Do you need a travel power adapter if you’re visiting Japan from the USA?

If you’re from the United States or Canada, you may be wondering if you need a travel power adapter when traveling to Japan. The answer is maybe, depending on what types of electronics you’re bringing with you. We’ll explain whether or not you need travel power adapters for Japan in this article.

The first thing to understand is that when we’re traveling internationally we care about two different things: first, what type of physical plugs the wall power outlets have. And second, what voltage those local power outlets provide to our electronics. These two considerations are totally separate.

Japan uses a slightly different voltage of power than the US/Canada but the wall power outlets you find in Japan are compatible physically with American and Canadian plugs. More on the voltage issue below. You will find these two types of outlets in Japan (just like the ones at home):

Japanese power outlets

These are called Type A/B power outlets (Type A is the two-prong version; Type B is the three-prong outlet).

As you’ll notice, they’re the typical US-style two and three prong power outlets. While three-prong outlets are the norm in the United States these days, the two-prong outlets are more common in Japan. So if you’re traveling with electronics that have a 3 prong power plug, you’ll want to bring a few three prong to 2 prong converters like this product:

3 Prong to 2 Prong Adapter

This is a simple three-pack of prong adapters for travel or other use. It will allow you to plug in your electronics that have three prong plugs (like laptops or other devices) into outlets that only offer two prongs, like many in Japan.

Since Japan has a lot of two-plug outlets– they’re more common than they are in the USA for instance– it will help you to bring along one or two of these adapters in case you find yourself in a hotel room that only offers two prong outlets.

Do you need a voltage converter when traveling to Japan?

Remember how we said the voltage was different between the US and Japan? Many people wonder things like “do I need to bring a travel adapter for my laptop/MacBook when visiting Japan?” or “do I need a power adapter for my iPhone/cell phone charger when visiting Japan?” People also often want to know if their camera chargers will work in Japan.

Well, here’s the scoop on Japanese voltage compared to North America:

Japanese standard: 50 Hertz/100 Volts

North American standard: 60 Hertz/120 Volts

As you can see, it’s not a huge difference, but it is a little bit different. What does this mean for you practically speaking?

Most sophisticated computerized electronics these days have voltage adapters built in that can switch from 60 Hertz/120 Volt (the US standard) to 50 Hertz/100 Volt (the Japanese standard) without any additional gadgets. Here’s an example of an American iPhone charging brick which adapts voltage to work with Japanese voltage:

You can find that same small print about automatic voltage conversion on devices like Macbook power adapters and many other laptop power adapters. Check for it on the bottom of the power adapter to see if your devices have this feature — many complex items like phones and computers will have voltage conversion for Japan built in.

But electronics that involve heating elements and less complex electronics like a simple hairdryer might need an actual voltage converter to make it compatible with Japanese power outlets, even though it has a normal plug.

Here are a couple of international voltage adapters you can take to Japan to use with a hairdryer or other similar products:

Voltage Converter for International Trave

A voltage converter will be especially if you’re visiting Japan with a device like a hairdryer or a curling iron or a similar product that doesn’t automatically switch to 50 Hertz/100 Volts with its own power charger. This travel power adapter for Japan (and Europe and other places) even includes a built-in surge protector. It plugs directly into the wall with a two prong “Type A” plug (which is perfect for Japan although it also comes with adapters for the UK, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand too).

This travel power adapter for Japan (and other places) provides you with: one three prong North American style plug, one two prong plug, and two USB charging ports which are perfect for charging your cell phone, iPad/tablet, or digital camera in Japan.

Voltage Converter for use with Hairdryers & Other Electronics

This voltage converter works with hairdryers, hair straighteners, and other electric equipment that you might need to travel with. It has a switch on the side which allows you to control which type of voltage you need to convert depending on which country you’re in. This voltage converter for Japan also works in 149 other countries and comes with a set of pop-out plugs so you can fit it into most types of wall sockets that are in common use today around the world.

Note that this is not simply a plug adapter; it’s a full-fledged voltage converter (plug adapters are cheaper, lighter/smaller, and do not convert voltage types so your electronics could still fail to work or get fried if you try to use them in the wrong places).

The bottom line on travel power adapters for Japan – Do you need one?

If you’re traveling to Japan from the US or Canada, we suggest you do the following:

  1. Check all the plugs for your electronic devices to see if they are marked as 50/60 Hertz and 100-120V compatible. If they aren’t marked or are marked only 60 Hertz/120V only, then you’ll need to pick up a travel voltage adapter like this one.
  2. Check if any of your electronics have three-prong power adapters, if they do you’ll want to pick up a few three-to-two-prong power adapters like this one.
  3. Because hotels can often have limited power outlets in convenient locations around the room, you may wish to also get a small travel strip to turn one outlet into many places to plug your gear in:

Surge Protector Travel Power Strip

This is a convenient travel power strip that will allow you to plug in two normal electronic devices like laptops (with either US plugs or European plugs due to the multi-outlet design) as well as up to four USB devices for charging. The self-coiling cord reaches 5 feet in length and comes in a choice of color (black or colorful). This travel power strip works in Japan because it’s compatible with power outlets from 100-240 volts which means it also works in Europe as well. Comes with a convenient travel pouch to carry the power strip in while you’re traveling.

Frequently asked questions about using travel power adapters in Japan

It sounds like I don’t need a voltage converter or anything to visit Japan and use my electronics – is that really correct?

If you’re bringing electronics that automatically convert voltage from North American standards to Japanese standards (like an iPhone charger and a MacBook power adapter) you’ll be fine. But if any of your electronics have a three prong plugs, we recommend buying at least one two to three prong power adapter converters like this one because two-prong outlets are more common in Japan than they are in other “Type A” outlet countries like the US and Canada or Mexico.

What is Japan’s plug type called? What do Japanese power outlets look like?

Japanese power outlets

Japanese power outlets look very familiar to American, Canadian, or other North American visitors since they use the same outlets. The two prong versions are called “Type A” power outlets and the three prong power outlets are called “Type B” wall outlets. Type A/B power outlets are used in the US, Japan, Canada, many Caribbean islands, some South American countries, and some parts of Asia and Africa as well as Mexico.

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