It can be daunting to think about packing for a month-long program, so here are some suggestions to get you started. You should plan to bring no more than what you actually need, as you will be expected to carry your own bags when we travel from Tokyo to Kyoto (which includes train/subway transportation).
You should plan to bring the following items:
- Your passport. If you do not have a valid passport, start the passport application process as soon as possible to ensure you have it in time for our departure.
- At least two pairs of very comfortable shoes appropriate for walking.
- Clothing that will enable you to keep cool in the hot weather but also is appropriate for visiting public places (e.g., a tank top may be acceptable for class, but be sure to have a light top with sleeves that you can put over it). You should also bring two dressier outfits appropriate for more formal occasions and of course socks, undergarments and sleepwear. If you plan to take advantage of the pool at the NYC, you also should bring swimwear.
- Your course readings and guidebooks (distributed at our pre-departure orientation sessions), as well as a notebook for in-class and field trip use.
- Some small souvenirs/gifts for new friends and other people you meet who may have done you a favor (e.g., your host family, your conversation partner). The Japanese frequently give gifts, and your efforts to perform this culturally important gesture will be appreciated. Ideally, these items should somehow be related to where you're from (Wittenberg or your hometown), as local items are considered to be particularly thoughtful gifts. You will learn how to present (and accept) gifts appropriately.
- An umbrella and lightweight water-resistant jacket, as the rainy season will begin during our time in Japan.
- Sunscreen, especially if you are sensitive to sun exposure, as we will be spending time outdoors during many of our field trips.
- Sufficient quantities of your prescription drugs in the original container with clear documentation of that prescription to last you for the duration of your stay in Japan. You also may wish to bring over-the-counter medications: aspirin, decongestants, motion-sickness pills, Pepto-Bismol, etc.
- Sufficient quantities of your favorite toiletries and beauty products for the duration of your stay, as you may not be able to find them in Japan (or they may be more expensive than what you are used to paying). Disposable razors (i.e., non-electric) are recommended. You also should bring a washcloth and personal towel.
- Backup corrective lenses, if you wear them (i.e., two pairs of your prescription glasses).
- An outlet adaptor for any of your electric items that have polarized prongs (i.e., one is wider than the other) or have the third round "grounding" prong (see Information about electricity in Japan for details). Non-polarized two-prong U.S. plugs will fit just fine into Japanese outlets without a plug adaptor or voltage converter.
- Photocopies of your passport and credit cards (stored in a separate place from those items), in case you misplace the originals.
- Your camera, along with backup batteries and memory cards.
- Cash, Travelers Checks, and credit cards. When you exchange your currency for yen, you may get a better rate for Travelers Checks than cash. For most of your everyday purchases, plan to use cash, as many places do not accept credit cards. Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, and most people walk around with a lot of cash. However, you also will want credit cards for larger purchases (see Information about currency for details).
- Other travel necessities, such as a smaller travel bag for field trips and daytrips, anti-bacterial hand wipes, iPod, pocket calculator, travel alarm clock, zip-top bags, activities to pass the time on long trips, a travel pillow, extra batteries, address list for sending postcards, sewing kit, earplugs, etc. When we leave Tokyo to go to Kyoto, we'll be sending our bags to Narita Airport to be held there for us, so be sure to bring a smaller bag/suitcase that will accommodate your four-night stay in Kyoto.
You also may want to pack the following items:
- An empty bag that can be filled and checked when you leave Japan, as you will accumulate many things during your month-long stay. Keep in mind there may be checked baggage fees. Additionally, overweight or oversized luggage will be subject to additional fees.
- Packing materials (e.g., some bubble wrap), to ensure any fragile items you purchase make it home safely.
- A good phrasebook/travel dictionary, especially if you have limited knowledge of the language.
- A few photos of your friends and family, to show your conversation partner and/or host family.
- Some form of indoor-only slippers for use in the bathroom and other places where outdoor shoes must be removed.
- Laundry detergent sufficient for your stay in Japan, if you have a strong preference for brand or type. You can, of course, purchase it there but it might have to be a large bottle or box. (Alternatively, you can plan to purchase a large container with several of your classmates and share it.)
- Small quantities of snacks from home that you can't live without (and that travel well); keep in mind that some American brands are available in Japan, but there's no guarantee they'll have the particular kinds of candy or crackers that you love.
- A concealed travel wallet (usually worn under your shirt). Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with extremely low crime rates, but you will want to be a little more careful in areas with a lot of tourists.
Please leave the following items at home:
- Anything that is very valuable (e.g., expensive jewelry) and/or irreplaceable. As noted above, you generally are not at risk of being the target of crime; the main issue with these kinds of items is the possibility that you may misplace or break them while traveling.
- Anything that is illegal to possess or carry on a plane.
- Anything that is not absolutely essential to your month-long stay in Japan. While you typically will not have to walk long distances with your luggage, you will need to be able to handle it quickly and by yourself when using various forms of transportation.