Getting around Japan with bags can be exhausting, especially while trying to do a last-minute shop on crowded narrow streets. But it’s actually possible to travel around Japan light-weight and stress-free, taking advantage of a range of “hands-free travel” services.
To kick off our tests of these hands-free services around Tokyo, we started at H.I.S., one of Japan’s largest travel agencies. They have a baggage storage service in seven of their Tourist Information Centers and branch offices (designated with an “i”) in Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza, and Ueno. They will store your baggage (including shopping bags) from 500~1,000 yen depending on the baggage dimensions and shop location. The service is perfect for travellers with oversized luggage, or if the coin lockers in the train station are full.
We dropped by their Ueno branch just around the corner from Ameyoko, which features a ninja climbing up the facade protecting your stuff inside!
There were only a few customers when we arrived at 10:30, and we were greeted by an English-speaking staff member who said that storing my large suitcase (71 cm x 53 cm x 33 cm) would cost 1000 yen per day. The checking in process was easy-going and quick, as all we had to do was write down our personal details and a pick up time, pay, and get a tag for the luggage.
The H.I.S. branch in Ueno is about five minutes from the station, and with the Keisei Skyliner trains going to and from Narita Airport it’s ideal for travelers itching to get out and explore, but arriving too early for hotel or Airbnb check-ins. It would also be a practical option for tourists who have already checked out and are waiting to fly out in the evening, but would like to do some last minute shopping in Ueno before jumping on the train to the airport. You can also just use the service to store shopping bags you don’t want to lug around with you all day.
The only drawback is that you can only pick up and drop off luggage during opening hours, which can be quite limited depending on the location, with the Ueno office open from 11am until 7pm. If you’re late to pick up your bags, you’ll need to come back and get them the next day.