Japan gives you the opportunity to travel light while exploring the beautiful country. All minor and major JR stations, subway stations as well as some major bus stations throughout Japan have coin lockers that can store luggage – from handbags and day rucksacks to large backpacks and suitcases – for a max. of 3-4 calendar days.
Depending on the size of your baggage, you can choose from small (13″ x 16″ x 22″), medium (22″ x 16″ x 22″), and large (44″ x 16″ x 22″) coin-operated lockers. Small coin lockers, priced at 300 yen, are most common and found in virtually all stations while the medium (prices range from 400-500 yen) and large ones (ranging from 500-800 yen) are available in small numbers at major stations.
It is very easy to operate a coin locker without any assistance. There are two different types of coin lockers you’ll find in Japan – the key-type and the touchscreen-type.
How to operate a key-type locker?
There are price stickers and locker number labels on the door and the key of each locker. Just open a locker of desired size, put your belongings inside, and close the door. Insert as many 100 yen coins (no other denomination is allowed) into the slot next to the door as shown on the price sticker. Then turn the key to the left and pull it out. Voila, your luggage is secure! Remember to keep the key in a safe place so that you can use it to take out your belongings later.
Also note that the amount you pay initially is for a single calendar day. If you return for your luggage after that duration, you will have to insert the appropriate amount to open your locker.
Usually you’ll find money change machines next to coin lockers that will help you get small change of 100 yen coins. However, these machines only accept 500 yen coins and 1000 yen bills.
Tip: If you need change and don’t find any money change machine in the locker room, you can get your change from nearby vending machines by buying a drink.
Touchscreen type locker
The advantage of a touchscreen-type locker is that its availability can be checked via internet or IC card apps. The lockers usually accept 500 yen coins and 1000 yen bills, but you can also use your IC card (prepaid smartcard such as ICOCA, Kitaca, nimoca, SUGOCA, and TOICA) to operate them.
As the name suggests, the locker can be locked and unlocked using a touchscreen. Just choose your desired language, press the ‘deposit’ button on the screen and keep you luggage in one of the empty lockers displayed on the screen. Then close the locker door and hold it shut until a small lamp on the locker door begins to flash. When this happens, pay by cash or touch the card reader with your IC card and collect the receipt. The receipt will have a PIN number if you pay by cash. Keep the receipt with you safely as it has location of the locker and contact information of the operating company printed on it.
When you wish to collect your belongings, simply press the ‘retrieval’ button on the touchscreen and choose your mode of payment (whether you paid by cash or IC card). If you choose cash, you will be prompted to type your PIN number given on the receipt. Once you do so, the locker door will open automatically. Alternatively, if you have paid using IC card, touch the card reader with your IC card (as you did while depositing your luggage) to open the door.
Similar to key-type locker, if you exceed the storage time limit, you will be prompted to pay the balance amount before the door opens. In case of cash payment you can pay the extra charge after typing the PIN number, whereas in case of card payment, the amount gets deducted automatically when you touch the card reader.