A good general principle when considering your travel bag and luggage for Japan and Tokyo is to pack as light as you can manage. Most visitors to Japan will utilise public transport during their visit, which requires lots of walking, climbing steps and getting around. The Japan and Tokyo public transport system can get quite crowded and you may only have limited space to store your luggage, and as a result you should plan to take only small and medium size wheeled or backpack style travel bag or Japanese luggage and a small hand held bag, messenger bag or backpack.
If you have managed to purchase a cheap carry on luggage only flight then you will also need to constrain your luggage to items which will fit into the aircraft overhead locker and meet airline size and weight requirements.
For longer distance Shinkansen or bullet train travel you usually have an overhead luggage rack which will fit either a small or medium travel bag, and sit your hand luggage at your feet.
Japan Shinkansen Luggage Allowances
In Japan the allowable luggage that you can carry on a shinkansen is up to two pieces of baggage on board free of charge. For each bag the total of the length, width and height must not exceed 250 centimeters, the length must not exceed two meters and the weight must be no more than 30 kilograms. For more information check out Japan Rail East page on this topic.
With a small or medium size bag you should be able to easily lift the bag into the overhead luggage rack on the shinkansen. For larger bags each shinkansen carriage has an area where you can place your luggage, either if it is larger in size or you cannot lift it into the overhead space.
Japan Travel Bag Sizes
Sizing for a small carry bag usually requires a maximum bag size of 22 inches (22 inches/56 cm x 14 inches/35 cm x 9 inches/23 cm), and the combined length + width + height (including handles and wheels) must not exceed 45 inches/115 cm.
Sizing for a medium size bag (which must be checked in the aircraft hold) are bags up to 25 inches/71 cm long.
Japanese Luggage Recommendations
My recommended small to medium suitcase options for Japan are the brands Samsonite and American Tourister with 4 spinner wheels. Having four wheels make them easy to get around in Japan, especially if you will be taking them on the shinkansen or bullet trains.
We have owned and used both brands for many years, and have been very happy with how well these suitcases wear. The latest versions are very light weight and durable, and they also offer a warranty in the event that your suitcase gets damaged.
If you prefer a hard shell suitcase, click on the below links to check out the latest color options and pricing on Amazon for:
- Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside 20″ Luggage, Charcoal (carry on size)
- Samsonite 24-Inch Winfield 2 Fashion Spinner – Purple (medium size)
If you prefer a soft shell suitcase, click on the below links to check out the latest color options and pricing on Amazon for:
- Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable Spinner 20 (carry on size)
- Samsonite Aspire Xlite Expandable Spinner 25 (medium size)
- American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 21 (carry on size)
- American Tourister Ilite Max Softside Spinner 25 (medium size)
Japanese Messenger Bags
I have had a look and for someone who does not want to use a backpack I think a Japanese messenger bag is the perfect alternative. It has handles to hold it as well as a cross body strap for when you want to go hands free. I really like the look of the following items depending on your size preference – note that these are all available from Amazon USA and other Amazon country stores.
- Pacsafe Metrosafe LS200 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag in a range of colors. Click on the link to see colors and pricing.
- Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag (click on this link to see a huge range of color options)
If you prefer more of a Japanese handbag option here are some good options to check out:
- Pacsafe Metrosafe LS140 Anti-Theft Compact Shoulder Bag (click on the link to see the large range of colors and pricing)
Travelon Anti-Theft Signature E W Shoulder Bag (click on the link to see the large range of colors and pricing)
- Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag (click on the link to see huge range of color options and pricing)
If you prefer to use a day backpack when you travel here are a couple of Japanese backpack options which would be very suitable for Japan. These couple of options are great because they are compact and will easily fold up to fit into your luggage.
- Gowiss Backpack – Rated 20L / 33L. Click here to check out the prices and ranges of colors available.
Gonex 30L Lightweight Packable Backpack. Click here to check out the prices and range of colors available.
If you are like us you will end up doing some shopping in Japan – we were not prepared for overflow so ended up having to waste time searching for shops to purchase additional luggage while we were on our trip. I therefore also recommend that it is worthwhile to purchase a couple of additional soft foldable Japanese tote bags so you have them ready to go if you also succumb to purchasing additional items.
Essential features for these foldable tote bags is to have a loop which will go over the handle of your suitcase, and that they are durable enough to be checked into the aircraft hold. Click on the below links to check out the color options and pricing:
- Wandf Foldable Travel Duffel Bag (carry on size, luggage loop)
- Hoperay Travel Duffel Bag (carry on size, luggage loop)
- Bago Travel Duffel Bag (check in size – shoulder carry handle)
Check out our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – you are welcome to join and it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!
You may also like to check out some of my other articles such as the following:
- The Ultimate Quick List of What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo
- Best Travel Camera Options for Your Japan Trip
- Best Online Pocket Wifi Rental in Japan for Tourists
- Buyer’s Guide: Best Anti Theft Travel Bags
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