How A Cult Designer Packs For Japan

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Ulla Johnson has mastered a certain level of sophisticated-boho elegance. Her covetable collection perfectly fuses ethereal with ethnic, statement-making with totally wearable. The designer herself radiates an undeniable casual cool even as she frequently jet-sets from her home in New York City to exotic locations around the globe. Naturally, when she mentioned she was traveling to Japan we simply had to know what she packed. Here, her vacation essentials along with a few snaps from the memorable trip—which are every bit as stylish as we expected.

Always Travel With A Selection Of Accessories

"On the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. Spoiler alert: it's fast. "

The Lightweight Scarf

“These scarves are amazing—soft, feminine and lightweight. They're a must-have for all flights and air-conditioned commutes.”

The Printed Tote

“I always have one of these bags with me for impromptu purchases because it folds flat and small (read: more space in the suitcase) and the print is groovy.”

Love Adorned Bandana Bag, Price Upon Request.

The Felt Hat

“I wear a big hat with everything, they are an easy way to add character to an outfit or just offer sun (or rain) protection! I love Clyde hats and the designer Dani is someone I have collaborated with before so I'm always traveling with one of these styles. ”

Stay Like A Local

"Rather than staying at a western hotel we opted for a ryokan—a traditional Japanese inn. Guests are served multi-course meals in their rooms and sleep on tatami mats—it was such an amazing experience."

The Cozy Top

“My absolute favorite piece from my spring collection, this lightweight crochet-stitch top is inspired by Moroccan wedding blankets and features a pretty hand-knotted fringe. It is equally perfect for sightseeing or relaxing in the room.”

Get To Know Your New Neighborhood

"The quaint, pristine neighborhood around my ryokan in Kyoto looked beautiful even in the rain."

The Comfortable Jean

“I love these flares and wear them with everything. They are far more comfortable (and stylish) than my tired skinny jeans, making them my vacation-wardrobe workhorse.”

Sample The Local Cuisine

"Markets are a great way to enjoy a new city. My (very adventurous) son even tried baby octopus at the food market in Kyoto!"

The Beauty Staple

“This Rodin oil is my most essential beauty item. Not only does it smell amazing but it gives dehydrated, jet-lagged skin a beautiful glow.”

Travel On Foot

"One of my favorite walks was along the philosophers path in Kyoto—try and visit during the sukara (cherry blossom) season to catch the beautiful pink flowers in full bloom."

The Cross-Body Bag

“My friend Kate Huling designs this line of beautifully made handbags from the hides of animals used in the restaurants she and her husband own in Brooklyn—Diner, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, Romans—all my favorites. It is like taking a little piece of home with me when I travel, plus the cross-body style is a no-brainer when sightseeing.”

Visit Local Artisans

"As a designer I try to meet local artisans and learn about their craft. This is a rainbow of colored silk threads in an obi weaver's workshop we were lucky enough to visit."

The Day-To-Night Blouse

“I always travel with my essential button-up which is rendered in the softest Indian cotton and finished with hand stitching. It can take me from day-to-night with the simple addition of jewelry.”

Take Photos!

"While you can't always capture the experiences you have on film, take as many shots as you can. I love this ethereal, fairytale-like photo of the gardens in Kyoto."