Luggage Delivery Services In Japan: Is It Worth Shipping Your Suitcases To Your Next Destination Instead Of Lugging Them Around With You?
Is it really more convenient, and are they reliable? We ask folks who’ve tried these service on recent trips to Japan.
If you’re travelling around Japan, especially by train, you’ll know what a hassle it can be to lug suitcases around on crowded stations or to find space on the shinkansen to store your bulky baggage. Hauling a 25kg suitcase up and down the stairs at stations without lifts or escalators? That’s a workout in itself.
One person who knows this all too well is content creator Royce Lee, who documented his luggage woes in Japan recently.
No wonder travellers have been shipping their luggage if they're travelling to more than one place in Japan. Known as ‘takkyubin’, these luggage courier companies will ship your luggage from city to city, hotel to hotel, or even between airports and hotels. Besides being able to travel light and making your travels around Japan more fuss-free, you could even squeeze in a few more hours of sightseeing.
And for some parents travelling with young children, these luggage delivery services are a godsend. 8Days spoke to some parents who’d booked luggage delivery services several times during their recent Japan trips.
Mrs S Lee, 40, recently visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka with her young kids, and engaged the services of a Japan luggage delivery company five times on the trip. “We were travelling with young children and travelling to a few places within Japan via train. We decided it would be more manageable and less stressful to have our bigger suitcases delivered to the next destination, so we would only need to manage a small cabin luggage, our stroller and children on the trains,” she told 8Days.
To ship their two medium-sized suitcases, it cost a total of over $40 each time. It took about one day for the suitcases to arrive at their next destination. “We went to the hotel concierge each time to drop our luggage off by 10am the day before we wanted it delivered to the next destination,” Mrs Lee elaborated.
For others who may be switching hotels during their trip, sending your luggage to the next hotel means you don’t have to worry about varying check-in and check-out times. Without the hassle of luggage logistics, you free up more time for sightseeing as well. That was what Liz, 40, did on her recent trip to Tokyo and Osaka with her husband and two kids.
“We had a few hours to kill between our check-out time at the first hotel and check in time at the new hotel, and wanted to do some sightseeing and shopping without lugging our luggages around,” she said. They'd also used a luggage delivery service on another occasion on the same trip between Tokyo and Osaka. Their two mid-sized suitcases (pictured below) were shipped with Yamato Transport as well as Airporter Japan, both recommended by the hotels that the family was staying at, and it cost over $20 per mid-sized luggage per trip.
What to pack — and what not to pack — when you ship your luggage
Most travellers who courier their luggage to their next destination would pack an overnighter bag or a cabin luggage for their essentials, depending on how long delivery would take. For Mrs Lee and family, they had strollers and a cabin luggage of essentials with them, while everything else — mainly clothing — were left in the suitcases for delivery.
Liz, whose luggage also mainly contained clothes and shopping, put a couple of tracking devices in the suitcases as an added precaution. These nifty tracking devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag that Liz used, and the popular Apple AirTag) let you track the location of your belongings via GPS or Bluetooth with a tap of your phone from wherever you are, giving you a peace of mind.
Would they use luggage delivery services in Japan again? “Yes, if we’re travelling with our children, because we found the experience to be convenient and reliable,” said Mrs Lee.
“I’d definitely use it again if I’m moving hotels, and especially if I’m taking trains around Japan,” said Liz. “It saves a lot of the hassle of lugging the bags around and finding space to store in restaurants and shops.”
Luggage delivery services in Japan: What to know before you go
Where to book: There are several companies that offer these luggage forwarding services all around Japan, including intercity travel. Two popular ones are Airporter Japan (prices from 500 yen or S$4.60 for a small bag) and Yamato Transport (from 935 yen or S$8.64).
If you’re looking for luggage delivery only between airports and hotels, Klook also offers luggage forwarding services between Tokyo hotels and airports via Airporter Japan (prices from $28.55). Japan Airlines also transports luggage between airports and hotels in Tokyo and Osaka (prices from 2,410 yen or S$22.30).
How to book: Book online or get the hotel concierge to help. Most hotels can help make arrangements for delivery, and will also receive your suitcases for you. Not staying in hotels? Courier companies like Yamato have kiosks in train stations and convenience stores like 7-Eleven where you can arrange for delivery and even store your luggage, saving you the trouble of looking for a luggage locker at train stations.
Delivery times: In general, intercity delivery takes one day, and same-day delivery is available within Tokyo. However, if you’re shipping to destinations further out, like Hokkaido or Okinawa, it might take two days.