Important items you won’t want to forget to pack!
Studying in Japan is a wonderful experience whether you’re going for the food, pop culture, or just out of curiosity and love for traveling. Even after completing two study abroad trips in Japan (Japan Then and Now, a three-week faculty led program, along with a one-year exchange at J.F. Oberlin), there were still items I would be missing from home. Japan is a wonderful country to explore and try new things, however, here are some essentials that you should keep in mind when packing for your big trip abroad. Here are 5 items to make sure you have packed into your suitcase before departing!
This seems to be something that many people do not realize before going to Japan, but in Japan most stores do not sell many options for deodorant. The very few, small sticks that you could find are around 700 yen a piece (around $7) and are not very strong and will not protect you in the Japan humid summers. Japan also sells many spray-on deodorants which only mask the smell, and Japan does not commonly sell antiperspirant deodorants. Despite the amazing cosmetic and drug stores in Japan, they do not have deodorant that compares to that in the US. After my first short study abroad in Japan, I packed 4 sticks of deodorant for my year abroad, which lasted me the entire year!
- 2 Prong Adapter
If you’re going to be staying in an international dorm or hostel in Japan, you might get lucky with the building having three-prong plugs (J.F. Oberlin’s international dorm 1 and 2 are both equipped with three-pronged plugs). However, most buildings in Japan only use two prongs. So, if you plan on going to a coffee shop, cat café, or older building to do homework on your computer that uses a three-pronged plug, this is a necessity! These can be found online for just a few dollars and will save you the time and energy to enjoy Japan without any small and annoying complications.
If you love snacks and candy like I do, bringing a stock of your favorite US snacks is a necessity. While candy and snacks in Japan are delicious, you’ll still be craving those favorites from home. Everything from cheesy snacks, chocolate, and gummy candies are quite different in Japan. While Japan does have some US snacks and candy in the grocery stores and Don Quijote, snacks like Cheetos and Doritos have different types of cheese on them and are overpriced compared to US prices. My go to snacks to pack for my year abroad were Twizlers, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, and salt and vinegar chips.
Omiyage (a gift or souvenir) is a huge part of Japanese culture and it is common curtesy in
Japan to always bring an Omiyage whenever you come from another country. Omiyage are typically small and inexpensive gifts that would be a general or common gift from your home country. For example, great omiyage gifts from Kansas would be KU merchandise, BBQ sauce, goatmilk soap, and locally made snacks. Other general goods that represent your home country would also work. Omiyage are usually given to good friends, homestay families, teachers, coworkers, and bosses. The omiyage should also be appropriate for the person receiving it, such as snacks and candy for kids and house wears, office supplies, or cooking material for adults. Omiyage are a very important part of Japanese culture and shouldn’t be forgotten!
- Tampons or Pads
For those with common, reoccurring menstrual cycles, having a supply of sanitary products will be a huge help! Tampons in Japan are extremely scarce and hard to find. If you do find tampons, they will be in very few quantity, expensive, and scented! Those from the US aren’t used to using scented tampons, which could be irritating for some people. It would also be difficult to distinguish between scented and unscented ones for those who don’t understand any Japanese. While there are pads in Japan in just about every konbini or drug store, they come in small packs and again are quite expensive (unless you can find a Cosco), so it is best just pack a large box or two to get you through your study abroad!