Power converters for Japan - Do you need a converter for Japan?

What is a power converter?

Power converters allow you to use a 220-240 volt electrical device with a 100 volt Japanese power outlet.

Also known as: electrical converter, electrical transformer, voltage converter, power transformer or voltage transformer.

What is the difference between a power converter and a power adapter for Japan?

A heavy and bulky power converter [3] will convert a 100 volt Japanese power outlet to work with a non-100 volt appliance, but a more lightweight and cheaper power adapter (or plug adapter) will change the shape of the plug on your appliance to fit into a power outlet found in Japan.

Do I need a power converter for Japan?

When you are travelling to Japan from another country ensure that your device can accept a 100 volt power supply.

  • You need a step up power converter [4] if you are visiting Japan from a country that uses 220-240 volts and your device or appliance isn't compatible with 100 volts. See our list of world power outlets guide to find out the voltage your country uses.
  • You shouldn't need a power converter if you already own either a 100 volt single voltage appliance or one that is dual voltage.
  • Typically, devices which originate from a different country which use a higher voltage (for example 220 volts) and then used in a 100 volt power outlet may take longer to charge or won't power up. If your device doesn't power up or recharges slowly when you are travelling to Japan from another country check that it will work with a 100 volt power supply otherwise you will need a step up power converter [4].
  • You shouldn't need a converter if you wish to charge a smaller electrical device such as a cell phone or laptop as these are normally support dual voltage and designed for international use, but always always check the device for dual voltage support first.
  • If powering appliances which draw more power or generate heat (such as hair straighteners or clothes irons) then you will need to use a bulkier higher wattage heavy duty power converter [5].
  • It could be more cost effective to bring a robust lightweight dual voltage travel appliance than bringing a heavier high wattage power converter just to use your existing domestic appliance.
  • Read our comprehensive guides on how to use clothes irons, curling wands, hairdryers and hair straighteners in Japanese power outlets , along with guides for affordable dual voltage alternatives.

What converter do I need for Japan?

To use any 220-240 volt appliance in Japan you need to use a step up power converter [4].

What is the difference between a power transformer and a converter?

Voltage converter

What is the difference between a power transformer and a converter?

Converters and transformers are both used to change one voltage to another, but this ambiguity can cause confusion as their purposes are different:

  • Power converters are designed for simple electrical appliances which typically generate heat or use motors such as clothes irons, shavers or hair dryers. Transformers are designed for more complex electronic items such as televisions or games consoles.
  • Buying a power converter is cheaper than buying a power transformer.
  • Power transformers are larger and heavier making them more suited for permanent residential use; for example an expat wishing to use an imported television would need to use a transformer for this purpose.
  • Power converters are more suitable for travellers wishing to bring domestic appliances abroad such as hair dryers or flat irons. However, it is more practical and cost effective to purchase a dual voltage appliance designed for travel rather than a heavier power converter.
  • Power converters are suitable for 2 pin ungrounded appliances, it could be harder to find a converter if you want to use a grounded 3 pin appliance.
  • Transformers can be used constantly however it is recommended that converters are used for no longer than a couple of hours at a time.
  • Shops may sell transformers under the name of converters, for the purposes this guide we will be referring to both converters and transformers as converters.

How to convert 100 volts to 220 volts

  1. Use a step up power converter [4] to allow you to use 220, 230 and 240 volt appliances with a 100 volt Japanese power outlet.
  2. If the power converter doesn't include the correct shaped plug then it will also be necessary to plug in the power cord from the power converter into a power adapter for Japan before plugging that into a Japanese power outlet.
  3. Some power converters include the ability to perform both step up and step down voltage conversions, therefore it may be necessary to manually switch the converter to output the voltage from 220-240v.
  4. Plug your appliance into the converter and turn the power on, your 220-240 volt appliance can now be used with a 100 volt Japanese power outlet.

What voltage does Japan use?

Japan uses 100 volts in their standard power outlets.

How can I tell if I have a dual voltage device?

Single voltage hair straighteners

How can I tell if I have a dual voltage device?

The best method to tell if a device is dual voltage or single voltage is to look for either a sticker or numbers printed on the existing charger or on the appliance itself, typically near to where the power cord goes. The location might depend on the make or model of your device but should also state in the instruction manual or on the box.

  • Single voltage devices might have a specific number - such as 120V.
  • Single voltage devices might also have a small voltage range (around 20 volts) with a dash to accomodate small voltage fluctuations - such as 220-240V.
  • Dual voltage devices will say a larger range separated with a slash - such as 110/240V.

  1. https://www.japan.travel/en/ - Japan National Tourism Organization Web Site.
  2. http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/ - International Electrotechnical Commission World Plugs
  3. Power converter - A step up step down power converter converts 110-120 volts up to 220-240 volts and 220-240 volts down to 110-120 Volts, £100-£110.
  4. Step up power converter - A step up power converter allows a 220-240 volt appliance to be used in a 100-120 volt power outlet, estimated price under £90.
  5. Heavy duty power converter - A 5000 watt heavy duty step up and step down power converter used to convert voltages for domestic appliances, power tools, televisions, heating appliances and motors, estimated price under £110.