Weird clothes, big feet, and wardrobe malfunctions in Japan.

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.

It’s not.

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:

1. Shoes.

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.

Next time.

Are you good at packing for a long trip? What tips do you have to share?


  1. AlohaDaveKennedy says

    Gotta invest in more seasons of travel gear. For guys, long sleeve (rollupable) back vented multipocket polycotton fishing shirts are best for the summer heat and humidity. Loose, untucked Aloha polycotton shirts work if you just want short sleeves and don’t need the pockets.

    Japan in summer is a relative walk in the park, although you really want to be there in spring for the cherry blossoms or up in the mountains during summer. Do gear up before you head south into more steamy Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar or Singapore.

    • Points Pixie says

      AlohaDaveKennedy – Yes, my wardrobe is definitely lacking! Investments necessary!

      And sheesh, Vietnam, etc. would be really tough without the right gear.

  2. For outerwear, try anything linen, or even linen blend. Linen does not get saturated like cotton, and just feels cooler than synthetics and of course, silk. You can find these for cheap at a UNIQLO in Japan, but Japanese sizes run small.

    Linen does wrinkle easily, but it beats the alternative look of saturated cotton. To me, it is just part of the fabric’s character. If there are folds from being packed, just roll up the garment and give it a light twist.

    Also, try UNIQLO Airism. Lightweight and easy to pack. I never liked undershirts before, but now I wear them nearly every day.

    • Points Pixie says

      jdmc – Josh made a stop at UNIQLO but alas, as you mentioned, most everything was too small. He did discover the fabulous Airism line, and since they’re stretchy, those worked. 🙂

  3. Knowing what a smart and fashionable couple you and Josh are, I am dying of laughter.I love the boots! But I am also sitting here in a small mountain town in Scotland, in a damp outfit, waiting for my bags to catch up with me. I, too, am having wardrobe malfunctions – due to other malfunctions out of my control. I didn’t pack too badly, but the clothes I needed for my 2.5 hour hike in the pouring rain were in the van that was stuck in traffic behind us. (This was in addition to the train breaking down that derailed our original plans.) So instead of hiking boots and a rain jacket, I had purple Nike Frees (aka no support) and a polka dot micro umbrella. I know I looked ridiculous. At least the hike was worth it. But I really want dry clothes. And I need a drink. Off to the pub!

    • Points Pixie says

      Hottie – What is up with our wardrobe karma?? Wonder what each of us will be wearing when we meet in Paris. Should be some memorable photos. 😉

  4. Kendra, Ooh, I feel for you. Hope you get the smell out of your shoes and that you all dry out soon. But, as Hottie said, this post had me laughing. Sorry, sorry……

    Best advice I can give you is when you get home, find a few things that will work for travel to warmer climates, and most importantly, shoes that will really work for your travels. And then, earmark them for your travels only. That’s what I do. Once I found shoes that worked for me, I put them aside just for my overseas trips. First it was a pair of nice looking black Clarks walking shoes. Once they went to shoe heaven, I searched and found a great pair of Eccos that look great with jeans and slacks. Never wear them except on my trips. Recently got a pair of closed toe (me of the not pretty feet and toes) sandals that are good for walking – I have worn them a bit this summer, but I think I am going to put them aside for traveling in warmer weather or on trips where I’d wear a skirt and or dress (beachy or summery travels), like when we go to Hawaii in December.
    Plus, if you do this, it is a lot easier to grab stuff for your suitcase when you realize you are flying out 24 hours earlier than you thought!!!
    Safe and happy travels. Looking forward to your next post.

  5. my oh my! My suggestion would be running clothes or other sports gear. packs super tight, very light, and usually wicks the sweat away from the body. Also easy to hand wash & dries quickly.


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