Everyday carry is enjoyed by many around the world. Without knowing it, you might also be an everyday carrier yourself! As long as you carry a phone, watch, wallet, knife, or bag (among others), you are also part of the everyday carry community. Regardless of the reason, if you are in Japan working or on active duty and want to have a crack at, or improve your everyday carry an assortment of items, there are many high-standard and quality goods that are offered in numerous stores. There are other wonderful everyday carry items that can add to your daily necessities.
While difficult, it may add an extra level of uniqueness to your carry if you get lucky and find the right thing. Due to the commuting environment of Japan, having the right everyday carry bag can put you at a greater comfort on your daily commutes, so this article highlights some Japan quality soft good brands. Plus you can show off all your Japan exclusive everyday carry gear to your friends back at home!
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Everyday Carry in Japan
Is everyday carry popular in Japan?
Everyday carry in Japan is very different from the concept of everyday carry that is commonly known in the Western world, which usually includes general daily use items but also has a somewhat heavy focus on pocket knives and multitools. It is important to know what to carry, especially when it comes to knives since those items have issues due to practical and legal issues.
The nature of Japan’s laws affects how people organize their everyday carry, changing the carry culture here. Taking into perspective the daily commuter, their everyday carry may include a nice and lightweight backpack or briefcase, with charging cables, a handkerchief, a set of pens, possibly some pouches for organization, and an umbrella. In their pockets, they may carry their keys in a keyholder, a wallet, a coin pouch, and their phone. Japanese everyday carry tends to lean more towards the side of practicality and minimalism, particularly in larger city areas like Tokyo, where commuting on foot and on trains is common. So, everyday carry is very popular in Japan, nearly everyone is carrying something with them that would be categorized as an everyday carry item, but more importantly, what people carry here reflects the lifestyles of the people in Japan.
Jumping into a hobby in a foreign country will require some confidence, check out our guide on Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone!
What everyday carry items are sold in Japan?
Of the many everyday carry items available, Japan has many that cater to both abroad and domestic people. Some notable items include bags, pouches, briefcases, slings, wallets, key holders, umbrellas, accessories, bandaids, chapstick, contact lenses (if necessary), and wallets.
While difficult to carry and probably more uncommon, there are still a few stores in Japan that sell pocket knives, but they disclose the current legal status for pocket knives before the sale to let people know not if the knife is legal or not. These items can also make for great souvenirs for friends abroad in your home country, who may want some Japanese-exclusive everyday carry items.
In general, people in Japan will carry a bag on them, and pockets are usually empty aside from maybe a wallet, coin pouch, and phone. With regards to the wallet, while it is possible to transfer to a phone or watch, IC rechargeable cards (transport cards for trains) are very important in Japan, so many Japanese-designed wallets and phone cases have a specific pocket for that card. It is also important to note some common Japan use items such as a hanko or face/hand towel. Hanko are typically used in place for signing important documents rather than a signature using a family name which is somewhat common to do in Japan. It is always good to carry one around because you might not know when you’ll need it. Another item is a face/hand towel. Many bathrooms in Japan don’t have paper napkins for wiping your hands after you wash them, so it is useful in that sense. In addition, Japan summers can get hot, so having a face towel handy may be of use during those sweltering heats.
In addition, many stores will give point collection cards as well, so it is good to note that card pockets are a must. On their face, they will probably have a mask since masks are a big part of the commuting culture in Japan. In their bag, they may have a laptop, camera, some pouches to organize cords and miscellaneous items, and possibly an umbrella from the side pocket since Japan weather can be unpredictable at times.
What are the laws regarding knives and medications?
Due to the restrictions in Japan, pocket knives with a lock, and knives that have a blade length of more than 2 inches are all illegal in Japan since those are regarded as weapons. However, if a knife with a blade length of less than two inches is found by a police officer, it may still become problematic. It is important to keep this in mind, as the rules here are much different than abroad. Be sure to check the official government page to see what the most updated laws are.
In addition to illegal items to carry in Japan, there are certain medications from abroad that military personnel and others may require that could fall under that list of illegal items. It is best to check with the most updated main government page for legalities around medications.
If you need to learn how to navigate Japanese healthcare for medications, read our Guide to Health Insurance in Japan!
Most Utility Japanese Everyday Carry Brands
Following the practical approach of Japanese style everyday carry, bags and softgoods are the most “utility” for the average city dweller. Each brand caters a variety of soft goods, from offering useful pouches that can be thrown into bags for organization, to beautiful and Japan-made wallets. Everyday carry items can vary from place to place, for example, you may not carry some items in an urban setting whereas you might carry other items in the countryside of Japan. For the purpose of simplicity, these brands have been selected with the assumption of aiming for an everyday urban carry.
There are also some outlets that have great soft goods bags, check out our Ultimate Guide to Tokyo Outlet Shopping!
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Porter and Yoshida
Porter and Yoshida is a high-quality Japanese brand for soft goods everyday carry bags and wallets. Porter and Yoshida pride themselves on their made-in-Japan quality that has been around since 1935. The bags and brand as a whole have created a near cult-like following due to its popularity and reputation as a brand that sells soft goods that are built to last. Many of the designs take into consideration the domestic Japanese market, using many simple colors like black and white, but there are also some products that share some level of colors; typically most bag colors do not stand out. The bag design and pocket storage is made to keep the customer’s preference in mind, many who may use their bags for long commutes on the train.
In addition, bag straps and handles are designed to be comfortable for walking with or holding for periods of time. Porter and Yoshida also have a long history of taking on collaborations with other larger brand names, which caters to a wider reach of fans that may enjoy those franchises; those collaboration soft goods items can add to the everyday carry loadout of many enthusiasts.
Porter and Yoshida have a wide offering of different everyday carry softgoods, some notable ones being the trolley bag, duffel bag, briefcase, backpack, tote bag, helmet bag, shoulder bag, waist bag, clutch bag, and handbag. Of all bags offered, Porter and Yoshida’s top three best-sellers are the Mile shoulder bag, Senses tool bag, and Mile mini tote bag. A notable part of these bags being the top sellers with Porter and Yoshida is due to the necessity of having a small and compact carry bag, while still being able to store all the necessary items for the day.
In total, Porter and Yoshida have twelve brick-and-mortar stores in Japan with most lying in the Tokyo area. Within those twelve stores, they are broken up into segments based on what specific soft goods are offered in the stores. The offerings within the stores change with newer releases, so it is best to call ahead or check out the main page website to see what is in stock. In addition to their physical stores, Porter and Yoshida has an English-friendly online store as well.
Check out our Guide on Japan Consumption Tax to gain a better understanding to shopping!
BEAMS is a popular brand in Japan better known for its clothing line and many other general goods. However, their soft goods line of everyday carry bags has a good variety of offerings as well. Unlike Porter and Yoshida’s more formal/fashionable style of soft goods, BEAMS offers a more casual style that may match some weekend outfits on off days.
Many of the BEAMS bags have a Japanese style of touch to them, while also having a more vintage/westernized look as well, which may appeal to some since it can match with other everyday carry gear from abroad. BEAMS also has many collaborations with other brands, one of the more notable brands that BEAMS collaborated with in the past is the world-renowned Arc’teryx, known for its high-quality gear. Arc’teryx is better known for their outdoors gear, mainly revolving around camping and hiking. If you are interested in camping or hiking, it may be worth checking them out as well!
Of BEAMS' most popular top three items, there are the BEAMS ARC’TERYX / MANTIS2 Waist Pack, BEAMS T GREGORY × YU NAGABA × ポケモンカードゲーム for BEAMS / SUNNY DAY, and Pilgrim Surf+Supply Pilgrim Surf+Supply / Sacoche.
BEAMS has numerous store locations throughout Japan, and is broken up into the different lines of BEAMS, BEAMS PLUS, Ray BEAMS, BEAMS BOY, fennica, BEAMS JAPAN, TOKYO CULTUART by BEAMS, bPr BEAMS, and B GALLERY. In addition to its physical stores, BEAMS has an English-friendly online store as well. BEAMS is open seven days a week, hours vary from location to location so please check out the official sites for specific locations.
HERZ is a brand that is known for its handcrafted leather goods and has been operational since 1973. HERZ has a wide offering as well of many leather everyday carry goods such as backpacks, briefcases, wallets, etc. However, the main focus of this segment will be their everyday carry leather wallets. HERZ crafts many different types of wallets, all well-designed with the user in mind. HERZ wallets are made of various colors of leather, but most are done in the standard brown leather which can add a lot of character to a leather everyday carry enthusiast’s loadout.
Given that many western countries have a widespread use of leather for goods such as belts, shoes, jackets, etc, a Japanese style leather wallet can accompany that style perfectly. When it comes to everyday carry, mixing and matching colors can become an obsession, which HERZ leather goods can help with when it gets hard to find a matching leather item to one of your current items.
Of the leather wallet lineup, HERZ's top three leather wallets include the wide wallet with cash and coin storage, a coin wallet, and a coin wallet with business card storage. As many leather everyday carry enthusiasts may know, good quality leather tends to look better with age and gains a sense of character, so HERZ wallets are a solid option to consider when finding a Japanese handmade wallet.
In total, HERZ has eight brick-and-mortar stores, all having matching opening hours of 12 pm-7 pm JST. In addition to its physical stores, HERZ has an online store as well. However, it is not English friendly so an in-store experience may help gain a better understanding of the products.
About to go on a shopping spree? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Debit and Credit Cards in Japan!
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What are some suggested items in particular?
Japan, being a relatively compact country, definitely has an impact on its people, even influencing how people carry their items. Noting that space is very precious and every item counts, the following items focus more on some compact items that are easy to carry without losing functionality.
Most of these suggested items have online shopping options, check out our Guide on Japanese Reading article!
Zebra Telescopic Retractable Ballpoint Pen
Zebra is a Japanese pen company known for their high-quality and easy-to-use pens that perform with ease. In some situations where carrying an entire bag or sling to go out becomes a hassle, the Zebra Telescopic Retractable Pens are a great carrying alternative to a regular long pen. The pen retracts down into a more compact size for ease of carrying in a pocket, without being very noticeable.
Extending the pen, it lengthens to the size of a regular-sized pen, unlike other compact pens that end up being smaller and harder to write with. Pens, and particularly compact pens are great to carry because although generally many forms are online, sometimes pens are required (in the city hall, or some other places may expect you to have a pen). These Zebra telescopic pens can be found on Amazon, as well as some Loft or Tokyu hands stores in Japan.
Ricoh GRIII Compact Digital Camera
Being in Japan, there are many moments where there is scenery that is too beautiful not to capture on a camera. While phone cameras have advanced significantly to be able to capture some high-quality photos, there may still be some people who like to have a designated camera for the purpose of shooting photography. One suggested camera is the Ricoh GRIII. While it has its limitations, the Ricoh GRIII is still a very purpose-built and great compact digital camera that can easily fit in a pocket and is about the same size as a computer mouse.
In addition, it is lightweight, making it easy to carry without weighing down a bag or pants pockets. More details about the camera can be found here
As far as function, it is able to take relatively clean street photography shots, food photos, and portraits. It also has some fun film simulation settings that can add an older feeling to photos. Given its size, weight, and functionality, the Ricoh GRIII is a great everyday carry camera. It can be found in various electronics stores like Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera, or it can be found online on Amazon or Rakuten.
If you are planning to take some night shots, check out our article on The Best Things to do in Tokyo at Night to get some more ideas on night-life activities!
Ichihara Wind Resistant Folding Umbrella
Arguably one of the more essential items to everyday carry in Japan is a good umbrella that is designed to be water-repellant, and wind-repellent, and still has a good diameter to cover yourself from rain. In Japan, particularly in areas with taller buildings, the wind tends to be strong and causes rain to fall diagonally. In many cases, people end up having their umbrella flip or even break due to the strong winds. There are alternatives to cheaper umbrellas, however, it is ideal to have a good one in your bag for your daily carry to save money and reduce waste. While on the pricier side, the Ichihara folding umbrella is nice and compact and checks off all the necessary requirements for protecting you from the rainy season of Japan.
Japan’s City of Knives
For many foreigners, when you think of Japan, you think of the world-renowned katana. While you can buy a genuine katana in Japan for a high price, everyday carrying that in your home country would probably cause people to think you are crazy. But don’t worry, there are alternative, more pocketable blades that you can buy in Japan and bring back to your home country when you’re done with your stay in Japan; or if you are simply a collector of sharp tools, there is a large pool of knives to enjoy.
You'll find many local Japanese people in Gifu and new opportunities to make friends, check out our Ultimate Guide to Making Japanese Friends article!
Seki-shi, in Gifu, is known as the city of knives. Even many Japanese-made knives that are sold overseas have the word “SEKI” typically stamped on the blade or handle, marking that it is made there. Every year, Seki-shi hosts an annual knife festival around October, showcasing Japanese craftsmanship from makers and companies all around Japan with thousands of knives. Anywhere from kitchen knives, pocket knives, sewing shears, scissors, and swords, Seki-shi has all the Japanese bladed items available.
The knife festival is a great attraction for foreign everyday carriers, especially if you are looking for Japan-exclusive knives. Particularly, the hand-crafted knives by makers tend to be more exclusive, as they are typically made by older-generation craftsmen and don’t have an international presence (they may not even have an online presence).
Japanese Thrift Shop Everyday Carry Hunting
Japan has a thriving thrifting culture with many great vintage finds for various articles of clothes and miscellaneous items. While not a main thrift item and holds narrow popularity, there are some stores that offer everyday carry items. Some items can include thrifted patches, jewelry items, and pins. In some cases, there are thrifted bags as well that may spark some interest. Occasionally, there are also some old bags and slings that can be of interest to some vintage collectors.
Areas or stores to check out:
Shimokitazawa has many thrifting stores that carry various goods, one of the notable stores with a small section for thrifted patches is Harajuku Chicago Shimokitazawa. Shimokitazawa as a whole is a great area to search for potential thrifted everyday carry items.
Another great location for thrifting is Shinjuku, one notable place is Rodeo Drive Shinjuku. They sell many handbags and luxury items, but they also have a section in the store dedicated for small trinkets that could be added to your everyday carry.
If you are looking for an easy-to-find thrift store, there is a chain thrifting store called Hobby OFF, which is notorious for selling old hobby/collecting related goods which can be used for everyday carry. It may be more challenging to find something here, but it is still definitely worth a look as they sell other items that may cater to your wants.
Everyday carry in Japan holds a perspective on practicality and minimalism while still focusing on functionality and meaningfulness. While the focus may be less on pocket knives and multitools due to laws, there are plenty of other high-quality and useful items available. Japan is home to several renowned brands that specialize in soft goods, such as Porter and Yoshida, BEAMS, and HERZ, offering a wide range of bags, wallets, and other accessories. These brands cater to the needs of urban dwellers, considering factors like commuting and organization. Additionally, carrying compact yet functional items is essential in Japan's compact spaces, and suggestions like the Zebra Telescopic Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Ricoh GRIII Compact Digital Camera, and Ichihara Wind Resistant Folding Umbrella can enhance your everyday carry.
For those interested in knives and bladed tools, Seki-shi is known as the city of knives and hosts an annual knife festival showcasing Japanese craftsmanship. Thrifting enthusiasts can explore the vibrant thrift culture in Japan, with stores in areas like Shimokitazawa offering a chance to find unique everyday carry items, including patches, jewelry, bags, and slings.
Japan offers a diverse range of everyday carry items and experiences, reflecting its distinctive culture and practical approach to daily life. Exploring the local brands, adhering to legal restrictions, and indulging in the thrifting culture can add a touch of uniqueness to your everyday carry assortment, while also showcasing the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship.
You'll need to sharpen up your Japanese when navigating through you everyday carry journey, check out our Guide to Japanese Speaking!
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