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  1. #1

    Default Packing for Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by flapjack21 View Post
    So I just found out today that I was selected for early departure and will be leaving April 8th. Apparently I'm going to be located way down in Nagasaki Prefecture. I was wondering if we could start a thread about what advice people had on packing.
    That isn't a bad idea, but it is pretty simple:
    -Don't pack things you can buy cheaply/easily here. Pretty much everything you need for daily life can be bought here easily. Bring what you need to survive for a couple of weeks.
    -Do bring a good towel. (You can buy good ones here, but they are not particularly cheap.)
    -If you are a man and wear a size XL or above, pack as many dress clothes as you can get in there. Same if you are a woman over size M/L. Options will be limited.
    -Bring small things from home you'll miss. Comfort food, a favorite book... Whatever you can use as a security blanket.
    -An ereader is a good idea, if you like books. Otherwise you will be at the mercy of the bookshop's English section and the ALT book swap.
    -Omiyage is completely optional. I brought it, lots of other people did, but by no means is it expected. If you do bring it, something small is best.
    -If you are from the US or Canada, most of your electronics will be okay without an adapter, unless they have a three-prong plug. A couple of adapters for those are a good idea.
    -Do bring portable electronics.
    -I personally wouldn't bring a desktop, since you can build a new one here for a reasonable cost.
    -Do rip your favorite TV series and movies and place them on a hard drive.
    -Don't bring uncensored porn. (Apparently this was an issue a few years ago?)
    -In the end, just think about what it takes for you to get through the day. If you think you need something specific, ask us and we'll tell you whether or not it is available or if you should bring it.
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  2. #2
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soooo.....how was everyone's interview??

    I like UTILs list, but I'll warn you that there aren't many ALT book swaps anymore. Most of us in my prefecture have some sort of e-reader device now. Hell, I used to buy books from amazon.jp until I got my iPad and haven't purchased a hard copy of anything since then (that was 2 years ago).
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  3. #3
    Perpetually confused. johnny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soooo.....how was everyone's interview??

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    I like UTILs list, but I'll warn you that there aren't many ALT book swaps anymore. Most of us in my prefecture have some sort of e-reader device now. Hell, I used to buy books from amazon.jp until I got my iPad and haven't purchased a hard copy of anything since then (that was 2 years ago).
    The only hard copy books I've bought have been Japanese history books unavailable on Kobo. The selection is great though.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Teach them something new?? Are you mad? All you do in Japan is rehash the same stuff over and over for 15 years. Hello song, what do you like sports? and fruit basket. The holy trinity of English education.

  4. #4
    Perpetually confused. johnny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Soooo.....how was everyone's interview??

    That's a good list.

    The point of bringing a ereader and some movies and tv shows is a good one. It's hard to know what your situation is, but you might be without the internet for as much as a month (though it will usually takes less if your supervisor is willing to help you), so know that having that entertainment will be really nice.

    The towel is a good idea too. Seiyu department stores do carry proper towels if you end up being near one, but I haven't seen another department store carry good ones.

    I would add that it will get hot not too long after you arrive. A pair of shorts for your off-work time will be a must. You'll also likely be able to wear short-sleeve collared shirts at work, so be sure to have those.

    Keep in mind that you only need to bring these if you're a bigger guy. Smaller and thinner fits are widely available here.

    Uniqlo does carry larger sizes though.

    Also bring a phrase book. It will be handy if your Japanese level is low.

    As for toiletries, deodourant brands available here are limited and weaker. If you have something you like, bring it.

    If you like toothpaste with fluoride, bring it.

    Also, maybe the most important of all, if you have big feet, bring your shoes for the year.

    I'll post more if I think of it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Teach them something new?? Are you mad? All you do in Japan is rehash the same stuff over and over for 15 years. Hello song, what do you like sports? and fruit basket. The holy trinity of English education.

  5. #5
    Comrade therealwindycity's Avatar
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    Default Packing for Japan

    Stock up on deodorant. That's the only daily life item I haven't been able to find here. If you're the type to use stickers or stamps, it might be good to bring some that represent your home area, but otherwise I wouldn't bother bringing a lot of stuff for the kids. If you bring stuff for coworkers and acquaintances, edible things are probably best.

    I second the ereader advice - they're also great for studying Japanese. Kindles come with a built-in dictionary and the kindle store selection in Japanese is steadily growing
    Last edited by therealwindycity; March 12th, 2014 at 09:22.

  6. #6
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    your pred will be able to tell you what clothes to bring as they will know the dress code at your school. No point bringing 5 suits if you are mainly at ES and will be in a tracksuit 95% of the time but you dont want to turn up with only the ill fitting suit your wore to your grandmothers funeral 3 years ago if you are at an academic SHS.

    a phrase book? this was good advice in 1989 but these days I'd just get an app for your phone.
    Last edited by Antonath; March 12th, 2014 at 09:27.
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    Perpetually confused. johnny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    The phrase book isn't that useful once you're have your smart phone, but mine was really helpful for the first two weeks before I got my phone. It was more than worth the 15 dollars.

    The Lonely Planet book also gave a good introduction to Japanese grammar. It was done better than the stupid Clair books.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Teach them something new?? Are you mad? All you do in Japan is rehash the same stuff over and over for 15 years. Hello song, what do you like sports? and fruit basket. The holy trinity of English education.

  8. #8
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    bring your current phone but disable the data connection. it'll be useful to have a dictionary, phrasebook, currency convertor etc. use wifi to load up google maps so you dont get horribly lost when you leave the hotel. Turning up in a foreign country with no smartphone? are you amish?
    Last edited by Antonath; March 12th, 2014 at 09:37.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Be warned it is entirely possible that your predecessor lived in Japan for a few years and been completely oblivious of their own strange behaviour.

    Mine told me that I should give gifts to the principal, VPs and JTEs. That is not how "omiyage" works. If you bring something, bring some kind of sweet or snack that is individually wrapped and leave it in the staffroom so that everyone can try it. Be warned that if you do bring anything you'll have to listen to the chuntering chorus of "gaikoku food is too sweet sasuga" because apparently Japanese polite omotenashi doesn't extend to accepting gifts graciously and not shit-talking your ALTs culture.

  10. #10
    Perpetually confused. johnny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Be warned it is entirely possible that your predecessor lived in Japan for a few years and been completely oblivious of their own strange behaviour.

    Mine told me that I should give gifts to the principal, VPs and JTEs. That is not how "omiyage" works. If you bring something, bring some kind of sweet or snack that is individually wrapped and leave it in the staffroom so that everyone can try it. Be warned that if you do bring anything you'll have to listen to the chuntering chorus of "gaikoku food is too sweet sasuga" because apparently Japanese polite omotenashi doesn't extend to accepting gifts graciously and not shit-talking your ALTs culture.
    Good call. I do something similar with omiyage. I buy a box of chocolates/treats for each JTE and they share it with all the other teachers for their grade. It works pretty well.

    I'm happy to say that I've never had my JTEs trash my gifts.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Teach them something new?? Are you mad? All you do in Japan is rehash the same stuff over and over for 15 years. Hello song, what do you like sports? and fruit basket. The holy trinity of English education.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    I remember this was a huge question in my mind when getting ready to leave for Japan... There wasn't much available on advice on HOW to pack, so during my first couple years on the JET Program I made Video Blogs about the entire JET Process from applying all the way till... well... all the way till I ended up not updating my blog and videos anymore. haha

    Anywho, I'm not sure how much this will help, but I made a Video Blog about HOW I packed for my trip to Japan. Packing rules could have changed and I wouldn't know much about that as it has been 4 years since I made the video, but if this helps you in any way feel free to take a look at the video. It might give you some tips on HOW to pack all the stuff that people are recommending above!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRglPHI3-WQ

    P.S. This is my first post on ITIL

  12. #12
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Hmm yeah, most folks here have already covered the essentials. I would second deodorant, towels, and especially shoes. OMG shoes. If you wear anything larger than a men's US size 10 or so, bring shoes. Ideally, bring a couple of pairs of shoes that can be slipped on with relative ease (regular laced shoes will work if you loosen the laces just right).
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    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

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    Senior Moment Antonath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    I will add my voice to those saying deodorant. Specifically, anti-perspirant deodorant. There are plenty of things that will help you smell ok (or at least not smell of sweat. Describing Axe as "smelling ok" seems wrong), but there is next to nothing that will actually stop you sweating.
    ...because Japan.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    "Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady"
    - Old Spice Man

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    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Ladies should probably bring bras, especially if they're bigger than a B cup. Japanese bras tend to have a shitton of padding and frills and lacy bits. Also, you should bring pants if you have any sort of hip/ass at all or are taller than 5'4".

    As for other lady needs, Japan does have menstrual products, just a smaller selection. Most women here use pads. Tampons are available, but there aren't many brands. Bring some if you're attached to a particular brand for some reason, but Japanese period stuff works fine.

    Birth control is widely available, but you might want to check if you need a particular brand.

    Japan has a lot of Western makeup brands, but they're more expensive and come in limited colors compared to back home. You can find hair and skin care brands like Biore, Pantene, and Dove here, but they might be a little different.

    Like a lot of people have said, the only product I have had trouble finding here is decent deodorant. Almost everything else can at least be found on Amazon, Rakuten, or Foreign Buyers Club.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by coop52 View Post
    Birth control is widely available, but you might want to check if you need a particular brand.
    I was denied twice at the gynaecologist's. Didn't matter that I had a full pelvic exam done (asked the first time), and that I checked out fine (asked a second time) -- I didn't have a serious medical problem that would warrant such a powerful, risky drug, I was told, and so I was denied. I had already paid 3500Y, was made to further waste money on unrelated meds, visited a reputable women's clinic with female gynaecologists (as was my preference), and didn't want more poking and prodding at other clinics by men so I just gave up. It's better to get your yakkan shoumei sorted out at home before coming, in my opinion.

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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by project_4 View Post
    I was denied twice at the gynaecologist's. Didn't matter that I had a full pelvic exam done (asked the first time), and that I checked out fine (asked a second time) -- I didn't have a serious medical problem that would warrant such a powerful, risky drug, I was told, and so I was denied. I had already paid 3500Y, was made to further waste money on unrelated meds, visited a reputable women's clinic with female gynaecologists (as was my preference), and didn't want more poking and prodding at other clinics by men so I just gave up. It's better to get your yakkan shoumei sorted out at home before coming, in my opinion.
    You should bring some with you and be prepared to shop around. I never tried when I was in the inaka, but I know many who drove to the nearest (but not too near) big city, visited a recommended/foreign friendly clinic (yay google). You may have to go to a couple different clinics, or even travel a fair distance, but I know many who were successful. I also know many who had bad experiences.
    There are two things you will need to keep in mine. If you need the pills for health reasons, you will need to visit the clinic every month, and only be able to get one month at a time. It will be covered by insurance. If you are taking the pills for other purposes, you will not need to visit more than a few times a year for a physical, and you will be able to get (usually) three months at a time. It will not be covered by insurance, but shouldn't cost much more than under insurance with check ups included. Also depending on the policy of the clinic you may not even need to meet with the doctor when you pick up a refill.

  18. #18
    Senior Member osakavamp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by AVN View Post
    You should bring some with you and be prepared to shop around. I never tried when I was in the inaka, but I know many who drove to the nearest (but not too near) big city, visited a recommended/foreign friendly clinic (yay google). You may have to go to a couple different clinics, or even travel a fair distance, but I know many who were successful. I also know many who had bad experiences.
    There are two things you will need to keep in mine. If you need the pills for health reasons, you will need to visit the clinic every month, and only be able to get one month at a time. It will be covered by insurance. If you are taking the pills for other purposes, you will not need to visit more than a few times a year for a physical, and you will be able to get (usually) three months at a time. It will not be covered by insurance, but shouldn't cost much more than under insurance with check ups included. Also depending on the policy of the clinic you may not even need to meet with the doctor when you pick up a refill.
    This is why I am getting a IUD before coming to Japan.
    Last edited by osakavamp; April 25th, 2014 at 12:28.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Where do you put your external hard drive? In your carry-on or your checked luggage? I'm pretty sure only laptops have to be scanned separately from the rest of your carry-on, at least domestically. They wouldn't need to scan any peripherals, right?

  20. #20
    Senior Member osakavamp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Packing for Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by osakavamp View Post
    This is why I am getting a IUD before coming to Japan.
    LADIES: Following up on this. I got my IUD today and while the procedure itself sucked (make sure you take the recommended dose of ibuprofen beforehand) I'm protected for five years from teh preggars and Japanese doctors are familiar with this form of birth control if I ever need to get checked out. So weigh your options.


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