Moving to Japan: A Checklist

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So you finally have your visa, decided on a starting date within the company, gotten your flight booked, and at this point maybe even decided on your apartment (or perhaps a weekly rental for the time being). Great! Now all that’s left is to pack. Of course, we know only too well that this is easier said than done. How can you possibly fit in everything you want to bring in a luggage (or two, or three) with limited weight allowance? Here’s a check list of the must-bring items as well as recommended items to bring to Japan. On the contrary, we also have a list of items we DON’T recommend bringing plus the items you actually SHOULDN’T bring to Japan.

  1. Must-bring items
  2. Items we recommend you bring
  3. Items we WOULDN’T recommend bringing
  4. Items you SHOULDN’T bring

I. Must-bring items (a.k.a do not leave home without these!)

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1) Passport (with visa)

  • It goes without saying that you can’t even enter Japan without this, so don’t forget to bring this!


  • Recommended: Over 3,000 USD in yen (roughly 300,000 JPY)
  • Why?
    – In CC2’s case, your salary for the first working month will be paid at the end of the following month. That’s almost two whole months with no income.
    – Expect to spend a bit with buying necessary appliances, furniture, and the like.
    – Japan is more open to credit/debit cards or paying via applications like PayPay, but there are still some shops that accept cash only.

3) Legal and important documents as required by your country

  • These may include the following: graduation certificate, diploma, transcript of university records, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and even a printout of your job offer or contract.
  • Bringing legal identification from your country might also be a good idea. These include driver’s license, national IDs, and the like.

4) Clothes

  • Recommended: Bring a variety of clothes. Formal office wear isn’t required in CC2, but it’s always a good idea to have a suit on hand for that one formal/business occasion. If it’s not winter, we recommend skipping on thick winter wear to save luggage space. Just be sure to bring at least one jacket or coat.
  • Tip: Clothes can be bought in Japan, but be sure to bring more of yours, including underwear, if you have sizes larger or smaller than the Japanese ones. (For females: bra sizes are different here in Japan!)

5) Shoes

  • Recommended: Comfortable footwear and at least one pair for formal occasions.
  • Tip: Same with clothes, shoes can be bought in Japan, but take note of the difference in sizes.

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6) Medicine – prescribed and over-the-counter

  • If you are on regular medication for any reason (including birth control pills) and would find it difficult to obtain your medicine in Japan, then it’s best to bring them with you. However, be sure to note the limitations, restrictions and prohibitions regarding certain pharmaceutical ingredients. Click here for a detailed Q&A on bringing medicine to Japan by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
  • Tip: Over-the-counter medicine as well as vitamins or supplements can be bought in Japan, but we recommend bringing some anyway especially for those first few weeks when you’re still new to the country AND the language! This writer recommends painkillers in particular for headaches brought on by jet lag and general stress in being in a new environment!

7) Gadgets and electronics

  • These include (but are not limited) to the following:
    – your phone/smartphone (we recommend open line/sim free if you want to keep using your phone instead of buying a Japanese one)
    – universal adapters or power converters (especially if your country uses 3-prong plugs for chargers, etc.)
    – portable chargers

8) Bath and face towels

  • Unless you’re staying in a hotel for the first few days, we consider these as necessities, especially for your personal hygiene. (Also, towels here in Japan are kind of on the thin side, just saying!)

9) Toiletries/groom kit

  • Again, these are necessities for at least the first few days and include shampoo, conditioner, soap, a razor, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, perfume, etc.

10) COVID-19 and first aid kit

  • In light of novel coronavirus that’s been spreading in various countries throughout the world, we recommend bringing some masks, alcohol, and hand sanitizers. Just in case, bring some bandaids, bandages, and other items you may deem necessary for a first aid kit. (Some OTC medicine may be included here.)

II. Items we recommend you bring (a.k.a home comforts you will miss!)

1) Food

  • We advise bringing food for those first few days or even weeks of familiarizing yourself with your local supermarket, Japanese brands and flavors, and just general homesickness. Long-lasting food (snacks, canned goods, etc.) from home are especially recommended. However, be aware that meat products are subject to animal quarantine. Click here for more information.

2) Condiments and spices

3) More toiletries, grooming and beauty products

  • If you use particular toiletries and makeup brands. A few Google searches also revealed that some people moving to Japan prefer bringing their own deodorant and toothpaste.

4) More gadgets

  • Laptop or tablet
  • Hard drive – if you have your own movie/drama/anime collection! (note: pornographic items are prohibited!)
  • Camera, if you have one

5) Credit card

  • Why? Getting a Japanese credit card isn’t that easy if you’re new to the country. And as Maxim (CC2 programmer from Canada) says, “Any card by a reputable brand like VISA goes a long way when getting signed up for things like a phone plan and internet.”

III. Items we WOULDN’T recommend bringing

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1) Electric appliances

2) Kitchen and cooking utensils

  • Most of these can be bought at 100-yen shops!

IV. Items you SHOULDN’T bring

Most of these are self-explanatory: they’re illegal anywhere! Click here for a comprehensive list by the Japan Customs.

  1. Drugs
  2. Firearms
  3. Explosives
  4. Counterfeit money
  5. Pornographic materials
  6. Fake goods

All images are for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit:,

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