How come you never see people schlepping their luggage on the train in Japan? Well, most gaijin have no idea that the Japanese do not take their luggage with them, but ship it ahead via the amazing “takyubbin” system. Takyubbin is used for package and baggage shipping throughout Japan. You can use it to have your purchases delivered from the great little boutique you found to your hotel so you don’t have to carry them all day. You can use it to have an unwieldy bag sent ahead to the airport. And you can use it throughout your trip to Japan to have your luggage shipped ahead and carry only a small bag or backpack with you on the trains and subways.
To send a takyubbin from any hotel is fairly easy, as long as you have the address where it is going in Japanese. You ask the folks at the desk to send the package, they fill out a multi-part form and look up the fee (usually about $10 or so), they collect the money and give you a receipt for the bag, and, presto, you’re on your way. When you get to your next hotel, your bag is usually sitting IN YOUR ROOM! waiting for you. How easy is that?
The odd part is that Americans, as a rule, prefer to schlep all their STUFF (which the Japanese call “stuffo”) with them. It’s so funny to see them, attached to their really large suitcases as if handcuffed to their jailer, trying to drag their overstuffed bags up the stairs at out-of-the-way train stations or onto cable-cars clearly not intended for 42″ suitcases. Give yourself a break when traveling to Japan – pack light AND ship ahead. This is a first-world, developed country. You can get anything you need anywhere. Be free. Let go of your baggage!