Q&A: How to Use Coin Lockers in Japan

Q&A: How to Use Coin Lockers in Japan

Update: 6 November 2017

Learn all about coin lockers in Japan: their sizes, their mechanisms, and the basic way to use them. If you run into trouble – or want to avoid it in the first place – this Q&A will surely help you out!

The Mechanisms and Payment of Japanese Coin Lockers

The Mechanisms and Payment of Japanese Coin Lockers

There are generally two types of Japanese coin lockers in Japanese train stations: those operated with actual coins and those operated by IC cards or PIN codes. The touchscreen-type coin lockers accept 500 yen coins and 1000-yen bills, but you can also choose to pay with IC cards such as Suica and PASMO.
※Coin lockers marked as “Suica” also accept PASMO cards, and vice versa. IC cards mainly used outside of the Tokyo area (such as ICOCA, Kitaca, nimoca, SUGOCA, and TOICA) may also be accepted.

■ The Size of Japanese Coin Lockers

■ The Size of Japanese Coin Lockers

Coin lockers come in three different sizes. Small is perfect for totes and other small bags and backpacks, while you’ll want a medium-size locker for luggage bags. Large generally even fits bigger suitcases. Some places even offer extra-large coin lockers that easily fit two luggage bags.

■ Coin Locker Size Examples:

Small: 257mm height × 355mm width × 575mm depth
317mm height × 355mm width × 575mm depth

Medium: 550mm height × 355mm width × 575mm depth

Large: 880mm height × 355mm width × 575mm depth

Extra Large: 1153mm height × 355mm width × 575mm depth

How to Use a Japanese Coin Locker

■ Key-Type Coin Lockers
Coin lockers that are opened and closed with keys are generally the type to be paid with 100 yen coins. While you cannot check their availability via the Suica coin locker search engine for JR station or various other search sites, they tend to be more vacant than others. This is because they exclusively accept 100 yen coins for payment. As such, these key-type coin lockers are a recommendation for tourists who don’t have an IC card such as Suica or PASMO.

Storing Luggage
1. Find a coin locker with a key in the keyhole.
2. Store your luggage and close the door.
3. Insert as many coins as the display shows (remember, 100 yen coins only!).
4. Hold the door shut, turn the key to the left, and pull it out.

Picking Up Luggage
1. Check the number of the locker and insert the key.
2. Turn the key to the right while holding the door.

If You Exceeded the Storage Time
1. Check the number of the locker and insert the key.
2. Insert as many 100 yen coins as needed to pay the extra charge.
3. Turn the key to the right while holding the door.

■ IC Card & PIN Type Coin Lockers
These type of coin lockers can be checked for vacancy via internet and apps and are operated via touchscreen. You can freely choose to pay with either an IC card such as Suica or PASMO, or cash. On top of Japanese, the touch panel is available in English, Chinese (simplified), and Korean.

Storing Luggage
1. Press the button for “deposit” on the touch panel. The screen will tell you to put your luggage into an empty locker.
2. The numbers of empty lockers are displayed on the screen, so simply choose which one you’d like to use.
3. Close the locker’s door and hold it shut until a lamp begins to flash.
4. Choose to pay with either cash (PIN code) or IC card (Suica, PASMO, etc.)
5a. If you pay cash, you will receive a receipt with the PIN code printed on it.
5b. If you use an IC card, simply touch the reader and take the receipt once it has been printed.

※The location of the locker and contact information of the responsible company are printed on the receipts of both cash and IC card payments, so make sure to keep them!

Picking Up Luggage
1. Press the button for “retrieval” on the touchscreen.
2. Select either cash or IC card, depending on your method of payment when you stored your luggage in the coin locker.
3a. If you paid cash, enter the PIN code on the receipt via the screen.
3b. If you paid with an IC card, touch the card reader.
4. The locker will open automatically and you can pick up your luggage!

If You Exceeded the Storage Time
・PIN Code: Insert the extra charge displayed on the screen after entering your PIN code.
・IC Card: The extra charge is automatically deducted from your IC card when you touch the card reader.

Coin Locker Q&A

Coin Locker Q&A
Money change machines can often be found near key-type coin lockers.

Q1: I don’t have coins on me. What if I need to change money?
Money change machines can usually be found near certain coin locker types. Those machines cannot process 5,000 yen or 10,000 yen bills but instead accept 1,000 yen bills and 500 yen coins, changing them to 100 yen coins.
If there’s no such machine nearby, we recommend buying a drink at a nearby vending machine or kiosk, as places like convenience stores and shops do not offer money changing services. Touchscreen-type coin lockers usually accept 1,000 yen bills.

Q2: What happens if I leave my luggage in the locker longer than a day?
You will need to pay an extra fee. If you used a key-type coin locker, the due amount is displayed after you put the key in the keyhole, then you simply need to pay with coins. For touchscreen-type lockers, enter your PIN code or touch the card reader with your IC card to see the due amount. Either pay for it in cash or have it deducted automatically from your IC card.
A note on coin lockers that charge a set amount for “one day:” one day does not necessarily mean 24 hours, nor until midnight, when one day changes to the next. The timing when a coin locker “resets” differs from locker to locker but often is at either 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. at night. If you were to deposit your luggage at 10:00 p.m. in the evening, for example, and picked it up at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, you might be billed for two days.

Q3: How long can I store my luggage? What happens once the last day has passed?
Generally, coin lockers allow you to store your luggage for up to three days, including the day of the deposit – some even allow four days.
After this period, your coin locker will be opened by the staff of the management company. From then, you have a month to pick it up from the company’s storage. You won’t only have to pay for the coin locker fee, but also for each day the company stores your luggage, and a key fee of several thousand yen becomes due as well.

Q4: What cannot be stored in a Japanese coin locker?
・Cash and valuable papers
・Valuables (such as precious metals, antiques, important documents, cards, cameras, notebooks, and so on)
・Dangerous items (explosives, toxic chemicals, etc.)
・Things that are prohibited by law (weapons, etc.)
・Stolen goods
・Foul-smelling items, dirty items, things that are easy to break, things that might stain the locker, things that could damage the locker
・Any item that seems unsuitable for storage

By using a Japanese coin locker, you agree to the conditions stated above. While food is not explicitly mentioned, it falls under the category of “foul-smelling items” and “unsuitable for storage.” While packaged souvenirs are usually not a problem, do be careful with raw foods or anything that needs refrigeration.

Q5: What do I do if I lose the key or forget the PIN code for the coin locker?
Contact the managing company and ask for staff to come to the location of the coin locker you used. You will need to fill out a form regarding the loss of the key, then you can pick up your luggage. However, you will be asked for identification and about the details of the items stored in the locker, to verify they really belong to you. If you exceeded the storage time, a key fee of several thousand yen will also be due.
The business time varies by managing company, of course, but they often are from 8~9 a.m. to 8~10 p.m.

Q6: What do I do if I forget the location of the coin locker?
In that case, check either the key itself or the receipt that you got upon storing your luggage.
The locker number, station name, and location details (such as JR Shinjuku East Exit 1F) is written on the keychain. If you used a touchscreen-type coin locker, all that information can be found on the receipt, along with the contact information of the managing company.
Feel free to show either your key or the receipt to station staff who will guide you to your locker. If you want to be extra sure, take a picture of the coin locker and its surroundings right after storing your luggage!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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