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Aug 6, 2012 08:35 PM

Receiving a food care package from the US


i'm wondering if anyone has ever received a food care package from the US and if you know if it was easy to send from the US? i have a friend living in Hachioji and se was recently visiting back in the US. she talked about missing some american staples like trader joe's food and i thought it would be a nice surprise. i've only received packaged items from japan from my relatives and it's never been food :( but they seem to use a private delivery service.

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  1. Yes we used to do it every 3-4 months or so, from my mother in southern NJ. It's "easy" but not "cheap" since USPS stopped doing ground shipments overseas. It takes about 1-2 weeks and costs about $80-$100 for a copier-paper-sized box, so she probably has to really miss the stuff for it to be worth it. If you have more specific questions please feel free to ask.

    Assuming your relatives were sending stuff EMS, that's actually an arm of Japan Post.

    Also I assume your friend already goes to CostCo (there's one in Sagamihara).

    6 Replies
    1. re: kamiosaki

      WHAT?!!! that's really expensive! all i wanted was to send her a box of mac and cheese and maybe some Snickers or some american candy. so that'll cost about $100?? crazy!

      1. re: trolley

        No, Kamiosaki said if you send a "copier-paper-sized box" filled with stuff, presumably over 10 lbs, it could cost that much. If you're sending some candy bars and mac and cheese, you'll be paying according to its weight. Kind of like sending anything domestically.

        1. re: E Eto

          I just sent a 7lbs package from San Francisco to Tokyo via the postal service (cheapest air mail option they had) and it set me back $68. I looked at UPS rates and it was something ridiculous like $180.

          1. re: E Eto

            haha. ok, so this was my understanding of it. well when copier paper sized box was mentioned i literally pictured a size of copy paper (8.5x11) box!! maybe 2" deep! not the actual copier paper box, the kind with the top and holds several reams of paper!!


          2. re: trolley

            You can probably fit that stuff into one of the flat rate boxes, and I think they are $20-40 to Japan depending on size. One of them, I think the smallest, is a bit shorter and narrower than a NJ phone book. Go to the post office and get one, the boxes themselves are free, and you can take it home and see how everything will fit. If like me you wasted endless hours playing Tetris growing up, you will finally capitalize on that time investment in spatial-skills development when you pack boxes to ship to Japan via USPS.

            Other lessons, some learned the hard way:

            1 - always mark it as "gift"
            2 - never include receipts, paperwork, personal info or anything like that
            3 - don't ship batteries (actually the USPS site has a list of prohibited items somewhere)
            4 - don't use cursive handwriting on the outside of the package, many Japanese will not be able to read it. We had a minor scandal one time in the beginning when my mother's finest Catholic grammar school handwriting was summarily deemed unreadable by the Osaki post office on Yamate-dori and the package got sent all the way back to the US. Get the full address from them in English and print in big block letters clearly on the box or better yet print a big label out and cover it with clear masking tape.
            5 - pack securely, compress the stuff in and make the lid hard to close but not too hard. You could use TJ's Pirate Booty bags as packing material.
            6 - put everything in ziploc bags
            7 - tape ALL the edges and corners of the box, not just the seams
            8 - introduce your friend to Foreign Buyer's Club:

            And while there's no TJ's, she should probably also check out Nissin and National Denentoshi, those things you mentioned are staple items at those places, they have been discussed before on this board and can be searched for. They both deliver so it shouldn't be too painful from the western kogai's.

            1. re: kamiosaki

              this is great advice kamiosaki. yes, i get the handwriting part. all my relatives live in japan including my father so i get what they're looking for. i will let her know about nissin and national denentoshi.