Put away your luggage or backpack and explore Japan like a native. In addition to making your life easier, you won't inconvenience locals on public transportation. It's win-win!
In our first test of hands-free travel options in Japan, we checked-out the H.I.S. tourist information centers located in various tourist-centric areas, but those are primarily for storing baggage for a few hours or even a few days while you go off to travel elsewhere.
What’s often overlooked in Japan is that we’re blessed with the best logistics companies in the world. You can walk into any convenience store and ship a package, golf clubs, skis, suitcases (or anything else really) anywhere in Japan for quite reasonable rates, and get same-day or next day delivery most of the time. The only problem is that it can be hard to understand how to use these services.
Now you have options with Yamato Transport, Japan’s most well-known private shipper, that is now focusing on becoming tourist friendly and opening up strategic shipping and storage spots so you can travel Japan without hassle. Right outside of the Marunouchi North exit at Tokyo station is one of their drop off/storage points, so we went to check out the system, see how it works, and ship a bag of our own across town.
Inside the JR East Travel Service Center they offer three key services for travelers who have too many bags or aren’t able to handle them from place to place.
If you want to store baggage beyond a single day there are some other options for you, but if you just want to relieve yourself of your baggage and do some sightseeing you can drop off just about anything for 600 yen per piece per day. They’re open from 7:30am to 8:30pm, so that’s a pretty decent window for going around the area, and not a bad deal at all. Ideal for bags that won’t fit into lockers especially. Just be sure not to miss the closing time!
I didn’t even know this existed, but for just 1,500 yen you can have up to three bags hand-delivered to your shinkansen gate or various bus stops in the area. Not sure how many people use this sort of service, but we can imagine that people with kids and older travelers would prefer not to have to drag a lot of stuff through the station on the way to their next train.
This is where Yamato Transport steps in and provides real convenience. You can get SAME DAY delivery within Tokyo for anything you ship from this spot as long as you send it before noon. It’s hard to explain how convenient this is, but imagine getting off of the Shinkansen from Kyoto or the NEX train from Narita, sending everything to your hotel in Shinjuku, and then just going off to enjoy the day. When you finally get to your hotel in Shinjuku to check-in all of your bags will be there by 5pm!
That’s just for shipping within Tokyo, but you can send nearly anything anywhere else in the country, most often with next-day delivery. Going skiing? Just send your skis or snowboard to your hotel in Nagano when you arrive, and then it’ll be waiting for you when you finally get there.
Have a suitcase full of souvenirs you don’t want to keep lugging around? Just send it to your departing airport and pick it up before your flight.
While you can do any of these things at just about any convenience store, at this particular station they’ll help you to fill out the forms and expedite the process.
It’s all pretty straight-forward. They’ll take your bag, measure it if it’s an odd size (shipping cost is based on size and weight), and get the form filled-out and ready. As far as cost, you can probably expect to pay between 1,000 ~ 2,000 yen per bag, which isn’t bad at all. Even when we travel through Japan ourselves we tend to ship bags to our hotel just so we don’t have to carry them around, and it’s always worth it.