The Hurdles of Packing for Japan from India

Ehime to be the first city I explore

Manas Patil
Digital Global Traveler
6 min readJan 5, 2024


Image by author: That’s me by the Baishinji Beach, Matsuyama

“You’re going to need spoons, some forks, and a plate as well!” My mom argued.

After months of waiting for my Eligibility certificate from the Japanese Embassy, I finally got my Air Nippon Tickets to Japan.

Mom turned to my dad, “We need to get him that electric rice cooker and a pan.”

Unexpectedly, my Japan flight tickets from the company that were supposed to arrive a couple months had preponed to no more than a couple weeks away.

Where I had anticipated to have more time to pack, I was now in a pickle to buy essentials like the frantic toilet paper buyers during the pandemic.

My mom — who wasn’t the one moving — panicked more than me. Food being an ever-prevalent issue for vegetarians moving out of India (including mom) was her first priority.

I, on the other hand, who didn’t mind tasting rats at Mekong Delta opposed to the idea of bringing turmeric powder to Japan.

“I’m going to another country, not outer space,” I protested. “Other human beings live there and ought to be eating something every day.”

Learning Nihongo

Image by author: Getting on my first flight to Japan — Air Nippon Airlines

It wasn’t the packing that scared me most. It was the language.

I was one of the top students of my batch and we’d just finished N4. But anyone who knows about Japanese, knows that it just isn’t enough.

It isn’t close to fluency. I was worried about the Japanese dialect.

Unlike most of my friends at the Japanese language class, I was the only one moving to a more unheard place. Everyone was either headed to Tokyo or Nagoya. Some Osaka too I presume.

I was headed for the Ehime Prefecture. The only thing I knew was that it was popular for oranges (mikan).

But call me a soldier if you will, I was prepared to face anything once I stepped off the place at the Matsuyama Airport.

But surprisingly, meeting my company’s head at the airport, it wasn’t all that difficult and it relieved me.

The Downfall of the Electric Cooker

My idea was to travel like one of those carefree travel experts at the airport. The ones who travelled 6 months with one trolley bag that barely made it to their knees.

I didn’t like the idea of carrying a grocery list. You only see Indian people carrying MTR curry powder across the world. I was fixated on living off the local food instead.

I didn’t mind adjusting to new food, and I had my strong reasons for it.

Growing up in Indonesia for almost half my life, I’ve seen my family carrying more grocery than their clothes from India every single year. What does that look like? It’s chaotic.

It had become a necessity. And that’s what I was trying to change. If I was going to Japan, or any other other place to live, I’m changing this — I held my intention tight.

Still I finally did bring a bundle of Indomie (Instant fried Indonesian noodles that simply is one of the best things out there) out of strong obligation.

Image by author: Cold Soba Noodles (It’s best with that dark sauce)

And then there was the electric cooker my mom mentioned at the start of this article. We eventually did buy it later that evening. But my dad, always being witty on every aspect, checked up on Japan’s electricity supply.

It turns out while most countries either have 230 volts or the 120 volts supply system, Japan stands at 100 volts. I could get an adaptor for the cooker but I didn’t trust the efficiency.

That meant no electric cooker. So I bought another cooker, a traditional one for stoves that took much less luggage space.

Gladly, the waste electric cooker put the thought of other electrical appliances off my mom’s mind.

The Messy Wardrobe

Don’t even get started with my clothes — they were all over the place. Shirts and shoes I got from Indonesia, a heavy fur coat I got in Manali, and some from my Vietnam trip.

These were all barely months old and I couldn’t leave them out. But the more concerning part was what do I truly need?

Japan gets cold. But how cold? For someone who had never experienced a cold country, this was alarming. Were my jackets thick enough? Do I need gloves? How about earmuffs?

Earmuffs? Pfft. Probably not, now I’m panick shopping.

But you get the idea. I read the blogs on warm clothes but never fully understanding how much warmth I’d need.

Would my coat be enough to survive till the nearest jacket shop? Would I freeze to death or was I over-reacting? In the end, you can say I got a fair amount of clothes.

Most of which are going to permanent residents of my cupboard.

Image by author: Early Tokyo from Haneda Airport bus en route the next terminal for a connecting flight.

Drumroll… here’s the outcome!

When I put all my luggage on the weighing scales at the airport. Voila! I was successful in keeping it low — it was around 36 kg in total. My flight limit was 46 kg, a good 10 kg difference!

It seems trivial but I had won in this little war.

Now it’s almost been a month since I moved to Japan. I have (almost) settled in completely. And over time, I realized the misconceptions of Japan we’ve all had.

Food wasn’t all that bad. They eat raw cold meat a lot. It can get difficult for an outsider. Yes they do. Yes it can.

But most food I’ve had so far has been great. The Bukkake Udon, Ramen, Butadon, cold buckwheat soba with tempura, and the miso bowl soup were some of my favorites. Oh, and how could I forget sushi?

The only thing I didn’t find all that appetizing was the okonomiyaki.

The best part was a decent dish for around ¥500 — ¥700 at most local places (perks of being outside Tokyo). That was around Rs. 300 — 400 per meal or USD 3.5–4.5.

I used to spend around the same in Bangalore, so the difference seemed trifling. And that settled food.

Thrift Shops in Japan

Image by author: Look at those prices!

Having most evenings free to myself — I began my exploring routine. No Google Maps. I simply walk streets and observe every business. It usually tells a lot about the place.

One thing that caught my attention was the thrift shops. I found one where they kept everything from Mangas and clothes to guitars and vinyl records. Somehow, most were in well-refurbished condition. Don’t judge but this was music to my eyes (or candy to my ears).

I wasn’t aware of Japan’s thrift culture being such a huge market. Even used cars were somehow a better option than new ones.

This was to become my first go-to place for supplies now.

I just wish I’d known this earlier. For I could’ve bought all those jackets here for half the price :)



Manas Patil
Digital Global Traveler

A 22 year-old writer and a travel enthusiast. I also run a travel blog, the Madman's Journey