So I landed in Narita last night, it was a loooooong flight. Just wanted to make a quick post. It was an effort getting to the hotel and everything but I will write about that later. My friend and I were going to record a quick podcast episode and I had everything with me… except the microphones which I packed in a separate bag -_-. I’ll be writing more tonight (my time), until then!

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So here we are on the final segment of my first multi-part series on Corbin in Japan, to be honest I kind of write things with only an idea in mind and then going from there. Doing this website and subsequently describing how I pack has been a good mental and writing exercise for me and I hope it has been at least semi-informative (and perhaps a little entertaining) to those who have been reading it.

I really do appreciate any feedback so please don’t hesitate to email or leave me a comment. I have some plans for the future of the website, including starting a podcast, which would only exist for the five months that I will be in Japan. I’ve already purchased the hardware and downloaded the software to make it a reality. After I land in Japan on August 16th, we’ll see how it works out. I’m hoping it comes out decent. In any case without further ado lets get started on Part III, shall we?

“How long will I be staying?”
I will be staying in Japan for a total of five months so like I mentioned in Part II, I will be packing about two weeks worth of clothes. When I pack clothes for traveling or moving I tend to think of the purposes they will serve so I tend to group them in categories.

  • Dress or formal wear
  • Casual wear
  • Sports wear
  • Shoes

I plan to take one suit with me, and several dress shirts, two blazers, as well as a good pair of khaki pants which can double for casual wear as well. That’s just usually the style of clothes that I wear. As far as strictly casual wear, I plan to take several polo shirts and t-shirts, three pairs of shorts, and two pairs of jeans. To go along with these categories I am taking one track jacket, one pull-over hoodie, one zip-up hoodie, and a leather jacket for when it gets colder. As far as sports wear I will be taking three pairs of basketball shorts, and a few t-shirts that I’m not afraid of getting sweat on ^_^ .

For shoes I will be taking three pairs of casual shoes, one pair of basketball shoes, and one pair of dress shoes. And of course pack enough underwear and socks for two weeks time. I try to pack minimally but I also like to be prepared, this is a little more than I would usually pack but that is mainly because I have never been to a foreign country for more than a week and a half, not to mention taking into account the answer to the next question.

“How available are replacement items?”
I’m 5’11” (180cm) tall, wear a men’s size 11 shoe, and am an overall large dude. Which translates in Japanese to we don’t have clothes for you, at least not easily to find. If it would be easier to find clothes while I’m in Japan I probably wouldn’t pack quite as much just to save on shipping charges (which I will mention in tomorrow’s post).

I plan on taking a few good sized English language books with just so I have something to read if I want to, as well as several American movies. Bringing American movies with you is a good idea on many levels. First, you will have movies that you can watch without subtitles (which I don’t mind); and second, Japanese people like American movies (at least the ones I have talked to) so they will want to watch them with you as well, making it a good way to meet people. Besides a few books and movies I don’t plan on taking too many English language things with me.

“What will I need?”
I’ve already mentioned the clothes end of what I will be packing which is probably the largest part. Now that I have that set aside I can go one to other things that I will need. For me, I need a computer. I am going to be bringing along both my laptop (1.5Ghz Powerbook G4) and my desktop (Intel single core Mac Mini) as well as my 19″ LCD monitor and a slim line set of speakers. Luckily the Mac Mini et al fit in my 29″ stand up rolling luggage quite well.

A note on all electronics, Japan does not have a grounding prong on their sockets, for whatever reason. If you plan to bring any electronics with you I would recommend bringing two power-strips and buy two Three-Prong Grounded Plug Adapters for a Two-Prong Wall Outlet, that way you will be able to plug in just about any electrical item you bring with you.

Here is a tip for packing electronics and other things, do not pack them in the boxes-wrap clothes around them. It saves room because you are not using any extra packing material (styrofoam or packing peanuts), and serves the same purpose: to insulate so that things are not damaged. I am also taking an English-Japanese dictionary with me. You should also pack toiletries: shampoo, deodorant, a towel, electric shaver, etc. Whatever you think you will need.

As far as organization with your luggage goes, remember that you will have three pieces of luggage (if you are using American Airlines, keep in mind the limits for whatever airlines you decide to use), don’t be afraid to distribute your items between the bags, be sure to keep each individual bag below the weight limit as well. You will want to keep the most immediately needed items in your carry-on piece of luggage, as well as an extra set of clothing, just in case your checked luggage gets lost by the airlines.

“What else can I fit that I want?”
Now that the essentials are packed I have extra room for anything else I want to bring with me. I plan on bringing my Wii and my Nintendo DS Lite with me to Japan. I have room for both, the Wii I will pack with the checked luggage that will be sent on ahead to Kansai Gaidai before I arrive there. The DS I will pack in my carry-on so I will have some short term amusement both on the plane and in Japan. I will also be packing the podcasting equipment that I bought so I will have to find room for that as well. With that I am pretty much fully packed.

After you have finished packing, weigh your luggage to make sure that everything is according to the limits set by the airlines. If something is over the weight limit redistribute some into your other luggage to meet the requirements. After you have everything all packed and meeting all conditions made by the airlines you are all set. Next post, which will be the final post outside of Japan (!!!), I will cover money, and other last minute things before you board the plane, so until then!

The Art of Packing, Part I
The Art of Packing, Part II
The Art of Packing, Part III

Last we left off I outlined the four key points of developing your packing plan; “How long will I be staying?”, “How available are replacement items?”, “What will I need?”, “What else can I fit that I want?”. I will expound on them further in the following paragraphs.

We’ll take the first question to begin with, “How long will I be staying?”. This question is the most important one and for good reason, it will determine how much you will need to take with you. There is really only three main answers for this question; less than a week, about a week, and two weeks or more. If you are packing for less than a week more often than not you will only need about three day’s worth of clothes, which can be fit in a piece of luggage quite easily. If it is about a week, just bring a week’s worth of clothing, it will pay off in the long run.

If you are going to be in Japan for two weeks or more, which is what I would expect if you plan on doing study abroad in Japan, then pack at least two week’s worth of clothing. The types of clothing depend on the person of course, but bring enough where you won’t have to do laundry every 4 or 5 days. Also if you are staying for more than two weeks you should also make space for other things besides clothing, such as any electronics you plan on taking with you (I will detail this choice a little more in Part III of this series). A quick note, I am a 21 year old male so I make my recommendations on clothing and shoes from that point of view, I realize that those of the female persuasion may require a larger amount of both. ^_^

The next question, “How available are replacement items?” is an especially important one as it will be the deciding factor on the amount of anything that you plan to bring with you. For instance, if you wear shoes that are size 9 (mens) or larger you should bring several pairs of shoes with you simply because you will have a hard time finding any replacements if you wear yours out. The same goes for clothing, the average Japanese person is not that large so if you are a larger person (horizontally or vertically) you will naturally have a harder time finding replacement clothing, so plan accordingly. The same goes with English language books, dvds, etc. Japan does not have a very large English speaking population so finding entertainment in English may be difficult, take what you think will suffice for the length of time you will be overseas.

The third key question is, “What will I need?”. I know it seems like common sense but seriously it is easier to pack with the bare essentials and then whatever else you want, than the other way around. Having too much to begin with then narrowing it down will be harder on you than starting with what you need then expanding from there. Obviously clothing is a necessity, I would also recommend at least three pairs of shoes. Do not, however, bring an electric alarm clock over to Japan. There are two reasons why I say this; first, you can easily purchase an alarm clock once you get to Japan; and second, it will not keep time correctly because Japan runs on a different electrical frequency (which is what clocks use to keep time) although other two pronged electriacl items should be fine. Other than that, like I said, keep it simple the need stuff first.

After you have covered what you need, you should have space left for what you want, which leads us to the final key question, “What else can I fit that I want?” The key piece of information is how much space do you have left? It is easy to fill that space once you have it, but making the room first is the hard part. Obviously you can only pack what you want into your luggage if it will fit, keep that in mind, although it is okay to overstuff a little bit. ~_^

After you have finished packing it is time to make sure that everything still meets the size and weight limits set by the airlines, just measure you luggage with a yardstick and weigh it on a household scale. It may not be perfectly accurate but close is good enough as long as it is under the limits. If one of your bags is over the limit (most likely weight wise) just re-distribute the contained items until everything is under the limit. It is a lot easier to do this at home rather then at the airport creating a bottleneck for people wanting to get on.

So this time I went through, in detail, my strategy on planning to pack. Next time I will give you direct examples of what I plan on taking with me on my flight to Japan, until then!

The Art of Packing, Part I
The Art of Packing, Part II
The Art of Packing, Part III

I will begin a three part series on packing today and continue until Tuesday August 14, the day before I leave for Japan. The first thing you should do is go to the airline’s website and see what their restrictions on luggage are; how many carry-on or checked baggage you may have, the maximum dimensions and weight allowed, etc. For an example I am going to be flying by ways of American Airlines, here is their page for baggage information. For my flight the maximum requirements are as listed:

  • One (1) carry-on piece of luggage
    • No more than 45 in/114 cm (length + width + height)
    • Maximum weight of 40 lbs/18 kgs
  • Two (2) checked pieces of luggage
    • No more than 62 in/157 cm (length +width + height)
    • Maximum weight of 50 lbs/ 23 kgs

After you have the information on the limits allowed for your baggage find pieces of luggage that best fit those specifications, maybe a few in’s/cm’s smaller just to cover for a little bit of overfilling, if that were to happen. After you have your specifications it’s time to plan the packing. Yes, you read correctly, plan the packing. Let me explain what I mean by this.

When planning your packing, what you are doing is narrowing down what you will need to pack for your trip. I base my packing around a few key specifications:

  • How long will I be staying?
  • How available are replacement items?
  • What will I need?
  • What else can I fit that I want?

Once I know the best items to fit those questions then I start packing. Hold that thought because the next part in our three part series will continue where we are leaving off, until then!

The Art of Packing, Part I
The Art of Packing, Part II
The Art of Packing, Part III