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Monday, November 12, 2012

Suitcases & Coin Lockers in Japan

コインロッカー

Sometimes when traveling through Japan, a coin locker is just what you need. It is an easy and inexpensive place to leave your luggage while you visit the local area. Coin lockers are available in all but the smallest train stations.

Coin Locker in Kochi


I carry a large suitcase because I plan to fill it with goods from Japan to take home. Usually there is a locker big enough to accommodate its bigger size; however, at times these lockers have been unavailable. That happened in Komatsu, Kanazawa Prefecture, but the staff at the tourist center kindly allowed us to leave the suitcase behind their counter for a few hours. Not so at the Akashi Tourist Center in Hyogo Prefecture.

Akashi Cat, Hyogo


My daughter and I were taking the JR to Hiroshima and we decided to stop at Akashi Castle along the way. The first thing we did was check Akashi Station for coin lockers. Amanda's suitcase fit easily into a smaller locker, but the one large locker was already in use. What to do?

We reentered the station and saw the Akashi Tourist Information Center located just inside a department store. It was scheduled to open in about thirty minutes and we stood by and waited. An elderly man approached us and chatted cheerfully with my daughter before presenting her with a gift of mochi from his home.

Suitcases & Coin Lockers in Hyogo, Japan


Inside at the Information center we briefly spotted a woman preparing for opening. Quickly she disappeared behind a curtain. "She's going back there so she won't have to see us," remarked Amanda. The thought had not occurred to me. "Really?" I asked.

At 10:00 am the doors opened and we approached the counter. My daughter asked if we could leave our suitcase with her for about an hour. The woman told us to get a locker, but when Amanda explained the situation the woman put up her hands in a dismissive gesture. Think "There is no way on earth that I am going to help you, and because you are foreigners you are stupid." We were a bit shocked, but we murmured thank you and slunk away. Never in our many visits to Japan had we encountered blatant rudeness. Amanda said the worst part was that the woman acted as if we didn't understand what she was saying. We decided we would just have to take the luggage with us.

Outside it was raining a bit. We headed toward Akashi Castle, and at first it was easy to pull the suitcase along the paved walkways. Then we hit gravel, wet and muddy gravel, and there was just no way. As we stood deciding what to do, no less than three local citizens expressed their concern over our dilemma. Finally I left the suitcase in a rut and covered it with my umbrella. We continued on our walk, and when we reached the top of the hill we peered over the edge. There sat my suitcase, undisturbed.

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