5 boxes, 43,000yen and 102.425kg later, I’m almost ready to go home.
Almost. I still have another 40kg in my baggage allowance for the flight home. So this is it? 3.5years of memories in Japan summed up in 140kg? I’ve taken over 10,000 photos this past year and a half alone and some experiences and firsts I’ll never forget. But how do you send all these physical fragments of your memories back home? These things you’ve grown attached to, amassed over the months and years which you can’t bear to part with. Worse still if you’re a hoarder (like me) and have even more stuff than the average person would.
Here’s what the 100kg I shipped home consisted of:
– Clothes and Shoes
– CDs, Fandom merchandise
I had a LOT of things, though the bulk of the weight was definitely the books/manga, CDs and clothes. Winter clothes are so heavy!!! And this was even after I got rid of things I didn’t want anymore, though I do tend to want to keep things….
1. Get rid of your unwanted items
The fastest way for me, besides just throwing them out, was to sell my things to thrift stores. You won’t get a lot of money off this, so be prepared. I sold my books/CDs/Magazines/games to Book Off, and my clothes, shoes, electrical/household appliances and fandom knic knacks to Hard Off and Home Off. Read this TokyoCheapo article for more about the ‘Off’ chain of stores to sell your old junk!
Another place to consider is Mandarake, which sells used fandom items and idol merchandise such as uchiwa, JE shop photos and concert goods so you can bring that used Arashi photobook over. Also, H&M currently accepts used clothes of any kind from any brand in exchange for a 500yen voucher.
One more option is to donate your clothes and items to organizations such as the Japan Relief Clothing Center or Orange Thrifty. Just post them your items in a box! Check this page, and this article too for more places to donate clothes or ways to get rid of them!
Of course you can also take to the internet forums/groups to sell or give away your things! Search for “Sayonara Sales” to find your area’s group on Facebook and get posting!
2. Pack items to ship home
Instead of buying boxes from the post office, you can easily get cardboard boxes from supermarkets, pharmacies or even convenience stores. I got all of mine from a Daikoku Drugstore branch and they had plently of empty boxes of all sizes. Simply ask one of the staff “Sumimasen, danbooru moraemasenka?” and they’ll point you in the direction of where the cardboard boxes are. Do try and get the sturdier boxes as some of mine were a bit squashed upon arrival.
Make sure to take note of the shipping restrictions! Generally no box over 30kg, and the dimensions of the box must be either less than 3m or 2m long, and 1.5 to 1.05m tall. Check the specifics for JapanPost here.
3. Save money by using Surface Mail to ship everything home
Surface Mail (Funabin 船便) is the cheapest but slowest way to literally ship your items back home. I found the cheapest rates with Japan Post, but it still cost me a whopping 43,000yen (USD350/SGD466)!! However, this was because I had smaller boxes of only 13 or 18kg when it would have been cheaper to have more bigger boxes of close to 30kg each. Shipping a 30kg box back costs 11,000yen while a 18kg box costs 8500yen. If I had shipped three 30kg boxes back, and one 10kg box, the total would be less than 40,000yen, saving me a few thousand.
Still only after lugging all 5 boxes to the post office on trollies did they inform me they had a pick up service! They’ll pick up your parcels from your door with no extra charge! (Possibly not all post office branches offer this service.) I wish I’d known this sooner.
It will take about 1 to 2 months for the items so make sure you haven’t packed anything essential!
4. Save yourself the effort by making use of Japan Post’s collection service
You don’t need to lug all those boxes to the post office yourself. Call up your branch and ask for their 集荷 shuuka service. No extra charge, they’ll come and pick up your boxes and you pay on the spot. They’ll set up a time and ask for the approximate weight and number of boxes you have so they’ll know to prepare a trolley etc if needed.
And then all that is left to do is wait, say your final tearful goodbyes to Japan and have that last meal to remember. For me, that’s a good bowl of ramen.