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Japan: Can I take my luggage on a bullet train?

Japan: Can I take my luggage on a bullet train?

Apr 2nd, 2004, 04:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 348
Japan: Can I take my luggage on a bullet train?

I have just been told that we can take our luggage on a bullet train in Japan...but everything I've read says that there is really very, very little room for luggage on JR trains. Please help clarify this for me.
JuneAnn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 04:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 574
Bonjour JuneAnn,

Of course, you can take luggage. There are baggage compartments at the end of cars that can accomodate quite large bags. I have been carrying my sport equipment all around Japan without problems, except that

1. on a crowded day, baggage compartments at the end of cars tend to be full

2. there is not much space for large bags inside the train, and overhead compartments are obviously designed for businesspersons and daytrippers

3. in a crowded station with lots of stairs, hauling huge bags is no pleasure, and

4. if you have to use mass transportation inside Tokyo at rush hour with your bags, be ready to be obviously loathed by a few thousand commuters ;-)

All those reasons are why most experienced travellers who can afford it have opted for sending their bags in advance via "takkyubin", for example:

"Delivery Services Kuroneko
It is the company which is managing delivery of a load, delivery, etc."

Florence is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 06:53 AM
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Thanks so very much Florence. We want to travel independently in Japan (as we do in Europe) but we've been concerned about logistics. We usually rent a car and we would not do that in Japan but rather hope to travel by train.
Thanks again, June
JuneAnn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 07:59 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 556
We were a family of 4 with way too much luggage. Everyone is right about packing light because of the many stairs in train and metro stations.

However, the bullet train was a pleasant surprise. Best to arrive early and tuck you big pieces behind the seats at the end of each car. But even if you cannot, there is plenty of room above your seat and, worst case, there is lots of leg room to keep your bag with you. Much more leg room than on an airplane and no restrictions about keeping it with you. Not to worry. The JR Shinkansen was delightful experience. You can even buy bento boxes and snacks from the attendants who pass through.
LeslieC is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 12:36 PM
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I keep hand luggage to a minimum whenever I travel on trains in Japan. Far less hassle that way and send main bags ahead by Takkyubin or straight to departing airport.
Alec is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Of course you CAN take your luggage on the trains. It's really a question of how big and how heavy it is, and whether you really want to. Florence gava a really good explanation as to why we always use the baggage delivery service. The trains themselves aren't the main problem...it's hauling the bags around that is a hassle. Train stations aren't anywhere near as friendly for people with bags as airports. Stairs are everywhere...for example, to even get into Osaka station, you have to go down 8 steps...or find the ramp area, which isn't easy to locate, it weaves through a bunch of shops. To board the trains, there is usually and escalator to the platforms, but the escalotors only go up...when you get off the train, you've got to navigate the stairs down with your bags and the hoards of people who also got off. Not pleasant. Some stations are really quite large, and there is no such thing as a baggage cart in a train station, either.

If you want to keep your bags with you rather than takkyubin them, then I would really recommend some sort of backpack style...it will make navigating the stairs easier and is more likely to it in a storage locker than a large suitcase.

Finally, the shinkansens do have the baggage compartments at the ends of the cars, as do airport express trains. Other trains generally do not have a baggage compartment. You will find, too, that very few other passengers will have much luggage to speak of...maybe a small overnight bag for a stay at onsen or some shopping bags.

If you pack very light and don't mind carrying your bags up and down stairs and for a good while, then by all means, keep them with you. It won't be a problem. If your bags are large and/or heavy, I'd recommend a small overnighter for Hakone and send your main luggage on to Kyoto. It's simple, hassle free, and easily arranged from your Tokyo hotel the day you depart for Hakone.

KimJapan is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 01:11 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 348
Thanks very much for the info.
I'd like to ask you a different question.
My husband and I would love to stay at a luxury Ryokan but...I am very concerned due to my disability (that's why my concern about carrying luggage). I have great trouble with steps (not impossible but very slow) and getting out of low chairs, etc. I sure would be extremely difficult. Would you know of a great ryokan in Hakone or Kyoto that would have a western dining table and perhaps western style bed. If it's not possible than we'll just have to have other wonderful experiences in Japan. I'm sure that won't be a problem.
Thanks again!!
JuneAnn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 01:29 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
I think a stay in a ryokan would be very nice, indeed. There are some that do offer a few rooms with beds. Just about all of them have some regular chairs in a section of the room usually overlooking the garden. If you condition allows, the baths are wonderful.

Sleeping on a futon on the floor is very comfortable, especially in the luxury places. and since it's just for one night, maybe you'd be ok...it's just getting up one morning, perhaps you could have your husband help you up.

Try looking at japanguesthouses.com - there are a few in Kyoto that say they have western rooms. I don't know your condition exactly, but I would guess you'd be fine in a traditional Japanese room. You could inquire to the places that interested you about how they might make your stay more comfortable...possibly a bed, dinner at a high table with chairs. I think you should give it a try!
KimJapan is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 01:46 PM
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Kim, thanks for the encouragement. You're right in that it's only one night and my husband could help. It sounds wonderful.
JuneAnn is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 343
How do you put your bags into the baggage compartment of the train? Is there a booth to go to - or do you stand at the end of the train and hope it's there? Is there much time at train stops to go to the compartment to claim your bag?
Amanda is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 07:37 PM
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There is no baggage compartment and there is no baggage car. You are on your own. At the end of some cars on some trains, there is a small luggage rack that might hold 10 bags or so. These are found on the airport trains and shinkansens. Otherwise, there is an overhead shelf that is used for luggage which is big enough for a backpack but not a suitcase. You can also put your bags on the floor in front of your seat. There is a little more space on the trains than on the airplane. The seats at either end of the cars have slightly more space at your feet.
KimJapan is offline  

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