The Best Luggage for Japan

best luggage for japan travel

Japan is renowned for its efficient travel system, including the ultra-fast shinkansen (bullet trains) and reliable overnight luggage delivery services. In order to make the most of these services, it’s essential to choose the right kind of luggage. Here, we will provide you with all the details you need to know.

The Takeaway

When it comes to traveling in Japan, there are a few key takeaways regarding luggage:

  • Limited space on shinkansen: The bullet trains have limited room for luggage, with overhead racks that can only accommodate small bags.
  • Convenient luggage delivery services: Japan offers excellent, cheap, and reliable overnight luggage shipping services, allowing you to ship your bags from the airport to your hotel or from hotel to hotel.
  • Two-piece luggage system: To fully utilize these services, you’ll need a two-piece luggage system consisting of a day bag and a wheelie suitcase or backpack.

Whatever You Do, Travel Light!

Unless you have specific activities in mind that require specialized gear, such as rock climbing, skiing, or diving, there’s no need to bring excessive baggage to Japan. Packing three or four days’ worth of clothes should suffice, especially if you plan to stay in hotels with laundry facilities. While it’s important to dress appropriately, smart casual wear is generally acceptable even in nicer restaurants. Additionally, except for northern Honshu and Hokkaido, winters in Japan are not extremely cold, so you can leave behind bulky winter clothing. And if you do happen to forget something, rest assured that you can easily purchase it in Japan. Uniqlo, for example, offers affordable and stylish clothing, including outerwear. So, there’s no need for a cumbersome suitcase!

Shinkansen Have Very Limited Luggage Space

For most long-distance travels within Japan, the shinkansen is the preferred mode of transportation. These bullet trains are known for their speed, comfort, and punctuality. However, it’s important to note that they have limited space for luggage. The overhead racks above the seats can only accommodate bags similar in size to those fitting in an airplane’s overhead compartment. Although there is a bit more space behind the last row of seats in each car, accessing this space requires purchasing a special ticket for all reserved cars. In unreserved cars, you don’t need such a ticket, but the available space gets filled quickly. Understanding these limitations will prevent any last-minute surprises during your train journey.

Japan’s Awesome Overnight Luggage Delivery Services

Yamato Kyubin truck, Japan’s largest luggage delivery service. Editorial credit: NP27 /

One of Japan’s most impressive features is its network of luggage delivery systems. These services allow you to effortlessly ship your luggage within the main islands of Japan, usually overnight, for an affordable fee of around US$20 per standard suitcase. Many travelers take advantage of this system by arranging for their bags to be shipped from the airport to their first hotel upon arrival. Subsequently, they utilize the service to transport their belongings from one hotel to another. The reliability of these services is exceptional, with no reports of damaged, lost, or delayed baggage. Most hotels have designated front desks that handle all the necessary paperwork, but you can also ship your items yourself from convenience stores or pick them up at a convenient location. To learn more about this convenient service, refer to our article titled “Luggage Shipping: The Smart Way to Travel in Japan.”

You Need a Two-Piece Luggage System in Japan

To fully enjoy the benefits of Japan’s shinkansen and luggage delivery system, it’s important to opt for a two-piece luggage system. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Day Bag

A small and lightweight bag is essential for your daily travels within cities and when boarding the shinkansen. This bag should be able to store important items, such as travel documents, chargers, medicine, your phone, and even a laptop if you’re bringing one. Additionally, it should be comfortable to carry and suitable for sightseeing activities. The Kingsons Laptop Backpack is a highly recommended choice, as it combines functionality with a stylish appearance. This versatile backpack is not only suitable for business meetings but can also be used for hiking adventures. Surprisingly, it is available for just $50 on Amazon.

Kingsons laptop bag

2. Small Suitcase or Wheelie Bag

Your second piece of luggage should be a small suitcase or wheelie bag with a capacity of approximately 40 to 60 liters. It’s important to choose a size that can fit into the overhead bin of an airplane. Opting for a bag with retractable straps allows for easy conversion into a backpack, which can be particularly useful during longer walks to train stations or hotels. When selecting a bag, consider the following features:

  • Sturdy straps: Ensure the straps are securely attached to the bag, as loosely attached straps may tear off.
  • Durable rubber wheels: Look for rubber wheels with strong mountings that can withstand various surfaces. Avoid bags with plastic wheels, as they tend to break within a year of use.
  • Simplicity: Choose a bag with a simple design and minimal additional features, such as extra pockets, zippers, and compartments. These additional components add unnecessary weight to your luggage. Instead, you can use stuff sacks or cubes within the main compartment to keep your belongings organized.

More Information

For additional information and tips on traveling in Japan, refer to the following articles:

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