporting goods store in Kyoto and I gratefully hobbled in, excited to buy a pair of hiking boots worthy of the John Muir trail. Sadly, when I told the salesguy my size (nine), he just shook his head.
Apparently they don’t carry many (any?) women’s shoes in my size in Japan.
I was devastated, until I had the brilliant idea to buy a pair of men’s shoes in a small size.
Now my feet look like this every day.
2. Weird clothes.
As I mentioned, we didn’t have a lot of summer clothing options in the first place. Also, we packed in a huge rush. But I still don’t really understand why Josh packed the clothes he wears to work in the yard at home. This does not fully capture the essence of the outfit, but you might be able to get the idea. That strap thing is actually one of those weird money belts. Josh insists on wearing it because he doesn’t want to carry a wallet.
My clothes are pretty weird, too. I’ve been wearing the same thing every day: an amazing shirt I found at GU (a Japanese Target-y kind of store) for 700 yen (about $7), shorts, and my hiking boots. It’s my uniform.
I hope I don’t want to burn it when this trip is over, but I have a feeling I won’t ever want to wear any of these three things ever again when I get home.
3. Wardrobe malfunctions
We’ve had a few interesting clothing moments. Josh learned that one of his shirts is completely see-though when sweat-wet. I’ve lost weight from all the walking we’re doing, so my shorts are falling down in an annoying way.
Basically, we’ve learned that most of the clothes we packed for this trip are great for San Francisco but not so useful for Japan. If I had it to do over again, I would pack ONE extra outfit and just buy a few appropriate pieces once I arrived.
Are you good at packing for a long trip? What tips do you have to share?