Traveling in Japan (staying at AirBnB)


Claire Devries said: Jun 7, 2018
 34 posts

Dear group,

Since our son started our Suzuki Journey almost two years ago, we’ve been traveling extensively with his violin within the U.S. continent. We have no problem with airlines so far, we’ve always stayed at reputable hotel, and never more than a few nights at a time.

This summer, we’ll be traveling to Japan for almost three week (2.5 weeks) and we’ll stay at various AirBnB (i.e. local/private residence) the entire time we are there. I’m concerned about leaving the violin at our AirBnB, even though Japan is a very safe country (maybe relatively safer than the U.S.). We rent his violin and it comes with insurance, but in case it is lost, we are responsible still for half of the price (which is still significant). Someone mentioned to us the alternative of renting violin in Japan but we’ve never done so, and we’ll be visiting various cities (so logistically can be a challenge).

Second, we will be using railways in Japan (JR/Shinkansen, etc.) while I’ve researched extensively on their English-version website about traveling with instrument, are there anyone out there who can tell us their experience? v.s. forwarding the violin from city-to-city using luggage forwarding service?

All these questions made me think that Japan is probably “used” to having children traveling with violins all the time.. but just in case.

Any thoughts on this, apart from leaving it home for a long period of time (which is probably not an option)? Thanks.


P.S. Also for those who have been traveling abroad with their instruments, can you comment on the “Custom Declaration” form that you need to fill out (esp since instruments are considered valuables). Thanks.

Kelly Williamson said: Jun 7, 2018
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
304 posts

I will be very interested to see others’ replies. Here is one story from going to Matsumoto with my flute, the first time being in 2007. Mr Takahashi insisted that I use one of the bicycles at the Suzuki school to go back and forth between the school and my homestay… the bike had a basket on the front which would hold my flute case and handbag. (I have a backpack case as well, but they seemed to think I should put it in the basket.) I asked if that was safe. Mr Takahashi and the other gentleman who was in the office both roared with laughter. They asked, “What, do you think someone will run alongside and grab it out of the basket?”

Of course in some places, they definitely would! It’s a pretty valuable flute! But they felt it was out of the question. Also, you may know that in Japan people leave their bicycles, unlocked, outside of the grocery store, or wherever else they go to do errands. I did it myself with great trepidation, and was amazed to find that no one ever took my bicycle. There is definitely a different attitude towards security and theft. Maybe it is different in Tokyo—but I’m guessing not so much. My experience was that my fears were out of place when traveling in Japan. I carried my flute (on my back and with me in the seats) on the trains without worry.

Good luck—have a safe and wonderful journey!


Claire Devries said: Jun 7, 2018
 34 posts

Thank you, Kelly for sharing your insight & experience—that certainly is encouraging!

And yes, this is 2018, we will be traveling to all touristy places (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and a few others equally touristy), during the tourist season, and not Matsumoto. The AirBnB places we’ll be staying in, some we will share with other traveler (different rooms, but still..), some will be private apartment.


Danielle said: Jun 8, 2018
Danielle Dotson
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Violin
Madison, AL
15 posts

I wouldn’t worry about having it stolen at all. In fact, if you lose it or leave it somewhere, I’d be amazed if you didn’t get it back as soon as you went back for it—either because it was still there, or it would have been handed in to the local police box or to the train people.

The more serious problem, in my mind, is finding a time and place to practice that won’t disturb the people around you (neighbors too). Especially if you are in Air B&Bs. I’d advise getting a practice mute to take along.

Danielle Dotson

Claire Devries said: Jun 13, 2018
 34 posts

Danielle, thank you very much for your input on the mute. As I mentioned above, we had no problem so far bringing our violin/practice in various hotel rooms/AirBnB in the U.S. but I do wonder if anyone could hear us (if they could, we never knew because nobody complained). And if anything, if my son is able to actually bother someone, that means his “tuna tone” would have improved much—which is a good sign :-)

Thanks again for chiming in.

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