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24 July


Japan solved the problem of hands-free travel

Bags are can be left in cafes, restaurants and temples

Photo: JapanTimes

/NOVOSTIVL/ Having your luggage stolen or losing it while traveling can easily ruin a trip, but dragging bulky baggage around crowded tourist spots can hijack your itinerary, too. This article appeared in The Japan News.

The latter is more likely in Japan, especially in major destinations like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto where the tourism boom is making the task of finding a vacant coin locker a major challenge for domestic and international visitors alike.

The problem has sparked the rise of digital platforms aimed at helping travelers go hands-free by matching them with providers of storage space.

Picture yourself elbowing your way through Tokyo’s famed Shibuya scramble crossing — said to be the world’s busiest — while toting heavy suitcases after failing to find an open coin locker.

This scenario could easily occur during this year’s extended Golden Week holiday from Saturday to May 6 as Japan marks the Imperial succession and the start of a new era Wednesday.

Japan’s leading travel agency, JTB Corp., projects that 24.01 million people will be traveling around Japan during the 10-day period.

Tokyo-based Ecbo Inc., operator of the nation’s first platform connecting travelers with baggage storage establishments, hopes the service can help tourists travel with ease.

Kudo said the service represents the first step toward addressing one of the most daunting challenges of travel: how to handle one’s belongings and time.

Kudo launched the Ecbo Cloak service in January 2017, allowing travelers to store luggage for up to a few days at more than 1,000 facilities including coffee shops, beauty salons, karaoke parlors and even shrines, in major cities from Kyushu to Hokkaido. For a fixed price ranging from ¥300 to ¥800 per item, travelers can book storage space via smartphone or the firm’s website.