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A handy guide to sending your luggage to the airport in Japan

I’m taking a bit of a break from my typical content to hopefully help some English-speaking folks with their travels in Japan. Note that I cannot take responsibility if this guide doesn’t work for you, if you lose your luggage doing this, or if the content in this post becomes out of date. It worked for me, but use it at your own discretion and risk.

Traveling in Japan is awesome. The sights, the smells, the food, the stuff— all of it.

But if you’re like me, you start to accumulate little things along the way, and if you’re really like me, you end up buying yourself a whole new suitcase to take your new trinkets home.

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Too many snacks. | Image credit: Sara B. via Flickr

I personally hate being sweaty and gross traveling on trains and subways with way too much luggage in-hand. Thankfully, Japan is nicely set up for hands-free travel. You can still be a hoarder, bring gifts home to people, and not have to compromise with lugging heavy suitcases up and down crowded stairs and subways.

Ship your dang luggage for pickup at the airport! Go hands-free!
It’s easy.

As of time of writing, this guide works for:

  • Narita Airport Terminal 1
  • Narita Airport Terminal 2
  • Haneda Airport (International terminal)
  • Kansai Airport

Check this site for more info.

Introducing Yamato Transport

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Image credit: halfrain via Flickr

This is the logo for Kuroneko Yamato AKA Yamato Transit (fun fact: Kuroneko means ‘black cat’).

Yamato is a regional courier service. In all of my travels in Japan, their services have been available. There might be some exceptions, but I have yet to encounter any.

They will be our shipping provider.

How to do it

  1. Pack your luggage up nicely, the way you would to check it into a flight
  2. Take it to the nearest 7-Eleven or Family Mart convenience stores (note: Yamato does not partner with Lawson’s at this time)
  3. Ask for a waybill from Yamato (if you’re nervous about language barrier, pointing at your luggage and saying “Yamato o-nee-guy-shi-mas” should get you what you need)
  4. Fill out the waybill they give you (more on this in a second) and hand it to the person behind the counter. They might measure and weigh your luggage. You pay them based on the dimensions, weight, and destination. It cost me about 2,500 JPY, or ~$23 USD.
  5. Donezo!
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7-Eleven—my home away from home | Image credit: Toshihiro Gamo via Flickr

The dreaded waybill

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I got stuck trying to figure out what the address is for the freaking airport. I called and called, with a heavy suitcase late at night. And I got it wrong. But Yamato sorted me out. Here’s the right way to fill out a Yamato waybill going to the airport (There’s a completed example below, for your reference)

Receiver's Address

Phone number: Nothing

First line: Airport name and terminal of departing flight

Second/Third Line: Flight number, Date, and Time

Receiver's name: Your name, as it appears on your ID

From address

Other details

Yamato kindly stores your luggage for delivery on specific days, up to ~5 days in advance. I would suggest making this the day before your flight, to be safe. So if you were flying on August 14 for example, it would look like ‘8月 13日’.

Please don’t write this in yourself — ask the store clerk at the convenience store for help with this.

There are also a few other things to fill out with the store clerk. I’ve indicated them on the completed waybill, but they’re basically specifying the date of your flight, and your method of shipment. I’ve indicated these items in blue below. Your store clerk will also add measurements and weight, as well as time of delivery. Don’t be nervous if they bust out a scale and tape measure!

A completed waybill

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When you’re done, your store clerk will give you a copy of your waybill. Do not lose this. It’s your method of pickup, so have it handy.

Tracking your luggage

Picking up

Final notes and potential pitfalls

Timing

Hours of operation

Contacting Yamato

Good luck and enjoy your Japanese travels!

Find me on Medium, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

I am a user experience designer from New York. I grew up in Toronto. I’m also the co-founder of SIBlings, a group of designers and developers that design and bring crazy ideas to life. We’re the co-creators of Emoji Salad, an emoji Pictionary SMS game that makes friends out of enemies and enemies out of friends.

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Designer. New York based, Toronto raised.

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