Buying bass while in Japan, how to get back...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by glen_with_1_n, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Hi Guys,

    Heading to Japan in the next month or two, and looking at buying a bass while im over there. Most specifically while im in Tokyo, i've heard the ochanomizu area is the place to be.

    My question is how do i get it back? Obviously on the plane, but im just wondering if you guys have done this yourself, or know of someone who has done this experience before.

    Also, any good tips on some good places to visit would be appreciated!




    Mar 26, 2012
    New York
    get a proper hardcase and extra wrap your bass. If you can carry it on, do that.
    if you cant carry it on and cant afford a hardcase take the neck off and ultra-wrap everything in bubblewrap, clothes, cardboard etc and put it in the hardest suitcase you own.
  3. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    Check out the Ishibashi website. From what I understand they have a chain of music stores in Japan.
  4. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Inactive Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    PSYCHOTIC is right on. However, I'd suggest taking the neck off, wrapping it up well and carrying it on, period. That would definitely fit in the overhead, or heaven forbid under the seat in front of you for the super long flight.

    When I'm travelling and have some time before gigs start, I pack my basses like this and just put them in a very hard suitcase with padding. Buying a flight certified, TSA compliant case, say an SKB, will run you $250-$300 dollars. Now, its worth it if you are a regular, high paid musician and travel by plane a lot, but it will cost you a fee for checking it. Merely disassembling your bass is much cheaper and a better alternative. In addition, not too many will know what it is, so you also don't risk having a baggage handler "lose" it for you.
  5. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars: Ulyate Pickups & StringJoy Commercial User

    Oct 4, 2008
    find out if the store will ship it home for you.
    i am sure they deal with american tourists, i would think that's a common inquiry.
  6. I've been traveling between NYC and Japan for more than 13 years. Most of the time, I've carried a bass with me. Some of the other replies about trying to carry it onboard are false. Maybe U. S. domestic flights but international flights? No way. I always check it in as checked luggage. Many airlines still allow you to check 2 bags free within a certain weight and size limit on international flights. One of my allowed checked bags is always my bass. I've used basic hard shell cases, just a gig bag and in the past few years my Sadowsky porta bag. Yes, I was taking a chance sometimes but so far, no problems. The porta bag is the best. Just remove the straps and you're good to go. The only other thing is when you arrive and go to the baggage claim, seek out an airline staff and ask if your bass will be coming on the belt or someone will carry out oversized luggage. This is usually the same as they do for golf club bags and so on. Finally, I've NEVER had to pay any extra charges or duties for my basses.

    Ochanamizu is truly a guitar Mecca and there are so many shops with so much great gear that I can be overwhelming. Take your time and enjoy the experience.
  7. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Inactive Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    Ah, then you truly have been blessed. I have had one bass stolen and one broken (and it was in a hard case) in my 30 years of travelling.

    Just last week I flew on an airline that now charges $45 for your carry on. Yes, for a carry on. You get one personal item, say a small briefcase, for free. Everything else is a charge. Many airlines are moving in this direction.

    I personally would not use a gig bag or lightweight case for flights. Just too much risk.

    In this case, where it seems the poster is going for what is a rare trip, I'd hate to have him buy something only available there only to find it destroyed or damaged after the flight home. Better safe then sorry in my book.
  8. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    When I didn't have a case for a Strat my parent's bought me while I was visiting them for a few weeks in FL, I took the neck off and threw the body in my carry on, and the neck in my suitcase.

    Although, that was a guitar, so it's a lot smaller than a bass. Just an idea, anyways. Then you don't have to purchase a hardcase for extra if the bass doesnt come with it.
  9. rust_preacher


    Dec 17, 2009
    I was visiting Tokyo in February. I had this in memory from 2006:


    Jaguar Basses were just out.


    By chance, I had found this area near Shibuya metro station:




    And, in Akihabara, there is Music Vox with a friendly tax-free policy (5 % off for tourists, bring your passport).


    Well, this time I did not buy anything but a couple of pedals. I did not go to the same stores in Shibuya, and I didn't find the Ishibashi in Shinjuku either, that I had visited before. Here's a teaser from Shibuya Ishibashi:


    Oh yes, they make Sadowskys there too:


    And Music Vox is still nicely equipped. If I had had the chance, I would have gotten my choice of a Japan 62 reissue Jazz.



    I hope you find what you need, and much more! I have taken basses in airplanes even in the hard case as carry on. Sometimes the airlines want you to call ahead to tell them you are bringing a large instrument. It should be no problem for you.
    timplog likes this.
  10. Looks like you're gonna have a great time OP. Enjoy yourself!! :hyper::hyper:
  11. I'm going to Japan in June and was wondering where to look for basses. This is great info! When you get back,
    please tell us how your trip went and how it went getting a bass back to the states.
  12. Darnell Jones

    Darnell Jones Inactive

    Aug 29, 2011
    Write (don't call) the airline in question and ask them. If you use their response print it and carry it with you.

    Also SKB makes hard cases for golf bags that fit a bass gig bag nicely. I'll bet you can find a used one in Tokyo cheap.
  13. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Ok, i got go to Japan.
  14. Good idea except for one thing:

    Tokyo and cheap is an oxymoron.
  15. mr.mow


    Feb 11, 2009
    Endorsing Artist: BBE/G&L Basses
    And just remember kids, when in guitar stores in Japan, don't just grab guitars down to have a fiddle.. Does NOT go down well :D

    The other side of that.. if you are finding it hard to get service.. just pickup the nearest guitar and start wailing away!!!

    While Ochonomizu is the most well known area, I'd also highly recommend a trip to Ikebekuro, bunch of stores just outside the station, plus a huge Ishibashi in the Loft dept store and just off the main street a few more stores.

    Otherwise, as other posters have shown, just across from the Shibuya bus station is a really nice bunch of shops.
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Put it in a hard case. If you're flying out of Tokyo, Japanese baggage handlers will handle your baggage, and unlike American baggage guys, they do their job extraordinarily well. I flew in and out of Japan 9 times while I lived there, and never once had a problem. (even on American flagged carriers)
  17. aqsw


    May 28, 2006
    I don't want to complain about the Dingwall. The Double bass, that's another issue. If you have a gig halfwayaround the world _ RENT
  18. Some great info so far guys, so thank you.

    Thank you to rust preacher for this fantastic photos!

    I think I ship it back in a hard case with me.

    I was looking at getting a danelectro longhorn, or another p bass.

    My 2 current fender are from ishibashi and they are awesome. Definitely going to see if I can get around there. There is one in Tokyo somewhere I think.

    Also, to those who have been to Japan, where are some good places to see a gig? Hoping to see some Japanese bands while in over there.
  19. sailri


    Nov 16, 2007
    Rhode Island
    Are there any customs charges when you bring it back in to the states?
  20. mr.mow


    Feb 11, 2009
    Endorsing Artist: BBE/G&L Basses
    Ishibashi, ikebe gakki and music land key are all over the place.
    I like ishibashi for online stuff but prefer ikebe for 'in store', if you're looking for a one stop shop, ochonamizu is the place, there are at least 4 ishibashi's there (yes..4), a big boss (great store), pan music and loads of smaller used stores.

    If you are short of time I'd suggest shibuya (if you're in Tokyo you will end up in shibuya!), there is a good sized ishibashi in the beam building (look up beam building on google maps, it's right in the middle of the main shibuya shopping area).

    But as you come out of the shibuya train station (this won't mean much till you get there, then you'll get it!), find the shibuya bus station, it's at the side of the train station, look across and you'll see a pedestrian bridge.. (just remember shibuya bus, bridge), there are a bunch of guitar shops over there.. An ikebe, music land, some used shops.