Things to Know: Packing (part two)Tokyo, Spring 2012
As I said before, I was really glad that I did not pack as lightly as is recommended, and I want to use this post to explain why.
First, after you arrive in Tokyo and collect your luggage, you are met with IES staff and volunteer Japanese students. You will immediately be given paperwork to use to essentially ‘mail’ your luggage to wherever you may be staying. Thus, if you pack heavily, ultimately it doesn’t matter. Your heaviest luggage will be taken care of. You’ll just need to hold onto a small bag with a few days of clothing for the IES orientation. So don’t worry about whether or not you’ll have to lug fifty suitcases onto a crowded subway – because you won’t.
Second, the amount of clothing I packed allowed me to coordinate a different outfit almost everyday. Many kids I know ended up repeating outfits maybe once a week, or once every two weeks. And by repeating, I mean repeating the exact outfit, not just a piece of it. While I definitely agree with IES when they say pack clothing you can pair into different outfits (instead of individual, set outfits), don’t be afraid to pack a lot if you really want to!
Finally, I would like to address the recommendation to “buy local clothing so you fit in!” This, to me, is worthless advice in terms of Japan for several reasons.
1. Japanese clothing may not fit you. In America I wear a size small in terms of shirts. In Japan, I would wear around a large, or even larger than that. This doesn’t have much to do with my body-type, rather, my chest size. Women who are heavily endowed will not be able to find suitable clothing in Japan (in terms of underwear or outerwear). Also, if you have big hips like me, it is highly unlikely that pants/shorts/skirts will fit you.
2. Japanese clothing is expensive. If you look hard enough, especially in Harajuku or Walmart-like stores, you may be able to find clothing at around 15-20 dollars a pop. The next highest can be found in chain stores like H&M, Forever21, and Uniqlo (the places you want to go if you want to find sizes that will fit you!). Prices here are from $50-150 or so. Everywhere else is going to be out of your price-range (unless you’re extremely wealthy).
3. Japanese style may not be your style. For girls, the clothing is usually flowy and floral. Girls will wear small shorts or skirts, but often have tights on underneath. Japanese girls also dress up quite nicely, whereas Americans may be used to a t-shirt and sweatpants. For guys, clothing is usually tight-fitting and fashionable, with accessories not normally seen in America. But you can get away with t-shirts and jeans!
With the conclusion of this post and the last post, I think I have pretty much summed up clothing problems. The next post will involve items not related to clothing. If you still have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section.
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