Travel Guide – Japan: The One About Buying Clothes in Japan, Part 1

You are in Japan and you see a cool shirt or jacket that is your size and you buy it, take it back to the hotel or back to your country and you find out… it doesn’t fit!

Using America as an example, since I am from the United States…for shirts or sweaters, buy two sizes up.

This is a realization that many people learn quickly about clothes in Japan, Japanese sizes are different from American sizes.

I know… this may make you feel overweight but just riding on the train or subway, you’ll be quick to notice that many Japanese are very thin.

But I wear size LARGE (16.5) and when I purchase shirts or sweaters in Japan, I have to look for XXL.

Sure, finding clothes that fit are not easy.  Every foreigner who wears size medium and up face the same situation when purchasing clothes in Japan.  But if you like slim fit type shirts, go one size up.  So, if you are a MEDIUM, then go LARGE.  But if you like a not so slim fit, a little looser, then if you are a MEDIUM, go XL (some stores use LL instead of XL in Japan).  In my case, I wear an American LARGE, so I have to buy Japanese XXL.

If it was a dress shirt, I wear 16.5 in the USA but that means in Japan, I would have to wear a size 42.  Size 15 is 38, Size 15 1/2 is Size 40, Size 16 is 41 and Size 17 is 43.

And as for shoes… Just know that American sizes are for America, go to Japan, UK, Europe or Australia, the sizes are different.

So, please refer to this chart:

I wear a size 11 men’s, so that would be a size 29 shoe.  So, using these charts are helpful.

Fortunately, there are locations where you can try clothes on.  But for foreigners, chances of finding good clothes that fit are in major shopping cities that cater for an international crowd.  Otherwise, if you are in a city or town that doesn’t, unless you are very thin or have small feet, chances of finding clothes that fit can be a pain.

But good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!