Luggage lockers are a convenient way to store your bags while you explore either before checking into your hotel, or after you’ve checked out but have plenty of free time before moving on. The Japanese call them coin lockers (koin rokka, コインロッカー）, and they’re usually found inside and around train stations. Some other public spaces also have them, specially where people are expected to do quite a bit of shopping, like the entrance to Doguyasuji in Osaka.
They come in several sizes (these sizes seem to be for JR stations):
- H326mm x W355 x D645mm, 300 yen, fits a small backpack
- H505mm x W355mm x D645mm, 500 yen, fits a medium suitcase
- H868mm x W355mm x D645mm, 700 yen, fits a big suitcase
Elsewhere, you may find lockers of different dimensions:
- H 320mm x W 330mm x H 570mm, 300 yen
- H 550mm x W 330mm x H 570mm, 400 yen
- H 1130mm x W 330mm x H570mm, 600 yen
Here are some tips for using coin lockers in Japan:
- Scope out the location, ideally before you need to use the lockers, and find alternatives in case the lockers in the area you want are all taken. We snap photos of a nearby shop or other easily found landmark nearby so we can easily find the lockers again — vital in a big station like Osaka.
- Access to the lockers is governed by the location’s business hours. Inside train stations that’s from 5:00 am to 12 midnight, while in malls that’s usually from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Lockers outside are accessible round the clock.
- Measure your luggage to see if it will fit. Since we didn’t have a ruler or measuring tape, we improvised by knotting a cord to the width of our biggest suitcase. If your luggage is too big, you can use luggage storage rooms in the train stations. You can put multiple pieces in one locker.
- Get there early. Coin lockers are in high demand, specially the bigger ones. On our last trip to Osaka we had our pick of lockers at the Nankai Namba station at 6:00 a.m., but my sister who went there at 9:00 a.m. found the big ones all taken.
- Have enough 100-yen coins ready. There are usually change machines nearby that can break a 1000 yen note, but not always.
- If you don’t have coins but you have an IC card, you can use that as well on IC-enabled lockers. You’ll recognize them by the ATM-like machine adjoining the lockers.
Locker rental is by the day, with the day ending at or shortly after midnight. If you leave your bags overnight that counts as two days, so you’ll have to pay again when you get your luggage. You can store your luggage in a locker a maximum of three days.
To use the coin lockers, insert the required coins, get the key when the locker opens, and put in your baggage. Take the keys on locking the door. Make sure you didn’t forget anything, as your rental is considered over when you open the locker again.
To use the lockers with electronic payment, find a vacant locker (green tab showing), open it and put in your bags, then lock it by pulling the tab. Then go to the payment screen, select the number of the locker, and select your method of payment. You can either touch your IC card to the reader, or insert a 1000 yen note (the machine gives change). If you paid with cash you’ll get a ticket for reclaiming your baggage, otherwise your IC card is your key.
If you have to use the train station luggage rooms instead of a locker, your access is limited by the facility’s business hours, which are usually from 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. The upside to this is luggage rooms can be cheaper, as they charge a flat rate per piece regardless of size.