Hello again everyone! So I went to the doc today and was informed that I just need to be careful about the old leg, and that part of my problem is that I have moving, or as I believe she called them, floating something which meant kneecaps. So my kneecaps don't stay where they're supposed to. So that was fun to find out. But, so long as they don't go popping around again, I can't complain. I've managed to more or less get packed. I will be carrying a small dufflebag for carry on, a 25ish in. bag of clothes and a 21ish in. bag for shoes, etc. The only concern is that the bags each have to be under 50 lbs. I haven't weighed them yet, so we'll be holding our breath. On a different front, me and the family finally figured out our banking situation problem. Up until this point, our problem was how to get money from an American account into a Japanese account (which I will set up when I get there). First of all, personal checks are not used in Japan. A Japanese bank can accept them, but it takes a few months, as many of the banks send them back to the US to check them out, before accepting the money. There are also things called INTERNATIONAL POSTAL MONEY ORDERS (not like regular money orders). These cost $3.85 at the US post office and can run any amount up to $700. Then, when you recieve them in the mail in Japan, you simply take it to the Post Office and they cash it out, then I would take the cash and deposit it. The snag here is that they are relatively cheap to send snail mail, but can get stolen, and to ship them securely and quickly, it's $40-50. Before I go on, let me explain why just using my American account is an issue. My bank charges 3% every time I make a debit or a credit purchase, or withdraw money, whereas there is no fee for a Japanese card. Also, not all ATMs in Japan are international (usually the post office adn some 7/11s have international 24 hr ATMs), so that means I'll be limited, and many places do not take credit cards. In Japan, most people pay with cash, so it is not unusual to carry hundreds of dollars (yen) on your person (the low crime rates allow this to be possible). Also, because I got the JASSO scholarship, $800/month are being given to me by the govt. into a Japanese account, so I have to get one. Anyhoo, so here's what we settled on. I am going to go with some yen with me, with a IPMO, and then, I'm going to withdraw money from my American account until I get a Japanese bank account. At that point, my family can then wire money directly into my account. For wiring money, there is no limit to how much you can wire, but there is a $45 fee. Even so, if you do it sparingly, it comes out to be the cheapest way to do things.
I still haven't heard any more about my family, but I'll e-mail the coordinator soon to find out. One should note that Citibank in the US is not connected in accounts to the Citibank in Japan, so having a Citibank account here will still be a problem once you get over there, though I've heard that the Citibank's have international ATMs, for anyone who needs to know. My next project is figuring out the different rail passes, so we'll be checking onto that soon. MY ADVICE: check different banks rates well in advance of your leaving to find which ones charge no fees for overseas spending. I've heard that Commerce and First Bank have no fees, though I'm not positive about that. This will save you some cash if you'll be paying out of that account for any amount of time overseas (this goes for places outside of Japan as well).