A gentleman asks about shipping a four-wheel-drive car to Namibia on the southwest coast of Africa. The most appealing way would be to ship it first to Cape Town and then drive it to Namibia. I remember a visit to Cape Town a number of years ago, where a former Tokyo resident told me of the elephants who, roaming through the countryside, occasionally paused to have a good back rub against a house, creating an earthquake-like rumble and shake. On the way, he could visit the legendary Cape of Good Hope and imagine sailing ships fighting storms as they struggled to round the southernmost tip of Africa. On his drive to Namibia he would pass near fabulous diamond mines but he would not see them since they are tightly secured. Certainly an interesting trip, but the efficient way is to ship it to Walvis Bay in Namibia. He can choose either a shipping agent who will handle the arrangements directly with the shipping company or an international moving company for door-to-door service. He has the necessary information to make a choice.

I asked why he was shipping a car to Namibia. It’s for the elephants and black rhinos, he said. There is so much poaching and the rangers there need such vehicles to get around. Cheers for another person doing what he can to help where he sees a need.

Most people who ask about moving want to save money. If that isn’t a problem, you simply call one of the major international movers and let them do everything for you. Of course, it is never that easy. You must inventory your goods, photograph valuable pieces, check your insurance policies and see that boxes are properly labeled. But other than that. . . .

Even though Japan is known as one of the world’s most expensive places to live, it is almost always possible to find ways to reduce charges that you cannot afford. This can involve doing some of the work yourself and using a shipper like Econoship that helps people save money on moves through consolidation, or combining shipments in one container. A family of four with a large residence will generally need 40 cubic meters of space or more, enough to fill a container. An individual will likely have less than five, and combining shipments allows the client to pay only for the space his own shipment occupies. They will pack for you or you can do your own and save more. For information, call 0120-222-111.

One woman recommends the post office. She packed everything herself in the largest size cartons they will accept and shipped them sea mail to her new address. Although postage rates can seem excessive, she compared costs for small shipments and felt she had saved money. The post office also has book bags at major post offices that allow a better rate for books. It is difficult to ship a bag of books without some damage but if you tie them together they are more likely to go through OK. The post office has an English-language service that can help with details: (03) 5472-5851/2.

Years ago many people packed their goods in tea boxes and delivered them directly to shipping companies for less expensive moves. Now tea boxes are difficult to find and such companies rarely deal with individuals, preferring to work through agents. Today’s transport is mostly by large container ships with minimum crews, and it is not cost effective to handle small, individual shipments. There will be an exception if you yourself travel by ship and then you can usually bring along your goods though you may require an agent to handle the necessary customs requirements. There will be both export and import regulations and inspections so don’t look on this as an easy solution, but depending on the size of the shipment you could save money.

Two companies have been suggested as being “more reasonable,” so you can call them for estimates: Japan Luggage Express, 0120-48-0081 and International Moving, (03) 3777-3449. Since most people like to have several estimates before deciding, you may want to consider one of these. The more you pack yourself, the more reasonable the fee, and smaller companies can offer savings on shipments that large companies will not want to handle.

It is sad that so often people must dispose of things they have come to love because they can’t afford to send them home.

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