Are you wondering what to wear in Kyoto? Kyoto is the historic and cultural capital of Japan. As such your itinerary is likely to be filled with temples. shrines, castles and shopping. In this guide we will put together Kyoto outfits for dress codes as well as for Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall.
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Kyoto Dress Codes
Kyoto is not a city full of dress codes that you need to concern yourself with. However as you will be visiting temples and shrines in Kyoto as well as perhaps adding a tea ceremony with a geisha to your itinerary, there are some places it is worthwhile being mindful of your dress.
Shrines and Temples in Kyoto
Unlike other religious sites around the world, like Italian churches, mosques in the Middle East and temples in Thailand, there is not a strict dress code in temples and shrines in Kyoto.
So if you are visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kinkaku-ji aka the Golden Pavillon and other Kyoto temples be sure to dress primarily for the weather.
However there is etiquette that you should be aware of in regards to Buddha, and people praying.
What to wear at a tea ceremony
Tea ceremonies in Kyoto with a geisha are a very special bucket list item for many. Traditionally, people wear kimonos for tea ceremonies however this is not a requirement and many people are surprised to find that there is not a formal dress code for tea ceremonies
However having said that I would not advise you to wear casual clothing such as jeans and t shirts. A tea ceremony is a special event so it is worth making an event and sticking with a smart casual dress code if you decide to wear Western clothes.
How do local people dress in Kyoto?
As Kyoto is a big tourist city, you will see lots of fashion styles on the streets. However it is common to see traditional dress in Kyoto in particular in the Gion district which is home to the geisha tea ceremonies and at shrines like Fushimi Inari you will also see kimonos and yukatas.
Generally though I think you should concern yourself with dressing for the weather primarily.
What to Wear in Kyoto
So now you know about dress codes and how locals dress in Kyoto, we will now turn our attention to what to pack for Kyoto in every season!
What to wear in Kyoto in Summer (June, July and August)
Summer in Kyoto is characterised as June, July and August. Kyoto in Summer tends to get pretty warm temperatures with the average highs and lows hovering between 33C and 19C (91F-66F). And I can tell you from experience that it feels very hot and humid in the city in Summer. Therefore we recommend packing lots of lightweight clothing made of natural fabrics as well as some clothes that can deal with rain as Summer is rainy season in Kyoto.
Generally speaking I would recommend packing the below for Kyoto in Summer:
Light rain jacket
A lightweight packaway rain jacket is very handy for Kyoto in summer. Summer is monsoon season in Kyoto so this can come in handy. Click here to shop rain jackets.
Maxi dresses are one of my favorite things to wear in Japan in Summer.
Personally I like maxi dresses but this is just personal choice. I like to have something colourful and tend to avoid black in summer as it absorbs heat.
Just remember to pick a dress in a natural fabric to reduce sweating.
Trousers and Blouse
Trousers and blouses are a great alternative to maxi dresses for exploring Kyoto and having dinner as they are a great day to night transition outfit.
We tend to avoid jeans in Kyoto in Summer as they are too warm. Instead we recommend linen trousers. If you do decide on packing linen be sure to check out our guide on how to pack linen to avoid wrinkles.
Tank Tops and T Shirts
As there are no dress codes to concern yourself with in Kyoto we recommend packing a mix of T shirts and tank tops for summer that can be paired with skirts, trousers or shorts.
Shorts are perfect for summer days in Kyoto. You can wear these all over the city as they don’t break dress code rules. We do however recommend avoiding denim and instead picking shorts in a natural fabric.
Swimwear is great for summer if you are staying at a hotel with a pool.
Sneaker socks are good for days when you plan to do lots of walking as these will help reduce sweat and odour in your shoe. Shop sneaker socks on Amazon here.
Goes without saying.
Light weight PJs are a must for Japan in Summer. Many hotels and Airbnbs in Japan do not have air conditioning and therefore lightweight nightwear and loungewear is an absolute must.
Sunglasses with good UVA Protection are an essential for staying sun safe in Kyoto.
Note: If you want to know what to wear in Kyoto for men I recommend packing a mixture of chinos and linen trousers and some smarter shorts alongside plain t shirts and polos and short sleeve shirts for summer.
What to Wear to the Kyoto in Spring (March, April, May)
Spring in Kyoto is peak season. That is because Spring is cherry blossom season and Kyoto is one of the best places in Japan to see cherry blossom. Obviously you can never be guaranteed when the blossoms will start but typically they open in Mid March and reach their climax in early April.
So what should you wear to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto in Spring?
Generally speaking March is the coolest Spring month with May being the warmest in Kyoto. In march the temperatures hover around 14°C/57F to 3C/37F and rise to a balmy 25C/77F to 14C/57F. Therefore what you should pack for Kyoto in Spring really depends on the specific month you are traveling in.
For March and April I would stick to the spring capsule wardrobe, however by May I would start transitioning to your summer attire. Also it is worth noting that are around 8 days of rain across each spring month so having a lightweight rain jacket can be a good idea.
With these temperatures and conditions in mind we tend to recommend packing the below additional items for Spring:
A lightweight jacket that is perfect for shoulder season in Kyoto. . Click here to shop jackets for Kyoto.
Jeans are a good pick for early spring in Kyoto. But if you are traveling in May then linen trousers and cotton trousers are a better pick.
Short Sleeve T Shirts
Short sleeve t shirts are a great pick for Kyoto in Spring. We recommend trying to select tees that work with a variety of bottoms as part of a capsule wardrobe.
As the evenings can be chilly in early spring we recommend having a nice blouse with you that you can dress up with some costume jewelry and a pashmina to wear for dinner.
Dresses and Skirts
I like to wear a dress in nicer restaurants in Kyoto.
Pashminas are always on my packing list no matter the season or city I am visiting and Kyoto is no exception.
Underwear and Socks
This should go without saying
Spring is a changeable so having PJs that work well whatever weather.
What to Wear in Kyoto in Fall (September, October and November)
When looking at what to pack for Kyoto in Fall you will notice there is a lot of overlap with the summer packing list for September especially. And there is a definite overlap with our Winter Travel Capsule Wardrobe for November.
Having said that there are a few items that I always recommend on your packing list for Fall which are:
- Jeans -especially for October and November.
- Long trousers – for September linen and chinos are a good choice however in November you will want thicker trousers.
- Blouse – for evenings and cooler daytimes. I recommend a 3/4 length sleeve or long sleeve for women. And for men long sleeve shirts for October and November and a short sleeve one for September.
- T Shirt – for September you will need more short sleeve t shirts and tanks and for November you will need more long sleeve tees.
- Dress – if you are going to a smarter restaurant in Kyoto you may want a dress.
- Layers – as the months go on you will need thicker layers.
- Coat or Jacket – For September a waterproof jacket is perfect however for November a thicker waterproof coat is perfect.
- Hat, scarf and gloves (for November)
What to Wear in Kyoto in Winter (December, January and February)
Winters in Kyoto are typically relatively mild especially by comparison to the Northern island of Hokkaido. You can also expect some snow in Kyoto in Winter but it doesn’t usually settle. Generally speaking the average temperatures are 1ºC/33ºF to 11ºC/51ºF so you shouldn’t need to worry about thermals for Winter.
Woolen Hat or Beanie, scarves and gloves
For cooler nights a hat, scarf and glove is a great addition to your list.
Jeans / Long Trousers
Jeans are a staple of any Japan Capsule wardrobe especially in Winter. But I would also have a pair of smarter pants too for evenings out.
If you are having a less formal day of sightseeing then a hoodie is perfectly acceptable.
I would personally pack more long sleeve than short sleeve t shirts for Kyoto in the Winter.
Whether you are a woman or man visiting a jumper should be a staple of your Kyoto packing list.
I tend to pack merino wool jumpers instead of chunky knits as they take up less space in your case and are easier to layer.
We like merino wool socks as they are warm but thin.
Planning to head to other parts of Japan in Winter? Check out the related posts:
Best Shoes for Kyoto
So now you know what to wear in Kyoto in every month, we will turn our attention to the best shoes for Kyoto.
Sneakers are perfect for Kyoto no matter the season you visit. In many places in Kyoto like shrines, temples and castles you will be walking over uneven surfaces so it is worth having shoes that can cope with a variety of terrains and offer good arch support.
However if you aren’t visiting in Winter, I personally don’t think you can go wrong with a plain white sneaker as they really go with everything. One of my favorite pairs of white sneakers is the Adidas Cloud Foam shoes.
Sandals are really only appropriate for Kyoto in Summer and in September. We like slip on and off ones as in places such as Nijo Castle you have to remove your shoes in certain places.
Boots are great for Kyoto in Winter. Personally I like to wear ankle boots with a good sole and thick or no heels.
What to Pack for Kyoto (non clothing)
So now you know what to wear in Kyoto, we will turn our attention to what to pack for Kyoto other than clothing.
- Travel Adaptor
- Power Pack / Battery recharger
- Compact Umbrella – essential for monsoon season.
- Crossbody bag – All tourist attractions in any city attract pickpockets and this type of bag is a good deterrent.
- backpacks for Day trips
- Make up
- Travel lip balms.
- Camera – Kyoto is a beautiful city you will want to take lots of photographs.
If you want to pack your toiletries before you travel then be sure to check out our travel toiletries essentials packing list.
FAQS About What to wear in Kyoto?
What to wear in Kyoto at night?
If you are looking at what to wear in Kyoto at night the answer is that it will depend on where you are going to.
If you are visiting a nice restaurant then you would be ok to stick with a smart casual dress code, unless the restaurant stipulates otherwise. I would say the same applies to tea ceremonies too even if there isn’t a strict dress code.
Have you been to Kyoto? What did you wear? We would love to hear in the comments below!