What to Bring to Japan?

What to Bring to Japan?

If you land a job to teach in Japan, you may be surprised at what is difficult to get and actually easy to get in this part of Asia.

by Kevin Burns

As well as bringing the essentials–cool clothes for summer and warm clothes for winter (unless you want to ship some of the above).

Bring only what you feel you will really miss. I miss the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. They weren`t willing to come with me to Japan, damn it! They did thankfully play a couple of games in Tokyo though. Of course I went!


If you need your favourite music, bring it! You really do need some things from home. They will balance you and keep you sane in a very foreign culture.

What to Bring – Shoes and Clothes

Bring shoes you can easily take on and off. You have to take them off whenever you enter someone`s home.

A large hat is good for spring to fall. The sun here is intense from early spring to fall.

For me it is difficult to buy large sized shoes. But it is no longer impossible. Yet I still recommend bringing them if you have large feet for your gender. Japanese for the most part are still pretty small. If you are a very large man or woman you may have to buy most of your clothes online. I am 6′ 2″ and currently weigh a little under 200 lbs and I can buy many of my clothes here. But the selection is severely limited!

For example:

I often have one choice– the only pair of black dress shoes that fit me in the shop. For variety, I buy shoes when I go back to Canada or to the U.S.

I have problems getting shirts with sleeves long enough, but short sleeved shirts for work in summer are no problem and suits are not a problem.

*If you are big back home, you will find it difficult to find clothes here. So bring what you need.

LL Bean is a good option for me and when back home I buy clothes.

Most of what you will need in Japan is now available here and it isn`t as expensive as it used to be.


Bring your prescription medicines in your carry on baggage to Japan–in case your bags get lost; and once here you can

(Pictured: grape picking in Japan by Devanshe Chauhan) order them online from International Pharmacy Or from one of the other international pharmacies that ship to Japan. The shipping is very reasonable and quick. Just be sure to check which drugs or medicines are banned from Japan, and also if not banned, how much can be imported for personal use.

Usually it seems that you can import one months supply of most over the counter medicines or prescription medication.

*I had a shipment of multivitamins confiscated. Surprising I know! Japan is protecting her own pharmaceutical industry. You can buy vitamins here easily, you don`t need to bring them.

But many prescription medications can be imported for personal use with a prescription from your doctor.

Again just be sure to only order one month`s supply.

What to Bring – Pain Relief

I always bring generic ibuprofen or generic Tylenol from home. It is cheaper back home, the bottle is larger and so is the choice.

If you don`t know this, you can save a lot of money by purchasing the generic brand of the pain reliever or allergy medication. In Canada this is usually the pharmacy`s own brand ie) Life brand from Shopper`s Drug Mart. The ingredients are usually almost identical to the leading brand at much less cost. My brother is a doctor and recommends getting the generic for pain relief.

Pain Relief Medicines in Japan:

Bufferin is available here. You can sometimes get Bayer aspirin.

Japanese Doctors and Getting your Meds Here

*You can of course get medicine from your local doctor in Japan, but most don`t take appointments so it is very time consuming, sometimes taking up to two hours! As well they sometimes only give you two weeks supply. So that means you have to go back and do it all over again. The other thing is that Japanese cold or allergy medicine causes drowsiness. So you may want to avoid that by bringing Claritin or Reactin from home.

One of our local doctors gives us one months supply of allergy medicine and she takes appointments. She is rare however.
Toiletries and Others

What to Bring – Bring deodorant!

Japanese deodorant tends to be weak. You can sometimes find Ban roll on here, but it is difficult to get good deodorant. So bring it before you come.

Once here and settled–with your own address, you can start ordering from shops like The Flying Pig (Costco) or The Foreign Buyer`s Club, to get some of the above things.

What to Bring – Getting your Work Visa after arrival?

Then be sure to bring your original transcripts and degree. You will need those to get your work visa (Certificate of Eligibility).

Gifts and Gift Giving

Japan is a country of gift givers. I love getting gifts!

Bring some nice little gifts from home that you can give to your future Japanese teacher and your students and Japanese friends.

From Canada I often bring maple cookies, maple syrup or some other kind of typically Canadian souvenir.

What else should you bring to Japan?

The public bathrooms here usually lack anything to dry your hands with. You may want to bring some handkerchiefs for that purpose.

Japan is the land of electronic products but that doesn`t mean they are cheap. You may want bring a digital camera from home.

You may also want to bring a 3 prong outlet adapter as in Japan the outlets just have two prongs.

Everyone lives close together in Japan. Every morning in my apartment in Nagoya, I woke up to the ping, ping, ping of the batting practice of the high school next door. It was my alarm clock.

You may want to bring some ear plugs and a white noise maker. White noise makers are reasonably priced and can do wonders for you in a thin-walled apartment in Japan.

What should you do before you come to Japan?
We have covered what to bring, but what about your first steps on your journey to Japan?
What to Bring to Japan: Travel Related

What to Bring – Japan Rail Pass

If you will be coming to Japan on a tourist visa, and you are planning on doing some travel while here, (and you really should!) Get a Japan Rail Pass before you come.

The following conditions apply:

You must come on a tourist visa. You must purchase it before entering Japan.

You must buy it from an overseas Japanese travel agency that sells them.

The price is fixed in Yen so may vary in your currency.

When you arrive in Japan go to the Japan Rail Pass exchange office or a JR (Japan Rail) Travel Centre.

You tell them the date you want to start your travels and that is the date from which your Japan rail pass will start. They will stamp it with an expiration date.

What to Bring – a Dictionary

Bring or buy a good English-Japanese dictionary. It will help you in your travels here and in your daily life.

A Thank you!

Thanks to the readers of our Japan Living Forum for their suggestions for this page and others at our sites!

How to Teach English in Japan Forum at Facebook

My First 2 years in Japan

First Steps – Coming to Japan

TEFL Scams

On the Future of Education in Japan and Abroad

Land of the Rising Gas

I Just Didn’t do it!

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
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