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Packing a Bag

Checklist (Pre-Japan)

Be realistic. Be strict with yourself. Do you (honestly) really need it? How long are you intending on staying? How will you bring everything back?

​Please find below a general checklist for pre-Japan it will be a good start on what you need. Reach out to your predecessors and other JETs in your contracted prefecture for advice and information suited to your placement.

Download the pdf version of this checklist:

General things.

Take enough money to last your first month

Approximately 250,000 yen. This is considered a reasonable amount unless bond money is required to be paid upfront – check this with your contracting organisation or predecessor.

Make copies of your important documents

Pack it into both your carry-on and check-in luggage.

Bring business outfits for Tokyo Orientation

Try to pack outfits that do not wrinkle easily. If needed, you can borrow an iron from the hotel.

Pack a basic medical kit in your carry on just in case

It’s better to be prepared than to find yourself wanting. Some of your preferred painkillers and cold and flu medication (without codeine!) can go a long way if you find yourself under the weather due to the sudden change in environment.

It’s also the same situation for footwear!

If you’re above a women’s size 7 or a men’s size 9, stock up before you leave or shop online. You will need a pair of clean, comfortable shoes to wear indoors at (each of) your workplace(s), if you don’t want to carry them around! Also make sure you have some nice, non-holey socks as you will find yourself frequently removing your shoes when indoors.

Bras in Japan are also heavily padded

It’s difficult to find anything bigger than a C cup. Again, bring a decent supply with you or shop online. Triumph is a good brand might need to translate the website.

Music, photos and some reminders of your roots!

A map and flag of NZ, photos of your everyday life, e.g. your home, family, neighbourhood, special events, workplace, university, schools, clubs, or anything really. Also doubles as material to use in your self-introductions!

A credit card or debit card will be useful

Japan is a cash society, but cards and digital pay systems are gaining popularity, like paypay, LINE pay. You can use them to withdraw cash out in emergencies.

Omiyage! Little gifts for your new colleagues!

Nothing fancy and individually wrapped ideally. Maybe something special for the head boss.

You’ll arrive between Summer and Autumn

Pack your clothes accordingly and have your Winter clothes sent later on.

Clothing sizes vary between NZ and Japanese stores

A normal size 12 in NZ is approximately an L/XL in Japan. If you are a female over 168cm or a male over 175cm, you may have some difficulty finding clothes in Japan. In this case, it might be a good idea to bring a decent amount with you or shop online.

Smart casual or office wear is the appropriate style for work

Suits are only expected for formal occasions, such as the opening and closing ceremonies, and graduation. Staff in elementary schools tend to wear sports gear or tracksuits. Jeans are a no-no, as is anything that might be overly tight, clingy, or low cut. Japan is conservative in how they dress, so aim for moderate, and you will be alright in most situations.

Got a full license?Grab an International Driving Permit (IDP)

See here for more information: If your driver’s license renewal falls due during your stay in Japan, renew it before leaving.

Some of your favourite snacks and candy

If you have never been to Japan and are not used to Japanese cuisine having some home snacks and candy to fill that craving can nip that homesick feeling until you find snacks and foods you like in Japan.

things for work

Things for Work.

Having a computer or tablet is useful for work and for personal use. Some schools will have a computer for you to use but don't assume this will happen, you might end up with one of the vintage laptops.

Indoor shoes (clean and never used) for the schools to be used only indoors and if you would like to join in the sports with the kids in the gym, you will need gym shoes as well which are different from outdoor sports shoes. 

Sending to Japan

Sending things to Japan.

As you’ll be travelling economy class to Japan, your allowance is one bag of 23 kgs of check-in luggage but you may take another bag or more if you pay. The more organised you are and the more you send onwards before departure, the smoother your transition to life in Japan will be.


Your hand luggage can weigh up to 7kg. Please follow carefully the guidelines CLAIR sends you about suitcases. They are very strict about taking only one suitcase on the bus with you to Tokyo and send extras straight to your school at the airport! Include in this suitcase anything valuable, your formal clothes for the orientation(s), something to meet your supervisor in, and a few of your omiyage.


Also, remember everything you take on the plane, you will have to carry. Everything else you will need to pack and send over at your own expense. Do this as soon as possible. Organise someone to send your Winter clothes over after you’ve left as you probably won’t need them until October/November when it starts getting chillier.


Unfortunately, you are arriving in the middle of a hot sticky Japanese summer of 30 degrees plus humidity! Address the package to yourself at your school or office (ask if this is okay first), this way you won’t have to go to the post office to collect the box.

Leave behind

Things to leave behind.

• Personal stationery – Japan is THE country for cute, funky, cool, and unique stationery. They’re not only better, but much cheaper in Japan so just buy it when you get there!

• Illegal drugs – There is a ZERO tolerance policy towards illicit drugs and substances and the consequences if you are caught are severe.

• Pornographic materials.

• Certain prescribed drugs are prohibited in Japan. Ensure you have both your prescription and a note from your doctor explaining what the medication is for. Some common medication in NZ is actually illegal in Japan, e.g. any products containing codeine or pseudoephedrine. Your GP can confirm whether your medication can be taken out of the country.

• Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat products. These products are banned by quarantine. Pre- packaged and unopened food products such as biscuits, lollies, chocolates, etc. are fine to take to Japan.

• Plants and animals. Most are restricted or prohibited by quarantine and special import permits are required.

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