Coin lockers コインロッカー
The best way to travel light in Japan
In Japan, automatic lockers, called coin lockers, are everywhere and commonly used. Here's a short guide on how to use this Japanese service - it's very convenient to store your luggage during a trip!
There's a very useful service for travelers in Japan: coin lockers (コインロッカー). They are automated lockers that can be used to store things, anytime you want. They are most often used for storing luggage, but also used regularly by the Japanese while out shopping, to store their many purchases so they don't need to carry heavy bags around all day.
Where can you find them?
The reason these coin lockers are so practical is because they're found practically everywhere, are accessible at almost any time, and they aren't very expensive. If you need a locker, you'll definitely find them in railway stations and airports, but also usually in shopping malls, department stores, or near major tourist attractions, such as museums.
And don't worry, Japan being a very safe country, there are never any problems with these lockers and your luggage will be kept safe.
In Tokyo, the stations with the most coin lockers are Shinjuku (almost 3,600 of them!), Tokyo, Ueno, Ikebukuro and Shibuya. At peak hours, or during Golden Week, available lockers can be in short supply, especially in Tokyo Station and if you need a larger, suitcase-sized locker. If every locker is taken, don't despair and be patient: often you just have to wait a ten minutes or so for a locker to become available.
- Also read: Luggage delivery services in Japan
Why use a coin locker?
These lockers can be of great use during a trip to Japan, where you can end up travelling with quite a bit of luggage.
For example, if you check out of a hotel in the morning, with an onward journey (or flight home) planned for the evening, it's extremely convenient to be able to leave your bags somewhere during the day, letting you explore the city without being saddled with heavy luggage all day.
Similarly, if you go on a day trip somewhere, consider storing what you don't need to take with you in a locker.
Travelers wanting to experience a capsule hotel can also use these lockers to store their bags, this type of hotel having, by nature, very little space for storage. A final example - if like the Japanese, you've planned an afternoon of shopping and you find yourself weighed down with shopping bags, why not store them in a small locker somewhere while you continue shopping, or take a coffee break?
- Read more: Capsule Hotels
Types of coin locker
There are 4 sizes of lockers. They are all 57cm (22.4 in) deep.
The smaller ones, of so-called "Standard" size (標準), are the most common, and have a height and width of 34cm
"Medium" lockers (中) are 55cm high and 34cm wide
"Large" (大) lockers are 84cm high and 34 to 43cm wide
Finally, the "Extra-Large" lockers (特大), which are also the rarest, are 117cm high, and can sometimes be up to 177cm. Large and extra-wide lockers are the most convenient for storing suitcases and hiking bags.
When it comes to price, it's calculated by the day (from midnight to midnight), and ranges from 300 yen (for standard lockers) to 700 yen for the largest. So if you leave your luggage in a locker overnight and get it back the next day, you will have to pay for two days. Be aware that employees (including at stations) empty lockers after 3 days, which is the maximum amount of time you can use a locker. Check for signs telling you how long a locker can be used for - sometimes they are emptied every evening.
How to use a coin locker
Using a coin locker is a breeze. The price of the chosen locker will always be indicated on it. For the oldest coin lockers, simply place your belongings in it, insert the coins (only 100 yen coins) in the slot provided, close the door, and turn and remove the key, which you have to keep with you.
The more modern coin lockers work a little differently: everything is done via a touch screen situated in the middle of the lockers. The interface is available in English, so just follow the instructions.
Choose the "Deposit " option on the screen, then the locker number you want to use, put your luggage in, then close the door and wait for the light to change from green to red. Then return to the screen to pay, either in cash (coins and notes), or with a prepaid IC card (Suica or Pasmo in particular). If you paid in cash, the machine will issue a ticket with a PIN code for you to keep safe.
To collect your luggage, select "Retrieval" on the touch screen. Depending on the payment method you used, you will need to either enter the PIN code you were previously given (in case of cash payment), or just place your IC card on the card reader. Your locker will then open automatically, and you're done.