If you have accepted a job teaching English in Japan, and are about to start packing your bags for a year's adventure abroad, here is a list of a few things you might need while over there.

Things to pack for a year teaching in Japan

  1. Your laptop
    For most people, this is something they cannot live without. However, now smart phones can come close to meeting all your social media needs - skype, facebook, etc is how you stay in touch with family back home and new friends here. Still, many consider this a necessity.
    Note: Setting up internet in your apartment can take a while if it's not already available.
    Also: If you plan to buy a computer, it might be helpful to buy it here where it will come with a Japanese keyboard though it isn't necessary to write in Japanese.
  2. Adapters
    You will probably want to bring more electronics than just your laptop, and for all of them you will need an adapter.
    Japan power runs at 110V, and 50 or 60Hz (but most equipment is fine with either 50/60Hz). If you are coming from USA, your plugs should fit, and your laptop (and other electronics) adapter should be able to handle the different voltage, just make sure it has a voltage adapter box as part of the power cord. Check the input voltage includes 110V.
    You can also buy adapters in Japan, but if you think you might want to use your laptop or other electronics from the first day and don't want to bother running around trying to find an adapter then bring one with you.
    A great trick is to bring a multi-adapter from your home country then all you need is a single adapter and you can plug in all you electronics into the pre-converted multi-adapter!
  3. Gifts
    Also known as omiyage (お土産). Whenever people go on vacation or visit somewhere kind of far away, they will bring back to the people in their office/family/friends a small gift. This is generally food, and is little more than a single biscuit or a chocolate for each person (individually wrapped). Bringing something like this for your B.O.E. is a good way to ingratiate yourself with your to be colleagues.
  4. Teaching props
    It can help you through your first lessons on your first day at new schools (and it makes you look really good) if you bring a few props. Your first lesson is likely to be a self-introduction, so bringing a few things that show off your country and hometown is a great idea.
  5. A full, four seasons wardrobe
    Japan is really hot in the summer (except Hokkaido) and ranges from mildly cold to extremely cold in winter depending on what part of Japan you are in. The seasonal highs and lows differ from place to place. Packing wisely can save you money which you might rather spend on travel adventures in your weekends and vacations.
    Keep in mind also that not only is it hot and cold outside but Japanese housing is known to be terrible for insulation/heating/cooling.
    If you need something extra then you should be able to find clothes here or order online. However, if you are very tall or big, and if you have large feet (size 12 or over), you will have trouble finding your size.
    If you are wondering what clothes you should bring to Japan regarding work, you should bring clothes to look professional. For both men and women, a suit with jacket for the office is good, but when at school and teaching this may be a bit restrictive, especially with younger students.
  6. Prescriptions
    If you are taking prescription medicine, or if you have prescription contact lenses/glasses it is a good idea to get these renewed before you come to Japan and ask for enough to last you a year (if that is possible).
    If visiting a hospital in a foreign country and in a foreign language (although a lot of hospitals may have someone who speaks some English) doesn't bother you, then just bring your prescription and you can show a doctor in Japan - most medicines can be found in Japan and a doctor can prescribe you the exact same thing if not something similar.
    Note: If you bring pain medicine, be sure that it does not contain codeine as this is a restricted (illegal) substance in Japan and getting in trouble in Japan is much more serious than getting in trouble in other countries.
  7. Toiletries
    Do you use a specific type of shampoo? Toothpaste? Antiperspirant? You can find these things is Japan, but it can be difficult without help to determine which shampoo is anti-dandruff, which toothpaste has fluoride or is whitening and is the body spray just deodorant or is it antiperspirant too? Ladies also might have trouble figuring out which pads are for heavy or light flow, etc.
    So not to say you can't find these things here - around the world we all have the same basic needs, but sometimes it can be tricky.
    Note: Some people have fears about products here being inferior. Unless you are super attached to the kind you use, you can find these items in Japan, and they are just as effective.

With regard to daily items (in 5, 6 and 7 above), you can get most things in Japan though it might make things easier for you to bring enough for the first month or two, so that you don't have to worry about that stuff while you are setting up and/or getting settled.
Another reason to bring a good initial supply is some things you may need to get online, and it can take up to a month or more to get internet installed in apartments that don't have it.

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