The week before
It was one more week until my Tokyo and Hakone trip. Very exciting stuff, but I had a dilemma. The plan was to go from Narita Airport to Tokyo and down to Hakone, touring around on the way. What in the world was I going to do with all my luggage? My first idea was to use the lockers that can be found in stations but that would mean I’d have to come back to collect them each time I change locations. My next thought was to just carry it around but that equalled heavy lifting all day up and down stairs, through busy streets and in and out of stores. Really I just wished my suitcase could grow some legs and follow me all day, but that just seemed a little weird — and not scientifically possible.
However, coincidentally, or non-scientifically, the stars aligned and fate chose me to trial a new luggage service that apparently carried your bags right from the airport all the way to your hotel. Thank you universe!
Booking my luggage transfer
Getting a quote was very simple. I just scrolled down the website and selected my route, destination and luggage size. It was going to be ¥2,500 for a 25kg bag from Narita to Hakone.
I filled in all the details, confirmed and paid with my credit card. A ping from my phone signaled an email confirmation with a barcode to use once I was at the airport.
The day of
I’d arrived at Narita and was already frustrated with my luggage whilst I looked for the JTB Luggage-Free Travel service desk. Luckily it didn’t take long to find it. I went up to the desk, and put my code into an iPad.
From there I just had to confirm my details; a receipt printed out automatically on the other side which was given to me by the desk clerk in return for my suitcase. And that was it. My suitcase was gone. I was now free!
On the train to Tokyo, I watched other tourists awkwardly help each other lift up their suitcases onto the train and then sit with them between their legs. They all had to keep apologizing to the locals that they were bumping into. If only they’d known it didn’t have to be that way.
Arriving in the city, I headed to Tokyo Tower. I wanted a nice photo from Zojoji Temple just in front. The first thing I noticed when I got to the temple was: a whole lotta’ stairs. But having no luggage meant I had no excuse, so up I went and got my photo for the ‘gram.
After all that walking and climbing I needed food ASAP. Looking up recent popular snacks in Japan, it didn’t take me long to find these mozzarella corn dogs and fancy teas in Shin-Okubo, known as Tokyo’s Koreatown.
Now, I realize Japan has a huge population but when I arrived I was pretty sure this area was where they were all at. Was I walking the street or part of some sort of moshpit? It was hard to tell. I found the corndog store — thanks to the huge line out front — but the real struggle was to stop to actually get in it. Behind me was a human wave that wasn’t easy to jump out of.
About to be taken out by someone’s travel bag, I somehow dived out of the way, Mission Impossible-style, and secured myself a place in line before devouring the mozzarella corn dog almost as fast it was handed to me. Impressed with my own moves I then decided to go back the crazy way I just came from to grab a drink at a popular bubble tea store.
After finishing up my bubble tea and checking out some more of Tokyo it was time to head to Hakone. I got to Shinjuku Station and went down to the “Ekichika” (the food basement of the station) to pick up some delicious things to eat on the train. I may have looked around for too long, because I ended up having to run to make it. I said a prayer of thanks to the Savvy goddesses that I didn’t have my suitcase.
An hour and a half later I arrived. The area around Hakone Yumoto station was beautiful, completely surrounded by green mountains and a river that ran along the side of it. After exploring, it was soon check-in time for my hotel. I couldn’t help but feel smug again as I passed families waiting at bus stops with their big suitcases. Just a quick luggage-free ride got me to my hotel, no worries.
Reunited with my suitcase
My home for the night, Hotel Okada, was about as photogenic as they come. My luggage was going to be delivered between 6 and 9 p.m. that night so I decided to check in first. Relaxing in my lovely room, I’d half forgotten about my luggage until I received the arrival email and a phone call from the front desk.
I went down, showed the hotel clerk the code from my phone, he then confirmed it and handed me over my suitcase. Easy!
The rest of the night was spent enjoying a traditional Japanese meal in my room and dipping in multiple outdoor onsen (hot springs). The perfect way to end a fun-filled day.
The day after
All-you-can-eat buffet breakfast and more onsen — what an awesome way to start the day. After repacking my suitcase with the little souvenir snacks that came free (I hope) with the room, I had a choice to make. I could either send my suitcase back to the airport, or on to my next destination. I guess another choice was to keep the suitcase and carry it around all day but pfft, who would do that when it can just meet up with you itself elsewhere — and without growing legs.
The Deets on the Luggage-Free Travel Service
This convenient service, provided by JTB, one of Japan’s leading travel agencies, is available all over Japan. I highly recommend it to all travelers who want to really enjoy Japan without the baggage hassle, and especially for big families with multiple suitcases or people like me who tend to overpack!
Send from: Airport, hotel, or Tourist Information Center
Receive from: Airport or hotel
Languages available: English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese
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