9 things to bring when traveling Japan

Are you visiting Japan for just a short time? Here’s a quick list of things that I think are important to bring to make your stay less worrisome and more enjoyable. If you have any suggestions that I didn’t mention, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

  1. Debit Card and $100 – Many people say bring cash because many places don’t accept credit cards. This is only kind of true. I say bring $100 and your debit card instead. At the airport you can minimizeΒ  exchange rate fees by changing only $100 into Yen. This way you’ll have cash on hand and can buy some things from the vending machines and pay for transportation when you arrive. Major stores will take a debit card if it has the Visa or Mastercard logo on it. To get money, you can withdrawal using your Visa or Mastercard from almost any Japan Post Office (no ATM fee) or 7-11 (~250 Yen ATM fee). Very fair exchange rates are set each day by Visa or MasterCard, and depending where you bank you’ll be charged 1% from Visa or Mastercard, and 1% or more from your bank. And you’ll have a withdrawal limit of $500 USD per day most likely. And many major stores will accept credit cards as payment.
  2. Deodorant – It gets hot and humid during the summer, and sometimes public transportation cranks up the heat in the winter. To stay dry, you should bring some antiperspirant/deodorant. I haven’t seen it for sale that frequently in Japan. When I did buy it in Japan I had to go to a few pharmacies until I found a Ban Rollon for about 500 Yen. It’s small and lasts maybe 3-4 weeks. Costco sells Speed Stick deodorant (non antiperspirant) but I don’t think it works very well. I really recommend taking at least 1 bottle of Certain Dri Roll-On Anti-Perspirant which almost stops you from sweating.
  3. Hand Sanitizer – I haven’t seen this for sale in Japan. You’ll be touching a lot of things including doorways, bus or subway handles, money, and then it’ll be time to eat! Sometimes it’s hard to find places to wash your hands. Many bathrooms are missing two things… soap and paper towels. When you go to a restaurant they’ll usually give you a wet towel, but I think bringing a small bottle of hand sanitizer will help you stay healthy and give you a piece of mind.
  4. Handkerchief – There’s usually no towel or air dryer in the public bathrooms, and you might need it to wipe sweat from your face in the summer. Something cheap is fine. When you’re in Japan you can hit the shops and find a nice one for 500 yen or a Burberry or Calvin Klein for 1000 yen or less.
  5. Digital Camera – Sure, Japan is known for electronics and gadgets, but they’re not cheap. I find that many things in Japan cost the same or more than in the US. And all Sony products have only Japanese language menus. When you’re capturing memories, it’s better safe than sorry.
  6. 3 Prong Travel Outlet Adapter – Almost all outlets are 2 prong only. So if you have any 3 prong electronics like your laptop, bring an adapter. You could buy one here, but you’re exploring Japan so why waste time looking for one?
  7. Over the counter allergy meds – Seasonal allergies? Allergic to dust, or anything else? You should bring some Clariton or Zyrtec. It’s not sold OTC here, and the OTC meds are expensive and cause drowsiness.
  8. Aspirin – You should bring a small bottle of aspirin or Tylenol. It costs maybe $1-2 in the US for a travel size. If you need to buy it in Japan it’ll cost you around 700 Yen for 20 aspirin pills. If you need to buy some here, look for “Bufferin” or ask for it by the brand name.
  9. Earplugs and Sleep Mask – I recommend this because walls are thin in most buildings, so it might be hard to sleep at times.

89 thoughts on “9 things to bring when traveling Japan

  1. You can get hand sanitising wet tissues in Japan; indeed coversely my wife always takes them with her when we go abroad as we can’t find them (or just haven’t bothered looking) there.

    The brand we usually get is Kirei-Kirei. I’m sure I’ve seen alcohol sprays too, but I can’t remember which brand.

      1. I should also add for anyone reading who wants to know, the pink ones are non-alcohol, green with alcohol, so the green ones are more effective. Most drug stores stock them, so it’s not too hard to find, and it’s usually alongside toilet seat wiping sheets…

  2. Oh, and I should also add that in stores if your credit card doesn’t have a IC chip (are they standard in the US?) you might find it more awkward than if you have the chip, and know your PIN, of course.

    1. I don’t think IC chips are popular in the U.S. and I’ve never seen one on a credit card myself.

      On a side note I noticed that when I buy things at a store using a credit card I’m charged at the end of the month instead of on the spot.

  3. Note on cameras: I think the only advantage to buying when you get here will be that Japan gets the newer models first… it’s only cheaper if the exchange rate is good (ie: not now). Also I’ve noticed that most Canons are bilingual – screw Sony (with my apologies to my friend that works there!!). 8)

    And good call on the hankie, especially in the warmer months to wipe your brow.

    Also maybe you should add a phrasebook or pre-written translations of useful phrases? You can probably get around in Tokyo and bigger cities, but knowing even just a little once you get out of the main areas would be helpful I’d think… it’s something I always do when traveling.

    1. Good call on the phrasebook! You get one for $9 from The Lonley Planet and read it on the plane. As for the cameras, I have a Sony camera that I bought in Japan and I found the English manual online, but I also have a few friends with Canon products. I like both.

  4. Pretty impressive list. I will reference it next time I have visitors.

    Something that is not needed but is slightly helpful is the address of the person/place you will be staying at. If not the people at customs can be pretty annoying when it comes to filling out the forms.

  5. Don’t forget train maps as you can get it online. Then use Hyperdia to see the schedule, fares, and time from one point to another with multiple alternatives. Not sure if I should say this but you won’t experience Japan if you haven’t experienced the cramped train.. haha

    On the bilingual thingy, it’s just about marketing strategy. I never find it as an issue. What to say, they love their language, people and country and care less what foreigners think.

    1. Thanks for the link. It’s difficult to find timetables in English, that’s one reason I usually take the subway or train and avoid the bus. And even though the bus is usually cheaper, it’s not as fast as the subway and can get caught in traffic. When trains are jam packed, it reminds me of a popular music concert… with no sound.

    1. I’ve seen Pepto Bismol in pill form, so that should be easy to carry. Have you ever taken a similar medicine here? You have to take 4-10 small pills at a time and sometimes they stink. Not fun.

  6. Great list!

    Also, looking for and booking Traveler Commute Tickets can be a real bargain. Tourists in Osaka can pay a set sum of money for a few days of free train travelling and like 10 sightseeing places at a very good rate. You’ll end up saving more than $200 since traveling in Japan tends to be on the expensive side.

  7. I loved the list and it fits very nicely with just daily living whether your visiting Japan or staying for a little while, but I’ll warn against the medicine. Japan has some very strict medicine laws and I’m not exactly sure what they would do if they found something illegal in your luggage at customs, but it might not be pretty. I know one that is illegal there, but not in the US is Sudafed.

  8. Hand sanitizer…. YES!
    (especially if you are a germaphobe like me)

    About electronics, it often comes down to the exchange rate.
    On my first trip to Japan many years ago, US dollar had 30% more value against yen than it does now.
    A large format professional Sony DV Cam was a bargain at that time, and it had English menus.
    Nearly paid for my trip over there for 10 days to buy that camcorder in Japan instead of US.

    Most cameras do have English menus now, though the default is likely to be Japanese of course when you first boot it up.
    Maybe I am behind the times and there is some strange grey market blocking attempt with consumer cameras by Sony where they have eliminated international menus, but I would be very surprised by that.

    When the currencies swing around again (as they always do), electronics may turn into a bargain fest once more in Japan.
    But of course, everything becomes a bargain in those times.

    Enjoyed the list!

  9. We returned couple of days ago after 17 day vacation in Japan, travelled as far west as Hiroshima/Miyajima and as far north as Sapporo. It was our second visit to Japan so we were little wiser. Our suggestions are:

    1. Carry body moisturizer/hand foot moisturizing cream. Most hotels provide shampoo, conditioner and body soap but no moisturizer. Dry skin was the major problem we encountered due to heat being turned up indoors, lot of walking, and use of onsens. Also request humidifier from hotel. Most provide them.

    2. Buy a Japan Rail Pass (before reaching Japan) if you will be traveling between cities using trains. This was the best investment we made during our vacation, travelled primarily using shinkansen and JR.

    3. In addition to Lonely Planet Phrasebook, buy a pocket Japanese-English-Japanese dictionary (with Japanese words written in both romanized and kana). Phrasebooks are good for asking questions in Japanese but to decipher responses, you will need dictionary. Don’t assume natives will give answers same way/in short phrases as written in phrasebook.

    4. Travel light. If you are going to come back to a major city like Tokyo (hub) after few days of sight seeing in other area, carry what you will need and store rest of the luggage at the hub. Most hotels will store your luggage for free or store at stations. During our vacation, it was interesting to see several tourists lugging around all their luggage. One even took couple of big suitcases to Miyajima on ferry. We left most luggage with Tokyo hotel and rest with Hiroshima hotel for overnight visit to Miyajima.

    5. If you are not used to walking several hours a day, buy therapeutic socks for walkers at drug stores in Japan. Without these socks, we would have lasted max 2 -3 days of walking only.

    6. Most banks and CC will charge $5 or so foreign transaction fee for debit/credit card use in Japan. Exchanging cash USD for Yen doesn’t give good rate. You get better exchange rate with travelers cheques (almost same as CC). Don’t exchange money at bank or airport, post office gives you the best exchange rate. Travelers cheque can be obtained at no/little fee from banks and AAA in US.

    7. Too much use of hand sanitizer/wet or hot towels will cause dry skin. Japan is lot cleaner at least compared to US. We encountered soap and hand dryers in most restrooms. Carry a handkerchief or collect free tissue packets given as promotions at most busy street corners/busy areas.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! The JR pass is definitely a sweet idea. Free tissues seem to be everywhere, and they’re great because you never know when you’ll need them.

    1. Good idea! I got rid of a lot of clothes when I came here thinking I’d just buy things here. Shirt sleeves are a little shorter (or my arms are a little longer?) than what I’m used to in America so it’s hard to find comfortable clothes.

  10. You forgot peanut butter πŸ˜›

    Definitely deodorant and painkillers!!

    J meds are weak and OTC is way expensive. If I need meds I usually just go to the Dr. It’s cheaper that way if you have insurance (which everyone should have)

  11. To be honest there isn’t anything on your list that you can’t get in Japan. You either just don’t know what the package says/looks like, or you’re in the wrong place. Japanese people aren’t so primitive that they don’t have deodorant or cold medicine, so next time you’re in 7-11 look at the packages once over.

    1. If a store has a Visa or Mastercard logo, it means that it’s the Japanese version of the card. You can’t charge directly from a foreign bank account in a foreign currency for a regular purchase in a Japanese store in debit or credit. I’ve never seen Mastercard in Japan, but if a store (most conbini have them) has the logo, it says under it only for Japanese issued cards. Airports also aren’t the best place to exchange money because they’re ripping you off either way.

    2. Deodorant is for sale in any conbini or pharmacy. There are plenty of varieties for men and women, though most of them are spray. If you can’t read what it says on the bottle, you’ll probably think it’s hairspray.

    3. You can also buy hand sanitizer in any conbini or pharmacy. Keep in mind that Japanese people don’t use these too much because there isn’t such a huge reason too. If Japanese people can manage to life longer than anyone else in the world using moist towels, you can too.

    4. This is fine, but you can also use all the free napkins they give out in the street. If you live in a city (which you do), look for anyone handing out napkins with advertisements for loans/sex clubs, and keep these with you. You can also carry a man purse in Japan and it will be considered normal.

    5. Unless you’re buying secondhand, the only thing in most stores are going to be the absolute newest and consequently most expensive. If you are looking for a model that’s over a year old you can probably get it for significantly cheap. For this you really need to be in the right place, so I can understand this.

    6. You can always remove 3rd prong because it’s only used to ground whatever you’re plugging in.

    7. Any time you want to get these sorts of medication you need to visit a hospital and buy it there. It’s going to be overpriced at any pharmacy. Make sure that whatever you’re bringing with you is alright with customs. I know that certain ADD medications are illegal in Japan, and though it’s unlikely they will care at customs there is a chance.

    8. Look above.

    9. You can also buy these in any convenience store.

    1. Assuming electricity works basically the same in Japan as in the US, I would have to disagree with your solution to #6 as potentially damaging/dangerous.

    2. My daughter will be going to Japan on a school trip and we just got her a debit card, which happens to be a mastercard debit card. Is this really unusable in Japan? Can it be used at ATM’s?

      Also wondering how expensive things are. Everything is paid for except lunches and such. How much is the average lunch?

      Thanks for the help.

      1. You can use a MC debit card at big shopping places and some grocery stores. Best ATM to get money from is the Japan Post Office. A lunch can cost 400+ yen. I usually average 500-1000 if I eat out for lunch.

  12. “4. Handkercheif …”

    Ummmm. No, tissues. The locals use cloth in the bathroom to dry their hands, tissues for the face etc; so handkerchiefs are regarded as dirty. Tissues are clean.

    This impacts also on manners – don’t blow your nose in public (or if you do, turn away and hide your face). Preferably, sniff. Expulsion of bodily fluids is ill-mannered and somewhat disgusting. Sniff it up.

    “6. 3 Prong Outlet Adapter”

    No real problem except for a tiny wrinkle. The US operates on 110V 60hz while Japan is on 100V 50 Hz. For most things this doesn’t matter and if you’re only staying a short time it doesn’t matter at all. But over time the difference between 60 Hz and 50 Hz might show up, particularly in things like laptop power supplies. If you’re staying for more than a few weeks make sure your power supply is certified for 100V 50 Hz or get a local replacement.

    (Technical explanation: 50 Hz AC has a slower cycle than the 60 Hz used in the US. This means that the components in US power supplies have to maintain current for a longer time than they are perhaps built for and after a while they may degrade as they are operating at the margin of their specification. This is far less of a problem than it used to be as many power supplies are now truly international and will handle Japan’s power just fine.)

    1. I know this is a late reply, but East Japan (Tokyo/Yokohama/Shizuoka and points east) runs on 50Hz. West Japan (Osaka/Kobe/Kyoto and points west) are on 60Hz like the USA. All Japanese equipment is required to accept both 50/60Hz to be sold across the country. Stuff you bring from America may not run as expected on 50Hz though, so you do need to check if your power supply can handle 50Hz if you’re in the eastern parts. Nagoya I believe is on the 60Hz… but not sure.

  13. READ the SPECS on the power supply or the unit’s documentation.
    Most, if not all, power supplies (ac-dc) for Laptops, notebooks, mobile phones, cameras, etc have rated Inputs of 100volt to 240 volts AC ( 100/200, 110/220, 120/240 volts,) with 50 to 60 Hz cycle.

    You will notice significant loss of performance when using electrical items with motors or heating elements, hair dryers, water heaters, …etc. Even units that are rated “Dual Voltage” will have a lower performance when the supplied voltage is 100/200 volts.

    As far as the ground on the 3 (three) prong plugs, I’ve been breaking those off since my first 8086 laptop

  14. My teenage son is going to Japan this summer with 4-H. I am glad for the tips!
    Could he “accidentally” rack up a big bill for his host family using his lap top on the internet?
    And what, really, is a sought after gift to bring from America? We all ready have Detroit Tigers shirts ready.

  15. great tips.. since I am travelling to Tokyo next week for the first time.. however would appreciate if you mayshed some light on food, beer prices as well.

    Also, per your experience, what could be bet way out to manage them as I heard that they are very expensive in Tokyo

    1. I don’t live in Tokyo so prices are different. Food and drink prices vary depending on where you’re eating. You can get a nice meal for $10, or get an “all you can drink” with a course meal (with a few friends) for $30+.

  16. I’m planning to go to Japan (Okinawa area) in September for six months and need some advice on things.

    1. Should I bring my ipod touch, or leave it? Its new and I would like bring it with me on the plane, but not sure if I should take it or buy a replacement when I get there.

    2. What about buying a cell phone there? Can I get an unlocked one and take it back home? Is it easier to take things back to the US when they were bought in Japan?

    3. Is there a limit to the number of bags you can take into the country?

    4. On the limits of duty-free items, are they very strict about that? What if you are barely over the limit?

    5. They have public wi-fi, right?

    6. When you talk about sizes, can’t you have things custom made, or is it really expensive?

    I like the list and all the add-ons, it will help alot when I leave!

    1. 1. iPod Touch – I’d bring it if it were mine.
      2. Cell phone – You can’t buy a sim and pop it into your phone. I think you can buy a prepaid cell phone from Softbank, not sure.
      3. Bags – That’s up to your airline rules
      4. Duty Free – You can check with your airline about this too
      5. Public Wifi – It’s difficult to find free wifi from my experience
      6. Custom made – This would be expensive

  17. So, sorry to the guys, but this is super important info for any females traveling to Japan: I would just like to add, non-Asian girls should definitely bring enough pads so you don’t have to buy them there. While they DO sell pads in Japan, they are SIGNIFICANTLY smaller than pads you find in the US or Europe (“extra-long overnight” Japanese pads are about the size of “normal” western pads) so unless you have an extra light flow or don’t mind changing every hour, it’s better to bring your own.

    1. Thank you SO much for posting that. I am going to Oita for 4months and the people I ‘ve been asking for info are all guys. So thank you! anything else you recommend?

  18. Laxatives. Absolutely, laxatives.

    I was in Japan last October with my wife, family, and friends, and several of us had problems with regularity. The Japanese diet is not all that high in fiber. Being genetically Japanese is no advantage, and the laxative we bought in Japan was expensive and did not work.

    1. Carry bran flakes in zip lock baggies. A couple of teaspoons in a glass of water is all you need daily .

  19. Well I didn’t have time to read through everything you or others posted, but when I visited Japn at the end of 2009, I brought my netbook, but didn’t have any Global-capable Mobile Broadband Cards… I was going to find it locally, but they weren’t available for short-term use… Then THEY DON’T HAVE FREE Wifi Spot like US, they have places called like “Hot Spot” or something, you have to pay the fee for the duration of the time you are connected… So only time I was able to check my email or do something online was when I stayed @my bri=other’s home… Unfortunately I also stayed @My parents home quite long time, they didn’t have any online connection at all… So I highly recommend to have your “Global-capable Mobile Broadband Card” already arranged…

  20. Hi! I noticed when I was in Tokyo earlier this month (Shibuya), there were girls handing out tissues free of charge. How cool is that!

  21. I just wanted to say: It’s peace of mind, not a piece of mind! Personal pet peeve πŸ˜€

    Still a very useful article! Why don’t they sell deodorant? Don’t Japanese people stink too? Weird!!

    1. I’ve seen deodorant, just not antiperspirant. So you end up sweating a lot and even with deodorant you’re going to smell in a few hours and have lovely wet spots under your arms.

  22. a couple of comments –
    – I prefer cash – you can control the exchange rate that you buy yen at and don’t have to pay any bank fees (which can add up a bit on international exchanges)
    – hand sanitiser is definitely a must – I ahve seen it in some pharmacy and convenience stores but it can be hard to pick on the shelf if you don’t speak/read Japanese

    The Japanese are very friendly and the first time I went I ended up talking with all sorts of people – on the train, in the park on the ferry….the next time I went back I took little kangaroos and koalas to give to the people I met and I made some little business cards with my email address so I can keep in touch πŸ™‚

  23. Went to Japan for the second time 2 years ago and they took my credit card most places. You can buy your rail pass on line. I ordered my yen from my bank which is Chase bank it didn’t take long at all.

  24. For a country where folks wear face masks, interesting that hand sanitizer is not a huge seller.

    Folks who are worried about money, don’t be. the 7-11s are EVERYWHERE, at least they were in Tokyo.

    1. Maybe it’s just here then (Toyama), but hand sanitiser is a huge seller! Besides the fact that you can buy it anywhere, it’s available for all customers at shopping centres, supermarkets etc, right near the entrance.

      Japanese deodorant is a waste of time, and having traveled on busy trains at different times of year, it seems to me that most people don’t care. I’ve been here 3 years and i would recommend bringing a good anti-perspirant with you, as well as getting it shipped out from time to time from the folks back home.

      Regarding a lack of fibre in foods here, if you’re going to stay for a while, i’d recommend buying oatmeal from one of the online sellers, like foreign buyers’ club (check google). They also have a bunch of different foods, in case you have cravings for a taste of home!

  25. Hi
    We have been reading your blog – every post with great interest! Cathy will be in Japan in September for a couple of months with her kids. They will be doing their school work through the internet. However some of the apartments that they will be renting do not have internet, and to go to a cafe or Mcdonalds – isn’t the best for doing school work. Is it possible to purchase in japan a”net stick” from one of the local providers? (USB internet stick)
    Have any suggestions?

    I look forward to more posts! (and any advice on internet connections)


    1. Try finding a internet cafe. I go to Sendai, Japan every summer, and there are internet cafes…not all of them are expensive, despite what you may hear. Just make sure not to get the “boxed” rooms…see if they have the open-area computers; those are significantly cheaper.

      1. Great idea! I was without internet for 6 weeks in 2009. I ended up working from an internet cafe using my laptop. They often have deals if it’s early in the morning and sell time by the hour or packages (like a 5 or 10 hour package).

  26. You can get deodorant, but it’s not as strong as in the US.

    You need an alien registration card to get a cellphone. I’ve heard of people not needing this, but legally the phone company must require it. It’s a post 9-11 thing. However, you can rent phones from companies that rent them. It’s expensive, though. Your cellphone company might have phones that will work in Japan and a plan that allows international roaming. Verizon has this.

    In eastern Japan, electricity is 50 cycles, in western Japan it’s 60. It’s also 100 watts, vs 110 in the US. I found that my curling iron didn’t heat up as hot as I’m used to. But things like laptops are fine.

    Be careful about over-the-counter cold and allergy meds — some are illegal here, for the same reason that you now have to ask the pharmacist for them in many states.

    If you will do a lot of traveling on trains in a short period of time (a few weeks) a rail-pass will save you lots of money. You must buy the voucher for it outside of Japan, then convert it into a pass which you can do at Narita.

    The earplugs and face mask will be great for the flights over and back as well.

    If you can read some Japanese, http://kakaku.com/ is great for finding low prices on all kinds of things. If you know the model of camera or computer you want, you can find the hole-in-the-wall store in Akihabara that sells it for much less than the big electronics stores.

  27. There’s a lot of discussion here, (from the many great ideas posted above πŸ™‚ ) and I guess this was posted a year ago, but I want to clarify some things that I’ve already researched and written about over on my blog.

    Debit cards – actually many post office ATMs will not accept them, even if Visa or Mastercard. I wouldn’t risk it, bring cash or traveler’s checks instead. Some places do accept credit cards, but they don’t always work (I’ve tried, many times). It might work more often in places like Tokyo, but in the non-metropolis areas, not so much.

    Deodorant – actually quite easy to find in Japan, but if you are just traveling, it’s probably easier to bring your own anyway (not sure why you wouldn’t?) –> http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2010/07/how-to-find-good-deodorant-in-japan.html

    Hand sanitizer – sold in every drug store now, though it was difficult to find two years ago. The whole flu thing suddenly made everyone want to buy it.

    Ladies pads – they are not smaller than western sizes, so it’s interesting when people say that. The overnight ones you can get are actually huge, bigger than what I found in the U.S. Look for the dark blue or black packaging with moon/stars on it and usually it will have numbers like 300, 350, 400, etc. Larger the number, larger the pad. But really, bringing pads is unnecessary. Same with tampons.

    Allergy meds- if traveling yes bring your own because it’s easier, if moving here you can usually find your prescription or kind but it depends on what you use. i wrote up a post about this too. You can bring most meds in, except for tylenol and a few others. Oh and for aspirin, you can bring in ibuprofen, but you can also find it quite easily too, just depends on if you feel you need it or not.

    Per the internet stick – Softbank does offer an internet stick and essentially you pay for a monthly plan that costs about the same as an iPhone data plan. 4000-6000/month (or per packet, but if you’re using the internet a lot it would make more sense to pay the flat rate, although some plans will cap out at the max rate.) I’m not sure if you can only do it for a few months or not, as I only asked about pricing.

    I would also suggest for the list above bringing floss. Of course, you can find it here, but if you like or use a particular kind, you won’t find too many options here. Don’t worry about toothpaste, as that’s easy to find (yes, with flouride). Might also consider sunscreen – although they do have it here, the types may not work for you. All in all it’s quite easy to find most things here in Japan but if traveling a lot of things make more sense to pack in small amounts so you don’t need to spend time locating stuff. But, at least you know if you run out they are possible to find! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m travelling to Japan to backpack for two weeks with a friend of mine and this information has been very helpful in terms of figuring out what to pack and not load ourselves down. Thank you so much for all the posts and tips!!!




  29. can i bring my personal lap top in japan.
    because some of my friends told me that lap top is not allowed to bring in japan.
    im only a tourist
    pls.reply thank you.

  30. use cold because the heat is what damages the hair. your hair has many layers to it. and when you blow dry it it destroys the cuticle. which is what gives you dead ends. and yes it can cause balding. it just depends how often you blow dry it…dont do it too much!

  31. Hi, I am going to Okazaki and Kyoto as an exchange student in a couple of weeks and I was wondering if you had any good ideas on what to buy if my budget is $100 to $200 dollars. Thanks!

    1. Can you be a little more specific? If you’re looking for things to buy before you go to Japan you should take a look at the list and the comments. Also shoes are a good idea too!

  32. Thanks for posting this! I didn’t realise some of those things were hard to buy in Japan…
    But, since I’m living there for a long time for military reasons, do you have any suggestions for what to buy for long period stays? Say, three of four years?

  33. Thanks for the post!
    I’m traveling in December for the World Cup soccer tournament. I will be there for 10 days and would like to know what would be the best way to travel between these cities; Nayarita-Nagoya-Toyota. If by train is the only way, should I by the Japan Rail Pass and how much would that be (more or less)



  34. Nice article. I’m hoping to visit Japan next year if things with my job go according to plan and it’s good to have a rough idea of things to buy.

  35. Hi All, could anyone tell me exactly what is minimum wage for a foreigner (Filipino) on a full time visa, while working for a 1 year contract?

    I apply as a photographer and was hired. Unfortunately my rate per month is about 70299 yen plus free lodging. Foods not included. Do you guys think this is fair enough i have a family and 1 kid who will be in grade 1 this school year. I am from the Philippines


    1. I’m not sure what the minimum wage is, but I assume it’s the same for nationals as well as foreigners. Is that 70299 yen enough to live off and save? This depends on where you live, what you eat, and if you get your own room you don’t have to share with anybody. Having a small 1 bedroom apartment/flat could run 30,000+ yen per month and that doesn’t cover utilities, internet, furniture, or appliances. So you can figure out how much your living conditions are worth and add it to your salary to get an idea on how much the true value of the job is. You’ll have to budget your estimated cost for food for your family and the transportation, as well as school expenses.

      1. Thanks Steve

        Approximately 70,000 yen is my NET and i think its in Akihibara..The guy told me i will get my food allowance in this amount and between 15,000-30,000 yen for the cost of living.

  36. I’m here in Japan now for two weeks (1 week for work, and 2 week for travel). I exchanged $500 into yen at about a rate of 78 yen/dollar. I am a little concerned that I’m going to run short on cash. Many small restaurants will only accept yen, and that is really draining my supply of cash. I just went into a local 7-11 and loaded my basket with food for my hotel room. The sign said they accept Mastercard, but when I got to the counter, they told me that they only take Japan-based Mastercards. So I was left to pay for the whole thing with cash – over 2000 yen. Many attractions are not going to take credit cards either, so if you want to visit a museum a shrine, use public transportation, or eat at a local establishment – then take plenty of cash with you.

    1. 78 yen/dollar hurts doesn’t it? When I moved to Japan it was 120 yen/dollar. 35% drop since then… it’s a killer. I’m amazed how plastic isn’t widely accepted. Sometimes when I use it at a large department store they are surprised.

      7-11 ATM accepts my Master Card from the US. Also any post office takes my non-Japan Visa and MasterCard. Daily limits are $500 US on the card (39,000 yen) so if you need a lot you can use multiple cards or hit the ATM in the A.M. then in the P.M.

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