by Bryce Marley-Jarrett
When packing for an overseas vacation, most people will always forget something! The biggest issue is finding a replacement for the forgotten items in your destination. In Japan, this can seem quite daunting with a foreign language barrier. Don’t stress about leaving something behind before heading to Japan, Japlanning has your back! Today we have a great guide to the most commonly forgotten items, and how you can replace them while traveling in Japan.
We have all been there, the last minute packing, and no matter how many lists we have for what to pack, we get on the plane, or get into our hotel rooms and realise we forgot; our toiletries, the camera, batteries, painkillers and more. Never fear, most things are replaceable, won’t take long to organise, and will not derail your trip! Today we're going through some of the most common items people forget, and how you can replace them while in Japan.
Let’s start replacing our forgotten items!
Probably the most common items we forget: either just one or all of them are our toiletries.
Toothbrushes, shavers, deodorant and more are the most forgotten items and usually this would mean a trip out to the local supermarket or pharmacy. However Japan is quite the exception!
Most Hotels and accommodations (from capsule hotels to ryokans to five star hotels) all come in room with full toiletry amenities.
You will find in most accommodations in Japan the following, and they are replenished daily.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Q Tips
- Shaver and shaving cream
- Cotton swabs
- Shampoo, conditioner and body soap
If you can’t find any of the supplied items you can easily find brand name items at a local drug store. The most common one across Japan is bright Yellow and Blue on the outside and called "Matsumoto Kiyoshi", however other major ones are "Kokumin" and "Sundrug". These stores are open long hours everyday. Any items you want to purchase in the realm of toiletries you will find here.
If you have forgotten any beauty products or feminine hygiene products, these stores are your go-to as well, as they stock a large range of all these items, from non branded, to international brands.
It’s so easy to forget certain items of clothing, or simply run out.
Underwear and socks are the biggest item people either forget, or don’t bring enough of. Another issue is bringing weather-appropriate clothing. Don’t have a winter jacket, or a pair of shorts for the heat? Japlanning recommend you making your way to the nearest UNIQLO, which thankfully are all-over Japan. This Japanese brand specialises in basics and fashionable clothing built to a high quality and very affordable. UNIQLO is the place to get any of those clothing items you have forgotten for a cheap price.
If you’re a larger person, you will want to hit up the flagship UNIQLO in Ginza, Tokyo and Osaka. These both stock western larger sizes amongst the regular stock.
Perhaps you forgot to bring a good pair of walking shoes? Almost on every corner in a major city and even in small towns you will find the king of shoes in Japan: ABC Mart. This shoe store stocks most brands and some excellent designs you may not find anywhere else.
You can find both cheap shoes as well as expensive designer shoes, so whatever you're looking for you will be able to pick up fast.
Okay, so medications are commonly forgotten as well. From painkillers, to prescriptions, we have all forgotten them once.
Well first thing is first, for the over the counter kind of medications like panadol / tylenol, these are available at drugstores like "Matsumoto Kiyoshi", and the packaging is very similar to the USA tylenol packaging. You may need to ask for it from the counter, however don’t fret - most pharmacies will be able to understand common brand names in English if they’re not otherwise fluent. (Note for Australians: Tylenol is panadol!)
When it comes to prescriptions, this is a little tricker as you may need to see a Japanese doctor to get a Japanese script for your medication. Be sure to travel with copies of your prescriptions, and also email scans to yourself so you can always get them.
To find a doctor in any major city that speaks English, first try your hotel concierge; If no luck there, your best friend is Google.
You can also try visiting a pharmacy and showing them the prescription. We have found many pharmacies have employees that speak English, and they usually will be able to refer you to the nearest English-speaking doctor.
To find a pharmacy, look for the shop fronts with a medical cross; alternatively ask your hotel front desk for the nearest ‘yakkyoku’.
Probably the biggest category of items that people forget are electrical related.
Whether it is batteries for the camera or the camera itself, converter plugs to get your chargers working in Japan, or even forgetting the charger all together! You have two options there, either get as many great pics till the battery dies, or you will have to cave and buy a charger. Japan is a beautiful place, buy the charger!
All of these to be forgotten are inconvenient, and the idea of paying money for something you have at home is always off-putting; however, looking past that, it is pretty quick and painless to get replacements in Japan. It is the electrical capital of the world you know!
Japlanning’s recommendation would be to go to your nearest Yodobashi Camera store. Don’t worry they sell all electrical goods, usually over 8+ floors. Here is your one stop shop for getting your replacements.
If you can’t find a Yodobashi, a LABI or BIC Camera are other giant electrical department stores that are just as good.
Here is the best solutions to the most common replacements.
Batteries left at home?
You forgot the camera battery? Take your camera with you and visit a Yodobashi. Find the camera department and ask for a battery. Show the camera so they know the model, and they will have you a new one fast.
Forgot your Charger?
Very similar to the battery. Take your camera or other device to a Yodobashi, or similar, and find the department that covers the electrical goods and explain the need for a charger. They will be able to match your item with a charger that will work in Japan!
Another tip: Talk to the hotel front desk, and see if they have any spare chargers! People leave their chargers in droves, and you will usually find hotels have a box filled with spares for phones and sometimes cameras.
Forgot your Camera?
Okay so this is a big purchase to make, and not always the best. However look at the positive side: You're in Japan, home of most camera brands. At least you will be able to get a new one that won’t be for sale back home for at least another few months! Jump on down to your local Yodobashi, BIC Camera or LABI. Go to the camera department and have a look around. Be sure the camera you want has an English language setting, otherwise the friendly staff will point you to the international model section.
Once you have the one you want to buy, let an employee know, and they will ring that up for you. This is important: Be sure to bring your passport with you, as you will not have to pay tax on the item, and they will put paperwork in your passport. Consumption Tax is currently 8%, so you will get an instant saving of 8% on items over 5,000¥ (about $50.00)! Another thing to consider is getting a store points card. Most electrical stores have their own, and you will get 10% of the cost in “points” on the card; 1 point usually equals 1¥ and you can use the points on your next purchase!
Forgot your converter plugs?
With this dilemma, first talk to the front desk and see if they have any for guests. Most hotels will lend them out to borrow, which will save you buying one! If this doesn’t work, hop down to an electrical store and you can easily pick up a world converter block that will cover you for anywhere you travel in the future!
Travelling anywhere and realising you forgot some of those necessities is always horrible, especially in a foreign speaking country. The idea of trying to performance art mime your way through telling a local what you need, will usually make most just forget about it and try and make do. Don’t let this happen to you in Japan! bookmark this guide and it will be help you get back on track fast and fully equipped with all the necessities you wish you had remembered. Then you can get back on to the important part, your holiday!
What item have you forgotten the most on vacation?
Tell us in the comments below!