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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 4 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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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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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
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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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