Letting Go of Your Baggage

Letting Go of Your Baggage

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!

4 Responses to “Letting Go of Your Baggage”

  1. gail rieke says:

    Oh NO!!! Not another entertaining informative armchair vicarious travel Japan website! Not another addiction! For those of us “Jonesing for a fix” (did you actually say that?) of Japan, this is terrific. You go Girl! I’ll happily read and dream.

  2. I am sure the takkubbin service works for some people, but there is a different point of view. If you have so much luggage (or bags that are too big) that you want to use a forwarding service, pack less! It is quite easy to travel extensively around the country (trains and buses) with one modest sized case. If you have several bags or a big case – downsize – it will make your trip more enjoyable.

    I would prefer to travel light and save $10 every time I changed location as these costs certainly mount up over many days :)

    • ebaran says:

      Hi Patrick – I see by your URL that you have a deeper knowledge of Japan than the casual reader, so of course you must realize that not all your custom travelers can easily travel with only what fits in a 22inch suitcase (what the international airlines now permit for non-checked bags). When a traveler is spending thousands of dollars to travel to Japan, is on a 10-14 day trip and going to at least four or five different destinations, a few dollars for shipping is a rounding error in their budget for the ease that baggage shipping provides. When we design itineraries we make sure that we optimize the baggage shipping, so, for instance, planning a one-night ryokan stay while your bags go on ahead to the next destination. The average traveler has one, or perhaps two shipments. The luxury of being able to ship a large bag ahead also allows people to pick-up all those wonderful remembrances along the way without having to try to fit them into their carry bag. Of course, for shorter stays or for travelers who are able to pack as you suggest, then there is no need to ship a single bag that can fit on the trains (just don’t try to get on the bus in Koyasan on a holiday weekend with that carry on!) Oh, and forgot to mention that not everyone is young enough or healthy enough to manage even a modest size bag, when filled, through many stations without escalators or stairs. I know I couldn’t even carry my carry-on up the 60 steps to the Uchiko station. So traveling light is DEFINITELY encouraged, but not everyone may be able to carry 14-days worth of items that efficiently and that’s when takyubbin is a godsend.

      • Fair points Elaine – I wish I could travel with a carry-on, and that I was young enough to not worry about it too much. However, I’m a bit older and like my luxuries. As a couple we travel with two trolley cases about 25x45x75 (10x18x30 inches) and normally about 20kg in each bag and we encourage our guests to limit their luggage to that amount as well (plus a small back-pack or day-bag. That is sufficient for as long as we need to travel including a six week trip from some years ago.
        There are occasions where it can be annoying – especially in some smaller train stations where elevators/escalators are not available.

        If we were making a long-distance transfer with a short detour, takyubbin can be a good option rather than hunting for coin-lockers :)

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