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What to Bring?

Japan With Kids - Forums: Moving to and Leaving Japan: Moving To Japan: What to Bring?

By Debbie Kaufman on Wednesday, October 6, 1999 - 12:00 am:

We're a British/American family with a 4 year old daughter who are moving from the US to Tokyo next month. I would love any suggestions on items ( toys, food, drugs, etc.) that we should ship to Japan that are either hard to find or outrageously expensive.

By shancock on Sunday, December 12, 1999 - 4:57 am:

"hard to find or outrageously expensive" covers a lot here in Tokyo! :) Toys-only bring favorites, there's lots of toys here; food- some people with generous shipping budgets do bring cases of cereal and other large items. Parmesean cheese is our favorite stowaway- it's about $8 here. Drugs is important. Many of the otc things you may use may not be availalbe. Careful of some antihistamines in large quantities. They may by illegal. Write if you would like more details.

Some big questions there. I wonder what the capacity of one message is....

By Pamela paterson on Saturday, December 18, 1999 - 2:08 pm:

You may also want to bring a supply of your favorite Makeup/hair products/personal items (like Feminine products) as well. We had a generous shipping allowance, so I went to a bulk store and just bought everything in large amounts that I thought I would use. They were cheaper in the States, plus now I don't have to run out and try to figure out where to buy them here. I think I have at least 3 years worth of Bounce Dryer sheets...Yeesh...

By Anna on Saturday, December 18, 1999 - 2:29 pm:

If you are not being moved by an ex-pat contract, watch out about bringing too much stuff. If you get a typical apartment the size that Japanese are accustomed to, you will not be able to store a 3 year supply of anything. I do recommend that you bring shoes and lots of them, if you wear a shoe size bigger than about a woman's US size 8. You'll probably do more walking here (especially if you don't have a car) and large sizes are very hard to replace. And the import tax if you decide to mail order them is very high. If you do mail order them, it is better to have them go to a friend in the US, scuff the soles a bit and rebox them before mailing them to Japan. Write very clearly "Used" shoes being forwarded.

By AnLee Cox on Saturday, May 27, 2000 - 2:35 pm:

Does anyone have a list of things to purchase before moving to Japan? I have 3 young children and wondered what things we will need. I'd appreciate any suggestions and advice!

By shancock on Wednesday, May 31, 2000 - 12:09 am:

to AnLee -
OTC drugs & cosmetics/tolietries.

6-month (or until next home visit) supply of prescription meds

Parmesean cheese cans for corners of suitcase :)

And if you're really fussy and have a big shipping allowance- Cheerios and Rice Crispies are not sold here.

By jalopi on Monday, December 17, 2001 - 2:51 am:

Contact Lens solution is really expensive in Japan about 15 bucks a bottle. Better stock up on it before you go.

By Cornelia on Friday, February 1, 2002 - 5:39 am:

Baking soda seems to only be sold in these tiny little boxes with 2 x 30 gram packettes or similar small quantities for about a dollar. (It's called Juso-u I think). If you like to use it for cleaning and with your laundry and do lots of muffins and pancakes, and have space in your luggage ...

By melissa mcnulty on Thursday, March 7, 2002 - 9:07 pm:

I would add baby wipes to the list. I have only found one place in Tokyo that sells pampers wipes (very expensive). The japanese ones just don't do the job quite as well. Also nappy/diaper rash cream such as Desitin. You can get these through FBC, but likewise expensive.
I also stock up on kids shoes when I go home.
Infants Tylenol and Motrin are another suitcase stuffer for those long Saturday nights when my daughter seems to get her ear infections...
A safety gate if you have a toddler, and a sling if you are into baby-wearing. I haven't been able to find a replacement for mine (although there are lots of great carriers for babies here).

And finally, if you like to use plastic bottles or angled bottles I would bring those, along with a supply of nipples/teats. I have only seen glass bottles here.

Cornelia: I managed to find a huge box of baking soda at National Azabu.

By Owen Self on Sunday, June 30, 2002 - 6:45 pm:

Hi, any Aussies able to tell me if an Australian Baby Seat (with the more recent clip fitting), and a bike carrier (that fits onto a standard Australian car tow-bar) will be OK with a local vehicle?

What are the local road-laws re Baby Seats? Are they needed in taxis?

Any advice appreciated.



By Cathy Edwards on Sunday, June 30, 2002 - 8:13 pm:

We have the same clip fitting car seat and the car we bought (Mazda) did not obviously have an anchor point for the fitting and nobody I know had a car with them. The best anybody did was to wrap the anchor strap around the rear head rests.
However, after spending an afternoon crawling around the boot of the car we discovered the "holes" that the anchor bolts would thread in to.
It took a lot of frustrating work and we had to drill holes up through the parcel shelf but we now have 3 anchor points permanently in the back seat so we can choose which position we want to use.
I would say that most cars have the point for the anchor but you just need to find it.
Car seats are not needed in taxis in Tokyo and half the time the seat belts do not even work.
Hope it helps.

By Admin on Monday, July 1, 2002 - 12:28 am:

Related conversation as per questions by Owen Self above:
Tokyo With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Child Safety - Car Seats, etc.

By Natasha on Monday, September 16, 2002 - 7:13 pm:

Over the counter pharmaceuticals are very expensive. If you have good cold medicine, children's aspirin and/or acetaminophen products that you can bring with you, DO. Vitamin supplements are also very steep. Pregnancy test kit is not so bad.

Local price example: 20 tablets of acetaminophen for Y520

By Robert on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 7:48 pm:

I'll second the above. Aspirin, cold medicine, suntan lotion, make-up, deodorant, and vitimins are wildly expensive in Japan. And if you wear larger clothes/shoes, you'd better bring or mail lots too. Before coming to Japan, two very good sites to look at are Price Check Tokyo and The Japan FAQ: Know Before You Go. Lots of useful info.
Books can be high as well, see if you can order from or have friends or family mail you books from home.

By Jillann Grooms on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 5:05 am:

We are moving to Tokyo in a few weeks from the US. Is is worth bringing our own appliances like a vacuum, blender, and most importantly, TV and DVD player (3 kids!) I know that tvs are on the same wavelength but with that minor differences in power, will they work?

By Leese Johnson on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 9:44 am:

We came with a TV, bread machine, mixer, vacuum cleaner, all the standard household appliances (except the microwave). They all work, just a bit slower. So the "high" on the mixer is more like the old medium. Clocks will run but won't keep time accurately. They'll run slow. The TV and DVD players all worked fine, even the computers.
We were told the TV wouldn't work but it did just fine. We just plugged it into the cable (before it was turned on) and we got the basic 1-12 channels.

By Paul Arenson on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 10:07 am:


The wattage is important. Since the
voltage varies quite a bit (100 to 117)
between the countries, it is less important
with low wattage things,. But you may
lower the product life or overheat by
underpowering or vice-versa in the case of
using J-products in the U.S.

No, TVs will not work right. The system is
the same (albeit with more liens and a
sharper picture here) but the channels are
not the same---same with FM radios,
which means that some would not even bo
on the US dial (I think they start lower
here). But some would work.
Lesse, you say it got the basic 12
channels, but do they correspond to
Tokyo????It seems off that they would....

In Tokyo you need 1 for NHK, 3 for NHK, 4
for NTV, 6 for TBS, 8 for FUJII (if you can
stand that right wing station), and 12 for

There are a few UHF stations in Yokohama
or Saitama.

If you use a cable box, I suppose the cable
over takes the channel selection, but do
not know. Same iwth satellite. Satellite
dishes require the right frequency and
placement, pluys need be pointed at the
correct satellite.

One very important one is bilingual. US
and Japan bilingual (or simulcast) are not
likely the same. So you would miss out on
bilingual or possibly get both languages.

Be very careful about DVD. A US DVD
player will play US DVDs. But it will not
generallyu play a japanese DVD.

You can buy players that don't have the
areas encoded into the hardware, or--
even better--programmable for the future
when the big multionationals try to limit
your choises by adding new codes (in the
next 1-2 years probably).

These players are about a100 dollars at
Costco (even in Japan).

Be careful with computers. Most will play
ANY region. But after about 4 DVDs they
will lock into the region that you have
been playing for the last 4 times....and
your old DVDs will not work anymore.

You can defeat this with certain softyware
downlaodable for your computer in most
cases, either free or reasonable cost.

I would not use a blender from one coutry
or vaccuum.

These are all cjeap enough here, from the
basic models to the super duper one, like
the new British one that creates a minor
tornado I hear.

Hope this helps.

Note Japan, despite all these expat rumors
of 100 melons, is not all that expensive
anymore, though you can, if you want,
actually buy a 100 dollar melon, which
tastes not that differemt from a 3 dollar
one, and may contain the same amount of
pesticide anyway.

TV and DVD player (3 kids!) I know

By Kit on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 1:01 pm:

For what it's worth, I brought a
Cuisinart, an electric grill, and
coffee maker from the states
recently, and they all work fine
here. The clock on the coffee
maker ran slow (a couple
times, we brewed coffee when
we weren't even home--gulp!)
but otherwise the Cuisinart
shreds anything in seconds
and the grill cooks to the
specified times. I know prices
have gotten more reasonable,
but blenders and such things
are still three to four times
more expensive here, and
sometimes you really want a
book of instructions in English.
Having said that, Japanese
appliances are pretty
reliable, and if you need
something serviced, you'd be
better off having bought it here,
I think.

Just a note: I think the vacuum
cleaners in Japan are brilliant-
-they are quieter and far more
powerful than anything I could
find stateside. That turbo
machine Paul mentions above
is absolutely awesome, but
the Japanese make a slightly
smaller and less expensive
version which is less likely to
whisk up your kids in a
cleaning frenzy.

By Shibuya on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 2:23 pm:

Can you give Brand names for the
vaccuum cleaners mentioned? I'm
needing to buy a new one, and
need something super strong for
picking up pet hair! Thanks.

By Bethan Hutton on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 8:28 pm:

I think the British one people are talking about is the Dyson brand, and you can get them at Costco.

By Nancy on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 9:58 pm:

We've got pets and the Dyson is great. There are several different models sold in Japan, which may vary from the models sold elsewhere. Costco does not carry the full range, but often they will have an older model, or one that is not selling well in Japan, and so they offer it at a good price. Recently they were selling the DC08 Telescopic Cyclone Model at a discount if you used a coupon, but that promotion is finished. If you have pets, I would make sure you get a model with high wattage, and a turbo brush, if you have carpets. Most of the models are equipped with a lifetime HEPA filter, and a washable filter. There are no bags involved.

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