Before you hop aboard the high-speed trains in Tokyo or sample the sushi in Okinawa, you have to know what to pack for your trip to Japan. International travel usually means at least one electric adapter because electrical currents are different depending on the part of the world in which you happen to be. Some of your electronic devices from Europe or North America plug into Japanese outlets and operate without a problem while others do not.

Voltage and Plugs

Standard outlets in Japan operate on 100 volts of electricity. This is different from the United States, which uses 110 volts for both ungrounded type a and grounded type b electrical plug types. Japanese plugs have two flat prongs like many of the 2 prong plugs you see on American electronics, chargers and appliances. The prongs are non-polarized and fit into electrical outlets in the U.S. Some American only plugs have two prongs and those fit into Japan outlets. Any electrical devices from the U.S. with a third prong does not work in a Japanese power outlet. To remedy this you could purchase a voltage converter or adaptor to make sure all of your North American devices from the USA or Canada function properly.

Electric Current

The electricity in the United States runs on a 60-cycle alternating current (AC). With an AC, the electrical charge periodically switches direction, unlike a direct current (DC) in which the electricity flows in one direction. The Japanese electric system is on an alternating current, but the cycle depends on your exact location in Japan. Eastern Japan, east of Mt. Fuji, in places such as Hokkaido, Tokyo and Yokohama, it runs on a 50-cycle Hertz current. In western locations such as Kyoto and Osaka, the electricity is on a 60-cycle Hertz current.

What to Expect

There won't be much of a difference when you're traveling from the U.S. to Japan, according to Rough Guides. You'll be able to operate and charge computers, cell phones and digital cameras. You might notice your hair dryer or portable coffee pot doesn't work quite as quickly or efficiently because the flow of heat travels differently on these electrical currents. Consider investing in a power adapter for these items so you don't end up damaging them or causing electricity loss.

Packing an Adapter

Several universal adapters are affordable and easy to pack. You'll get a few different plugs in one compact unit, which may help with other international trips you might make. The one appropriate for Japan is labeled as such, and you'll be able to plug in anything you pack without worrying about your safety or how it works.