I think I’m gonna do this bit in stages, mainly because I’m still in the process of deciding what to pack, but also because it’s easier to digest this way! Anyways, I have been sitting writing/revising this packing list for months (mostly because I didn’t have a job and had nothing better to do – this has been resolved!). I’ve been looking at loads of websites, pulling bits and pieces together, even drawing from my lists of things I bring to University every year (a monster of a task each time).
In this first section, I’m gonna look at that all important first aid kit/mini pharmacy that is full of useful items (some of which you can’t get in Japan) and also other toiletries that you might need. Unfortunately this is partly centred on what a girl would bring, so guys will need to adapt it (only a little, though, I promise!).
First off: your trusty first aid kit
The good thing about this is, although it takes up room in your luggage now, you don’t have to bring much/any of it back!
– Plasters/Blister Plasters
– Cold and Flu Medicine
– Cold Sore Cream
– Antiseptic Cream
– Concentration Gel
– Nail File
– Nail Clippers
Most of the things on this list are essential for going another country whose language you aren’t entirely confident reading. Although you can get a lot of this out there, having a small supply will give you time to find out the best products (and their names) for when you run out. You might find you prefer them.
One exception to this rule is Paracetamol. Anyone who’s been to Japan and come down with a sudden, but excruciating, headache will have found out that Japanese pain killers are, well, a bit crap, if I’m honest. They aren’t made up the same way as Western Paracetamol and therefore aren’t as effective. Now if you don’t want to be stuck at Customs for hours with a drug dog, I wouldn’t advise bringing masses of Paracetamol. I’m only bringing a few packets because I don’t use it that often. If you need it for medical reasons, you will need to get a letter from your doctor/contact the Japanese Embassy to get a special permit to bring medicine in. Also, be wary of Cold and Flu tablets/Vic’s Nasal Spray. These can sometimes contain an ingredient that can be used as a Precursor for Narcotics (it will usually tell you on the packet). These are NOT allowed into Japan and will get you a stern warning at Customs.
See her for more details: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html
I can highly recommend the Imodium. It may seem like you’re unlikely to need them (what with the clean water, lack of tropical diseases, etc.) but you have to keep in mind that you are drastically changing your diet when you go to Japan – a lot of the food’s structure’s will be different to what you’re used to digesting and a large number of foreign students find themselves getting constipation or diarrhoea in their first wee while in Japan. This could be a few days up to several weeks – until your body is used to digesting the new food. I would recommend eating as much native food as you can to speed up this process, but also drink plenty of water – you don’t want to get dehydrated!
Now, if you’re clever and use Tetris-type skills, you might be able to fit this all into one neat box. Although depending on your packing methods, you might end up having everything loose and in the gaps between everything else. I’m going for the box method at the moment, but I’ll have to see how it goes!
Next: other toiletries
To some of you, this may seem like a small list, to other it may seem excessive. I think I’ve got the balance of toiletries I might need for my adventure. There are a few essentials that I will need before I get a chance to find out where the shops are (Razors/Hair Products/Deodorant/Tooth Stuff/Comb/Hair Bands). Although I may end up asking my mum to send me out more toothpaste (there you go mum: my 21st birthday present sorted – Toothpaste, and crème eggs) because Japanese toothpaste is supposed to be a bit rubbish. I also have my vanity toiletries – a couple of small bottles of nail varnish, some eyeliner and eye shadow (a girl’s gotta look her best, you know – although I have now proven scientifically that it does indeed rain every time I wear makeup). These aren’t essential, but they’re nice to have.
Since the summers out in Japan can be hot and humid, I have the essential sun cream/aftersun but I also have a little container of Antibac gel. My Japanese teacher (Amano-sensei) keeps reminding us that since it’s so humid, there is a chance of getting a lot of germs on your hands, so this is a must. Plus it’s just hygienic in general! Lip Balm is also useful for the summer period since, apart from its obvious use, it can be used to rehydrate the area around your nose – this can become dry/inflamed because of hayfever or a cold.
Finally, FYI LADIES (men, you can avert your eyes if you wish!), I am bringing a pack of supplies with me (not pictured) as I’m not sure about what the Japanese ones are like. I’ve heard mixed stories, so you may have to shop around, or bring loads from home and put them in all the gaps in your packing!
– Compact mirror
– Mini Shampoo/Conditioner/Shower Gel/Deodorant
– Antibacterial Gel
– Sun Cream
– After sun (Aloe Vera Gel)
– Lip Balm
– Nail Varnish
– Eyeliner/Eye shadow