Gone are the days when we had no choice but to squeeze in the Yamanote line with multiple luggage, getting discreet but annoyed stares from locals.

How to avail of the luggage delivery service

The convenience starts at the airport. “Imagine what it would be like to first send off your luggage and then enjoy sightseeing, restaurants, and shopping directly from the airport,” states the country’s flagship airline, Japan Airlines.

If you’re at the airport, you can bring your luggage directly to a JAL ABC counter located in the arrivals lobby and fill out a delivery form. Your luggage will then be sent to your destination, whether a hotel, inn, etc., on the specified date you indicated. The other options mentioned above might have a different form but follow the same procedure, more or less.

Information needed for sending from the airport

The information needed is pretty straightforward: the zip code, delivery address (including the building or condominium name, if needed), telephone number of the destination, and the name of the person picking up the luggage. If you don’t know the zip code or other details of your accommodation, the counter staff will help you look it up.

Delivery charges

Now, let’s talk fees. The delivery rate depends on the size (sum of height, width, and depth) and the weight of the luggage. Note that the maximum total size per luggage is 240cm, while the maximum weight is 50 kg. Meanwhile, the limit is 140cm for golf bags and 160cm for skis and snowboards.

The rate also depends on the destination. If coming from Narita Airport, size 140 luggage sent to Kanto region is ¥2,190 and goes up to ¥7,000 for size 240 luggage.

More details on JAL ABC’s rates here.

Prohibited items

Although the service is quite convenient, some items are not permitted to be delivered, namely, fragile items, fresh produce, dangerous items or explosive materials, luggage that contains liquids like alcohol and condiments, precision equipment, items that haven’t been properly sealed, musical equipment and paintings or works of art. Furthermore, items already restricted for transport on aircrafts, like high-pressure gas containers and flammable items, will not be accepted.

Other companies with luggage delivery service

Although JAL ABC is considered the cheapest luggage delivery option, Japan’s top courier providers, Sagawa and Yamato, also offer the same service. However, JAL ABC only accepts same-day delivery between Haneda Airport and select hotels in the Tokyo Bay area if you leave your luggage before 2 pm. So expect to receive your luggage the following day from arrival and onwards.

For Sagawa, they describe the service as “Sightseeing without baggage.” Whether it’s temporary baggage storage service, same-day hotel delivery, airport receiving service, regular delivery service, or even a special setup for tourists to go cycling at Shimanami Kaido without baggage, the courier has got you covered. Sagawa charges ¥2,220 for size 160cm luggage less than 30 kg.

Yamato Transport also has its own partnership with destinations at Kamakura and Yokohama, so it’s advised to check in advance if a certain perk matches your itinerary so you can get more benefits from the package. Yamato charges ¥3,720 for size 200 luggage less than 30 kg.

Sending luggage to the airport

When you’re done with your trip and somehow end up with more items than when you arrived (gotta get everyone some souvenirs, right?), you might consider using the same service, this time sending your luggage to the airport. You can call the English hotlines of Japan Post (they use the same service as JAL ABC, and the luggage ends up at JAL ABC counters), Sagawa, or Yamato at least two or three days before your departure date. Someone will come to pick up the luggage you’re sending and will give you a form on where to pick it up. Once at the airport, you simply show your form and some form of identification (if needed) to claim your luggage.

Is luggage delivery service worth it, given you need to pay and prepare extra? The service becomes invaluable if you will be traveling across the country with multiple luggage and going through many train or transportation transfers. Although most of Japan’s stations are equipped with elevators, working your way through Tokyo’s railway platforms during rush hour with bulky suitcases can be a headache. Should the pros outweigh the extra fees, give any of the courier companies a call for luggage delivery service.