Baggage and Shipping
Keep your baggage to a reasonable minimum. Remember that they sell most things you need in Japan; and that every extra item you take becomes a crutch that prevents you from learning to deal with Japan in an innovative way. Students from past years on the program advise that because living space in Japan is limited, too many possessions can inhibit you.
The regulations vary for each airline. Please review the rules that accompany your airline ticket, or contact the airline directly for current information. Generally, two pieces of check-in luggage and one “carry-on” are allowed per customer, within certain weight and dimensional restrictions. On most international flights the maximum weight of each checked piece of luggage is 50 lbs (23 kgs). Maximum size is 62 inches/158 cm, using linear measurement (length plus height plus width). Be sure to check with your airline for their specific regulations.
For your own protection, all baggage should be identified on the inside and the outside with your name, home address, telephone number, and destination abroad. You may wish to protect your baggage with personal property or baggage insurance.
Each passenger is generally allowed one piece of carry-on luggage plus a briefcase/laptop computer/purse. In addition, each passenger may carry a coat, umbrella, cane or other “special” item. Please check with your airline for their specific regulations on weight, size, and number of allowed carry-on pieces. All items not needed in flight should be checked. Medicine, keys, important papers and travel documents (passport) should be carried on board by the passenger.
The Japan Center staff requests that all students bring an overnight pack consisting of the following items in case your luggage is lost in transit or bags shipped from the airport take longer than expected:
- Indoor Shoes
- Rain Gear
- At least $300 for the first week and for the cost of travelling to the Center
Registering Foreign-Made Items before Departing the US:
US Customs regulations require, prior to departure, you to register any foreign-made goods you are taking to Japan and are planning to bring back with you that you purchased in the States. Otherwise, it is assumed that they were purchased overseas and duties may be imposed. In our experience, this is rarely a problem; customs agents are familiar with current models of cameras, for example. However, if you have something other than standard electronic equipment --such as a Japanese bicycle, or pearls-- it may be best to register these.
Before you leave the US, it would be worthwhile to learn about current US Customs regulations so that you know what you can and cannot bring back and if there will be any duties imposed on what you bring or send back.
Many international travelers have too much luggage to haul up and down train station stairways. If you are in this situation, one option is to ship your bags from the airport to JCMU. This is a common and reasonably inexpensive option in Japan. This service is available in the lobbies of Kansai, Nagoya, and Narita airports and costs about $20 per bag. You can fill out the application form in English, and you can usually use your credit card to pay. Bags usually arrive the following day, but delays are not unknown. You should bring essential items with you on the train. Please use the JCMU address.
If you are meeting with the staff escort, you may have to ship one or more pieces of your luggage, however, you will do this together as a group.