Continuing my information about preparing for Japan, here is some of what I am bringing with me based on information that has come from my program and from friends who have studied in Japan in the past. Some things are a bit unusual that you may not need to think about as much going somewhere else, and some are more general for packing in general.
1) Deodorant, razors, and other feminine products
Perhaps the most surprising thing I didn’t expect to pack, at least not enough to get me through 4 months in Japan! But for whatever reason, you can’t buy deodorant (or the American kind of deodorant) in Japan. I don’t know why…maybe Japanese people don’t sweat? I was also advised to bring enough deodorant and feminine products to last me all four months, not by my program, but through friends who have spent a semester in Japan and know what they are talking about.
2) Sturdy Shoes, varied but not too many
I am really having a hard time narrowing down my shoe choices. I am for sure bringing my good pair of tennis shoes and a pair of boots for the colder weather, but it really is hard to back for September through December! In addition, I have been advised by friends that you should be prepared to throw away the shoes you bring with you because they will be so worn out when you return from all the walking. One of the hardest things that I need to consider is having shoes for walking/touring around, for school, and for my internship. This basically runs the gammet of casual to formal, in addition to thinking about the weather… >.<
3) Good Socks
This is something I had not particularly thought about, but I will be with a home stay and shoes are always taken off inside the house. My family is like this too for the most part, but we don’t really care what our socks look like–partially because we don’t really get down on that level much. However, my program advised me that Japanese people notice socks more, especially because there is a higher likelihood that you will be kneeling on the floor together.
4) Versatile Clothes
September in Tokyo is hot and muggy–usually in the mid 80s with frequent rain showers. However, winter in Tokyo is cold–usually in the mid 30s-mid 40s. OK, that is not as cold as Minnesota, and there won’t be as much snow, but it is a big weather gap when you are trying to pack two suitcases. Because of this I am packing things that I can layer, and so I can use my warm weather clothes underneath sweaters and jackets to create warmer outfits. I will be in Tokyo, which is an expensive city. I have been warned that things like jeans are particularly expensive, and even if you plann on purchasing things like shirts or just some light, suvinour-type shopping, you should bring all the pants/shorts you think you will want while you are abroad.
Although I rarely take medication, I am going to go prepared. I am bringing simple things such as Motrin as well as a filled perscription for Tamaflu in the case I get the flu while I am there. This may not seem too out of the ordinary in terms of packing, but one important thing I have been told is to keep the medication in the original bottle. Depending on how many medications you are planning to take with you, this may take up more space than you think! (Especially when you have a mother like I do, who is trying to send me with bottles of vitamin D, fish oil, charcoal pills, calcium…..)
6) Electronics…AND ALL THE CORDS!
While it might be hard to forget your computer–its pretty large and important–it would be very easy to forget some vital cord or other such attachment. For me, the thing I am trying my best to make sure I pack is my camera battery charger. My camera has an abnormal, square, rechargable battery–and if it runs out I don’t really have any options besides using the charger it came with! The last couple trips I went on I forgot the charger, so I am determined to bring it with me this time! Also, this is something you can purchase once you get there or even at the airport, but Japan has a different plug-in style than America, so that is also very important! My multitude of electronics won’t be of any use if they aren’t charged.
7) Important Documents AND Copies
I have spent so much time attaining all my necessary documents, there is no way I will leave without them! But it is important to not only have the document itself, but a copy of the document as well. In addition to that, I have copied all of the documents I have (important and otherwise) to give to my parents, if for some reason they need to have any of that information while I am gone.
8) Hair Products and other Toiletries, especially Toothpaste
This is a grey area for me. I will be with a host family and I will have access to stores that sell things like shampoo and hairspray if I don’t bring these things with me. However, I don’t know if this is like the deodorant situation, where I should bring the hair products I use because I am familiar with them… and I have thin curly hair which is very different from thick straight hair in terms of styling! I also can’t decide it I want to bring my hair straightner with me…. hmmmmm…..
ALSO, I have heard that Japanese toothpaste is weird… Is this true?? (After I posted this a friend told me that Japanese toothpaste is very grainy and not at all like the stuff in the US)
9) Hand Sanitizer
As soon as I posted this several friends messaged me about bringing hand sanitizer when I am out and about. From what I can tell, it is very typical that Japanese bathrooms (in public anyway) don’t have soap. Or towels/hand driers. Japan seems like such a clean place in so many ways, so this really stumps me. I have also noticed it with Japanese friends here (not that I am spying on them or anything) but they often don’t use soap even when it is present–most likely because of the habit of not using it in Japan.