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Packing for Japan Exchange 2010

Bags :

Japanese homes are generally very small. While, there will probably not be any much room for you to store your things. You may have to handle your bags up and down long flights of stairs.  Pack light! You will be able to wash your clothes and you home stay and remember, you will wear uniforms during most of your time at Takayama.

Plan on taking one small or medium bag and a backpack or carry on.

Note :

Check American Airlines. Restrictions change! Weight guidelines are strictly enforced by the airline. Penalties are assessed. Typically for oversees flights you are allowed a maximum of two, 50 pound bags, one carryon (backpacks work well) and a purse. (This needs to be confirmed with the airline). Remember, travel LIGHT. You will have gifts to take and gifts and souvenirs to bring home. Save room. Bring one medium to small suitcase and a backpack.

Bottom line:

You may take one suitcase, one carry on, and a purse/personal item.

You need to be able to handle your luggage yourself. Keep it to one bag. Typically there are luggage carts in the airports to help when moving through customs. You may not bring any fresh produce into or out of Japan.

Clothing and Hair:

It will be the beginning of summer in Takayama in June. At about 6000 feet, in the evenings this mountain area may be cool enough for a sweater or a light jacket. There is little air conditioning. The days can be hot and very humid. Please note that Japan, in general, is very conservative in dress and more formal than in the US. Girls, please be aware that bare midriffs and low-cut tops are inappropriate for Japan and even more so for Takayama, which is a small conservative community. While at school, hair is to be pulled back and off of the collar. 
Please keep hair your natural hair color until you return from the trip.


Boys uniform (Students decided.)

Proposed by students:
navy blue pants, white shirt, black belt and socks   plaid tie that matches the plaid of the girls' skirts

Girls' uniform:(Students decided.  )

Pleated plaid skirt (knee or mid calf length), white, short sleeve button shirt, white socks. Note: you will often sit on the floor. Short, straight skirts make this very difficult to do. Pleated skirts are best. Test it out by sitting on the floor.

Inside school shoes for both:

Slip on athletic shoes or other slip on shoes that have not been worn outside. These will be left at school or carried back and forth each day. They should be new or never worn outside.

Other clothing:

* Everyone should have these items pajamas comfortable plane clothes jeans or slacks sweater/light jacket long sleeve shirts socks

Inside slipper shoes outside shoes *

* Shoes should comfortable and easy to take off and put back on. Many public buildings require that you take off your shoes. Lace-up shoes are quite annoying, but will do. You will get used to taking your shoes off and on. Even inside slippers and bare feet are not permitted on tatami mats. (Flip flops are not appropriate.)  Think comfort. We will be walking miles and miles in Kyoto and Nara and you may have to walk a distance to school.


toothpaste, tooth brush, female products, deodorant ,etc. (no makeup or jewelry are allowed at school), Japanese drugs stores have everything that you might need and are really fun, but you dont know when you will have access to them and cant always read what an item is.


Please list all prescription drugs and give to Ms. Valentine. Include the generic name. Provide detailed instructions about their use.

Hair dryers/curling irons and straighteners:

Japan uses 100v electrical current. Bring only electrical appliances (hair blowers/curling irons/straighteners) that have adjustable voltage. You can overload your host families electrical system or possibly cause a fire.


Start collecting photographs of family and friends, your house, school and other things that are a part of your life in the US. These provide ways for you to share and to begin conversations.

Passports and Money:

Get something to carry your passport and money. You can buy yen at several places in San Antonio. Please have at least $100 worth of yen with you when you leave San Antonio, (remember to have some US dollars for the travel part of the trip.) Frost Bank charges $5 to exchange. There are money machines in many places in Takayama. Check with your bank to see if your card can be used overseas and what is your limit. There is also a bank in Takayama where US traveler's checks (20's or 50's) can be converted. The difficulty with this getting to the bank.  We do not want to impose on our hosts families or the school getting you to a bank to get money.  We can get money in Kyoto.

We suggest that the teachers collect all passports once we are in Japan and distribute them again when we arrive at the airport to leave the country. If you would prefer to keep you passport, please talk to one of us and we can work it out. We will hold passports in Kyoto. Never leave your passport in a hotel room or pack it in your suitcase. Japan has no visa requirements for trips fewer than 90 days.

There are no immunizations or vaccinations required to enter Japan.

Spending Money:

This is difficult to gauge. You will need money for dinners and lunch during our time in Kyoto as well as bus and entry fees.  Also, we will need to decide where we might want to go in Kyoto and how much the entry fees are. Most places cost between 700 and 1,000 yen ($7-10). Most of your other meals will be covered by your host families. If we have a day or two to ourselves while we are in Takayama you will need lunch money for that day. Japan is expensive. You may also want to have spending money for snacks or drinks after school. Put some money aside too for gifts and souvenirs. $300 to $500 is suggested.
Takayama – spending money and shopping and activities you may have with the host family
Please set aside about 20000 - 25000¥ (~$200- $250) from your spending money for Kyoto for food and travel during our stay there.
Kyoto – estimates – Japan is expensive.
bus and train ~6000¥ ($60)
3 lunches, dinners, snacks, drinks ~10,000 -15000¥ ($100-$150)  A very small breakfast is served at the ryokan.
entrance fees ~ 4000¥ ($40) Total about: $250


cd or mp3 player, paperback books, (e-books are great!), magazines, a journal, pens, pencils, or other drawing materials if you want. The flight is longgggggg and even with the movies (always hard to hear) and conversations you may want something to do (besides sleep).