You’ve likely accumulated a lot over the years, and now it’s time to move…but no worries! Here are a few ways you can declutter and dispose of things you won’t be taking with you. The key to making this a smooth process is to start as early as you can.
Start by going through your belongings and determining what things you want to keep, give/sell, or throw away. A certain organization guru would suggest only keeping things that “spark joy,” but that’s entirely up to you. Our advice is to start this processes early so you have time to make arrangements for throwing out, selling/giving away, or shipping things home.
Garbage will have to be sorted, so try to start that early as well. keep in mind your neighborhoods garbage collection schedule, so you won’t have a pile of glass bottles stuck on your balcony for two weeks! If you’re not sure how to dispose of something, check out the waste disposal page here.
In terms of selling, there are quite a few options at your disposal.
- Local Facebook groups. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to selling and buying goods, and some regional groups, such as Hokuriku or Toyama prefecture-focused. These type of groups are a great option for selling larger items that are difficult to send via mail, like appliances or furniture, as you can physically meet the buyer at a convenient time. This option can be done at any time, and it can be useful when trying to sell things last minute.
- Online marketplaces. Sites and apps such as Mercari and Yahoo auction are good for smaller objects that you can mail easily. They also provide the most exposure, assuming you want to get a a higher price for your goods. If you go this route, be sure to start early to allow time for communication between potential sellers, and time for money to be transferred to your account.
- Recycle shops. They’re ubiquitous, they’re convenient, and they’re cheap; recycle shops are often touted as the go-to for good deals on gently-used appliances, furniture, and clothes, but they’re even thriftier when it comes to purchasing used goods. You can bring just about anything to sell here, given it’s still in decent condition, but don’t expect to get much money for it. I’ve been with a friend who brought in two bags of clothing and received about 80 yen total for it. You read that correctly, she got less than 100 yen for two bags of clothing. While selling things to recycle shops is convenient and requires little effort, the payout is meager. This is probably the least preferred option, but good if you don’t have time to sell using the other routes.
When you’ve decided on what things you want to keep, you’ll have to strategize how to get everything home in one piece. Be mindful of how you pack boxes, especially since they may be opened for customs inspections. Check out this handy packing guide from Kuroneko Yamato.
- In your luggage. Depending on how many things you want to take home, this may be the most budget-friendly option. Consider paying for extra or overweight luggage to maximize the amount of things you can bring with you AND have accessible as soon as you get to your destination. This method is especially ideal for fragile or sentimental items. To make travel to the airport easier, you can even send your luggage to the airport in advance! Kuroneko Yamato and JALABC are such services that will take care of your luggage so you can travel to the airport hands-free. You can drop off or schedule a pick-up up to several days in advance and simply pick up your bags when you check-in for your flight. I’ve used both services and they saved me a lot of hassle when I wanted to spend time traveling and exploring days before heading to the airport.
- By boat. Another relatively cost-effective option is to send boxes via surface mail (boat). This option is the slowest, and packages can take up to several weeks to arrive at their destination. If you go this route, there is potential for your box to get damaged or wet, so it is advised to place all of your items into plastic/vinyl bags to protect them. Keep in mind that there is also a high chance the the box will be opened and inspected at some point of the journey, so be aware of what is allowed to be sent via mail, as you’ll need to declare it on the customs form. There are also restrictions on the size of the boxes that can be sent abroad, so confirm on the JP Post site beforehand.
- By plane. This is the most expensive option, but reliable. Due to COVID restrictions, you cannot air mail packages over a certain size to some countries, so be sure to check with the courier you are using beforehand! There are also restrictions on what can be sent abroad via air mail. Here are some restrictions from Japan Post.