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We will travel around Japan by train and will make a few shorter stops with only a nights stay so it would be handy to be able to drop the bags at the station while doing some sightseeing before checking to the hotel. Is this a "normal" feature of japanese train stations? Are storage facilities automated or manual and how much should we expect to pay for it?

luggage

(photo by Andrew Stawarz)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Here's a website that shows the different coin locker sizes.

enter image description here

The large size (117cm x 43cm x 57cm ) should be able to hold anything an airline will accept as regular checked baggage, but costs 500 yen. I remember using one of those at Ueno - you'll probably find them only at the major train stations.

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Note that the costs have gone up in the past five years. The large locker cost me ¥700/day during a recent visit to Kyoto. – RoboKaren Jul 4 at 2:59

Coin lockers are a feature of most stations in Japan. Depending on size and the station, lockers generally run for ¥200-300 JPY per day. Lockers are of a few different sizes, but aside from very major rail stations (e.g. Tokyo), I think most lockers will not be large enough to accommodate a large roller bag like those used for checked luggage on airlines.

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a good point about the bag size! – froderik Jan 27 '12 at 20:30

Kyoto, at least does, as described here: JR Kyoto Station. A Kyoto station map shows several coin lockers, but this document also describes a left-luggage office.

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I took this bag to Japan and stored it in coin lockers at train stations in both Akihabara and Shinjuku (both in Tokyo): 26 inch roller bag (Amazon link).

According to Amazon, this bag is 26 inches tall, 11 inches long, and 15 inches wide. (66cm x 28cm x 35cm).

I took a picture of it in a "large" sized locker. This one was at the Shinjuku station, but the ones at Akihabara were the same size.

I would have had room to put a smallish duffle bag on top of it, and there was also room left over on the side, but (it may be hard to tell from this picture) had my bag been packed any fuller and therefore had been even an inch fatter, I don't think it would have fit.

This bag was too large to be used as carry-on luggage on my flight and had to be checked, but it did fit (snugly) into the locker.

The large locker in Shinjuku was 500 yen for 12 hours. The one in Akihabara was (if I remember correctly) 800 yen for 24 hours.

You need 100 yen coins to use these lockers, so I made sure to save them when I received them as change (although I'm sure you could stop somewhere and ask for change). Insert your luggage, insert your coins, close the locker, and take your key. I assume you would have to insert more coins to free your locker if you stay over the allotted time, but I didn't test that theory!

Luggage in coin locker in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

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1  
Actually, the "24 hours" usually ends at midnight, no matter what time you started using the locker. After midnight, you'll need another day's charge (800 yen) to release the lock. For example, I've stored stuff from 8pm to 7am and paid two day's charge as a result. – Kent Jul 4 at 0:06

As stated, the lockers are often too small for big bags, but most major train stations have manned counters that can accept luggage of any shape or size. Ask around for nimotsu-azukari-dokoro (手荷物預かり所) or look for a "bag-with-key" icon on signs (not to confused with "bag-with-key-in-box", which means lockers).

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