Feb 26, 2017

Packing Truths I Wish I'd Known Before Moving To Japan

Don't pack it.

All the things you think that you need, you don't.

Packing Truths I Wish I'd Known Before Moving To Japan photo

This is me packing for Japan. Every. Single. Time. Don't be this way, learn my lessons.

I know, I know. You're feeling all the feels about your stuff. You need all the things. You don't know what you'll be able to buy here in Japan, let alone if products will suit you or if clothes will fit you. I'll let you in on a little secret:

People live in Japan, if not happily at least successfully, every day.

Every thing that you need for your new life in Japan is already here. Why not take the opportunity to embrace the Japanese lifestyle wholeheartedly? Let go of worldly possessions from your old life and start fresh when you arrive. In saying that, there are a few comfort items you may choose to pack...

I've travelled between my home country and Japan quite a few times in the past several years. I always over pack. Always. Without fail. I am THE foreigner lugging the biggest suitcase (recently I discovered I was allowed to take two bags and OMGosh...) around the airport.

However, over time, my packing priorities have changed. At first, I filled my suitcase with a whole new wardrobe. Why did I do that? Well there is this persistent rumour that foreigners can't buy clothes in Japan. So I packed everything plus doubles of my essentials. Brand new work outfits, gym clothes, party dresses, underwear, pajamas... Guess what? The shopping is better in Japan. Yes, sizing is different, things don't always fit perfectly and you'll need to shop around, but I need to do that in my home country anyway. What space was left in my suitcase I filled with toiletries; toothpaste, makeup, face wash, deodorant, moisturiser, sunscreen, etc. Do you know how much those things weigh? A lot! Know something else? You can buy them all online! Websites like iHerb, Amazon JP, and StrawberryNet are just a few that supply toiletries.

Packing Truths I Wish I'd Known Before Moving To Japan photo

Packing Truths I Wish I'd Known Before Moving To Japan photo

Packing Truths I Wish I'd Known Before Moving To Japan photo

That's if you can't buy your favourite brands here in Japan anyway. Better yet, you may discover new ones you love more. Don't go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. You can buy clothes here, obviously, Japan is not a land of naked people. If you wear larger sizes, check out international stores like H&M or shop online at ASOS. Clothes bought in country will suit the climate and for Australians, clothes are so much cheaper here!!! Do pack a couple of loved items or unique pieces to comfort you when you're homesick.

You might be wondering, what, if anything, do I pack these days? Here is a my basic list.

For my husband (who lives off nothing and believes that even putting butter on your toast with peanut butter is extravagant):

  • Toothpaste
  • Jocks
  • Socks
  • Deodorant

The end.
According to him...

For my baby:

  • Teething gel
  • Pain relief
  • Food sachets
  • English toys and books

Only bring these items for immediate use. You can order more from iHerb and Amazon JP, but it saves you needing to tackle the local baby store and drug store amidst settling into a new country.

For myself:

  • Pretty shoes (my feet are 28cm, but I buy men's joggers here because they're cheaper and really nice)
  • Briefs (by choice for my comfort, you can buy briefs here, yes in large sizes too)
  • One of each key beauty product; face wash, deodorant, foundation, shampoo and conditioner for curly hair (again, buy more from iHerb or settle in to your new country and try their products, my favourite face wash and foundation are now from Japan)
  • Birth control (yes, you can get it here, but it takes up minimal space in your luggage and is one less immediate hurdle to tackle in Japanese)
  • Cooking supplies! These are my new favourite essential. Pack items that are light, small, and go far; spices, gravy, marinades, powdered soup mixes, rubs, sauces, jelly crystals, etc. If you've got luggage allowance, throw in a couple of plain cake mixed too, cake is awesome in Japan, but not as awesome as people will think you are if you can produce a homemade batch of perfectly risen cupcakes.
  • Snacks. You think you'll share them, but you won't. That 1kg box of Cadbury Favourites you packed to share around the office? I give it a week before you've convinced yourself that your Japanese friends and colleagues are happy with the touristy pens you gave them and that what they don't know they're missing won't hurt them. Go on, slip into your pajamas and eat your treats.

    That's it.

According to me anyway.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow my blog to hear more from my whitty, informative self.

{ Ashes }

P.S. If you have any packing tips or favourite items be sure to leave a comment below this article. Better yet, note down anything you regret packing. Obviously for me it was clothes. Why on earth did I think I needed so many clothes...



Travel, university exchange, JET Programme, eikaiwa, and a baby in Japan! In my five years here, I feel as though I've collected a few experiences worth sharing.