Easy-Peasy Hands-Free Sightseeing in KyotoService Expands, Post Office Also Participating
"Hands-Free Travel," a service that accepts baggage from tourists visiting Kyoto at airports or other facilities and delivers it to their hotels or other sites, has been expanding. On December 1, Kyoto Central Post Office, in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, became the first post office in Japan to begin providing this service. Expectations are high for the service to enhance sightseeing convenience and relieve congestion on public transportation.
It is anticipated that this post office's "Hands-Free Travel Counter," which is located on the west side of JR Kyoto Station, will receive up to 300 pieces of baggage every day. A temporary baggage-checking service is available from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at 600 yen per bag. Delivery service costs 1,500 yen per bag. The service has tie-ups with 14 hotels in Kyoto City. Baggage dropped off between 9:00 a.m. and noon will be delivered by 6:00 p.m. on the same day.
On the day the service started, a woman living in Kyoto, whose parents came from Russia for sightseeing, said happily, "I wanted to show them Kyoto immediately, but their suitcases were in our way. It was hard to find a coin-operated locker. Now we can go and enjoy autumn maple leaves comfortably."
Currently in Kyoto City, an increasing number of foreign tourists ride on buses and trains with their large suitcases, which worsens congestion. Hands-Free Travel has been promoted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism since 2014. In Kyoto City, 14 counters, including six around Kyoto Station, have been opened. From locations which offer the most delivery destinations, baggage can be delivered to roughly 500 hotels in Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures.
However, there is still only one counter that connects Kansai International Airport and hotels in Kyoto City directly. Most of its users are Japanese. This may be partly due to insufficiency in publicizing the service to foreign tourists. Moreover, connecting it with the continuously growing number of budget hotels and guest houses is also a challenge.
The Kyoto City Tourism MICE Promotion Section said, "As there are long lines in front of the centers during the tourist seasons, we would like to continue helping set up more centers, but it requires further consideration as there are many issues related to conditions, such as location and capacity of floor space."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)