This was my experience at Kansai Airport: once you leave the plane you will go down a hallway and eventually arrive at a light rail station. From there you will be ushered into the immigration area. This will take a while, you will have to stand in line for what seems like forever, this is a good time to recall whether or not you filled out your disembarkation card or not. The disembarkation card is the card the flight attendants will give you on the plane asking you what exactly you are doing in Japan and how much money you have on you, you are required to fill this out. When you get to the counter you will be asked for your passport and disembarkation card, he will then ask you a few questions, the first being whether or not you speak Japanese. From this point on you will go through customs, get your bag off the carousel and grab a cart if you need to. At this point you will be asked a few questions about what you are bringing into the country, meats and most vegetables are strictly prohibited, they are particularly uppity about American beef it seems. From this point on you will pass into the first level of the Kansai airport.

Getting Money Changed

On the first level there will be about four money-changers, whichever you choose is up to you. There will be a desk next to the money-changing kiosk with forms to convert from various foreign currencies to Yen. Fill in the pertinent information (they should have some in English) about where you are from and where you are going. At the lower right-hand corner there should be two check-boxes with a small space next to them, one is for travelers checks and the other is for cash. Try to get around 40,000 yen, the cost of your train tickets and shipping your bags can easily exceed 10,000, and you will need some cash to get around until you can find a post office to withdraw some money. (Yes I said post office).

Shipping Baggage

On the far right and left side of the first floor of the Kansai airport there will be companies that can ship bags for you, with Yamato Transport almost certainly being one of them. Since the trains can be very crowded at peak times, shipping large bags is generally a good idea. Keep in mind it can take up to three days for anything you ship to arrive at it's destination, so be sure to carry with you any medications you need, a change of clothes, and basic hygiene items. Shipping bags at the airport can be a confusing experience if you do not speak Japanese, however if you have the address of the school you can generally get by with the old point-and-grunt technique of international communication. The Yamato Transport web-site has good examples of their shipping labels, look under "Airport Takkyubin" for details on shipping bags from the airport. You might consider simply shipping the bags from America two or three days ahead of time using UPS or Fed Ex, though this will probably be more expensive than shipping it from the airport.