Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bullet train luggage question

I%26#39;ve heard and read luggage space on these trains is very small and limted. I%26#39;ll be in Japan for ten days(April 24- may 5) and will be traveling with large suitcases. Also know this is a busy travel time. So what are my options for getting my very large bags to Tokyo from Osaka. Can I sit with them next to me, in front of me? Comfort for me is not an issue, just want to be respectful to the people around me.

Bullet train luggage question

You will fit the largest (70cm +) luggage behind the rear seats. I find it helps if you reserve the back seats and board the train early.

Bullet train luggage question

Send them ahead via takuhaibin (luggage forwarding service.) Your hotel can arrange this for you. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html

At the platform, ask the railroad personnel for help to figure out where to stand to be at the right place to get into your reserved car. (You may have to point to the car number on your seat reservation card.) Use the space at the rear of the car for your luggage. If that space is full, take your bags to the next car. Nobody will steal them; this is Japan! There is plenty of leg room, and you could fit both your legs and a small suitcase in the space in front of your seat. Worst case, you might be able to stand with your luggage in the area near the train doors, as long as you don%26#39;t block the active doors. If you can, try to substitute slightly smaller suitcases for your very large suitcases. Every smaller step in size makes them much much easier to fit on the train.

Your big problem won%26#39;t be fitting the suitcases on the train; it will be lugging them up and down stairs! At most major stations, there are escalators and elevators, but they%26#39;re often way at the end of the platform and not always easy to find. And some exits have nothing but stairs.

If your budget allows, travel first class. There are always fewer people in this car. There is actually a lot of space but not during the week you%26#39;ve chosen. Fortunately, you have just one stop to worry about how to get it out and Tokyo will be a long stop. I think the locals are used to seeing Westerners traveling heavy.


I don%26#39;t think you would have a problem traveling regular class and finding luggage space at the end of the row. Most of the time it is available, and it can indeed hold most large suitcases. You can usually fit two behind each side, so four altogether.

Refer to this thread below for more on this topic:


Just to reinforce Dave148%26#39;s advice to send large bags from place to place. On my first trip to Japan more than 20 years ago I struggled with large suitcases through the large crowds on escalators, stairs and trains and couldn%26#39;t understand why no one else carried these. Since then I have used the luggage forwarding service at least a hundred times. It always works and the freedom of travelling with only a small overnight bag is a fantastic liberation.

Takuhaibin is quite costly though if you use it throughout the trip so keep that in mind.



According to Japan-Guide.com, “In 2009, the weekends are placed in a way to create a holiday of five consecutive days as shown below. Travel activity is anticipated to peak on May 2 with people leaving the large urban centers and on May 6 in the opposite direction. Heavy traffic can also be expected on April 29 and May 5.” See


If possible, please avoid traveling from Tokyo to Osaka on Apr. 29/May 2-3 AND from Osaka to Tokyo on May 5-6. If you need to travel between Tokyo and Osaka during the Golden Week WITHOUT a reserved seat, you may send your large suitcases by Takkyubin as Dave148 suggested because a train may be 100-150% full.

btw it%26#39;s called takyuubin in japanese.

sorry just realised i might have sounded rude-- i meant to say it%26#39;s *also* called takyuubin in japanese, perhaps more commonly than the other word.

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