Left luggage/coin lockers inside customs a Kansai International Airport?
December 15, 2016 12:06 AM   Subscribe

Are there coin lockers or other left luggage services inside customs in the Kansai International Airport? I have an overnight layover in Osaka, and I've also newly started taking a medication that's prohibited in Japan (but legal with Rx everywhere else I'll be). Is there a way to leave it in coin lockers or with other left luggage before I go through customs? And overnight?

My hope is to avoid bringing a controlled substance through customs, and I'd plan on retrieving it from the locker the next day before my flight--though unless I feel 100% confident in the availability of coin lockers, I'll end up leaving it at home. I know my chances of being searched when I go through customs are super-low, but I'd rather not risk it. Any other suggestions welcome, though FWIW Japan has been pretty inflexible in regards to the "but what if I have a doctor's note attesting to my legitimate need for this medication" question, at least in this particular case.
posted by tapir-whorf to Travel & Transportation around Osaka, Japan (7 answers total)
Sleeping In Airports seems to indicate everything is ground side.

However, maybe you could have your bag forwarded directly to your destination and get off in Osaka with just hand luggage?
posted by Happy Dave at 12:14 AM on December 15, 2016

Regarding luggage forwarding: There's nothing to say they won't search that as well, it will still pass through customs, just independent of you (as any package you mailed to yourself would.) If they find controlled substances in there, you'll be in at least as much trouble as if you brought it through yourself.

And yeah, there are certain medications where if you're going to Japan, you're just plain out of luck. You may want to consider mailing your medication from the place you are before Japan to the place you'll be after Japan, if it is reasonable/legal to do so.

I've been through KIX, but not a lot. I could be forgetting something but I'm pretty sure there were not coin lockers before customs, everything was on the other side.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 2:05 AM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've never flown through KIX, but never seen any lockers or left luggage airside in several other international airports in Japan. I don't think you'll find anything pre-customs at KIX either.


Unapproved is different from controlled. If it is really controlled / illegal in Japan such as opioids for pain or amphetamines for some other reason, then you never ever want to mess with that no matter what. Unapproved as a prescription drug such as something for arthritis treatment might get picked up at customs, but not be chargeable. (Anecdotal friends importing prescription drugs for things like arthritis or autoimmune treatment.)

I don't know how much time you have to prepare for this trip, but I think there may be one level above, "but what if I have a doctor's note attesting to my legitimate need for this medication," that is worth pursuing. That is, letter and arrangement from a physician in Japan, "who will receive this drug for my care." Possible for things like experimental / in research medications. But that is maybe too much overhead for one night.

If the medication is also legal at your final destination, can you just resupply there? Might cost more depending upon insurance etc. but is that possible?
posted by Gotanda at 2:51 AM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm fairly certain that there are no lockers before customs - and I've been through that airport a lot. There's a good reason why they don't have them - you'd need to be able to get back there to make them worthwhile having. An overnight layover means exiting the airport and checking in again the next day. You're not going to be going anywhere near customs during the departure process. Immigration, yes. Customs, no.

I know my chances of being searched when I go through customs are super-low, but I'd rather not risk it.

I know the exact opposite from experience. I can count the times I haven't had my luggage searched on one hand. Terror attacks that can happen at any time in the world tend to cause customs to ramp up their checks, especially in Japan.

I also know an old colleague who spent time behind bars here after being too blaise about importing a medication that is banned here, which is why I would strongly advise you to follow the resupply at / forward to destination options, as others have suggested.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 3:39 AM on December 15, 2016

Maybe it is just me (brown guy from Canada), but Japanese customs consistently goes through my stuff when I travel there by myself. I've also been randomly stopped and questioned by police at KIX and various train/subway stations. I wouldn't risk it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2016

I'm pretty sure this is a definite "don't bring it" situation, but one last follow-up question: What if I pack it in checked baggage? Will I have to claim my checked baggage for the layover, or can I just carry hand luggage for my overnight? (I'd hoped to travel with only a carry-on, but will be bringing fifteen pounds of books for a friend at my final destination, and would rather not lug those around Osaka, either.) Is this a potential solution? And if it is, do I need to confirm that my checked luggage will be held overnight?
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:24 PM on December 15, 2016

You are going to have to claim your bag in Osaka. If you do not, that is one way to make almost certain it will be searched.

You could ask your airline to check it all the way through to final destination, but I very much doubt they will do that because terrorism. And, even if some airline employee offers you this service by phone today, you would never be sure if it would actually happen until you check in. And even then, delays, changes, errors happen.

You do not have to drag a heavy bag around Osaka. Left luggage after customs will be no problem.
posted by Gotanda at 3:33 PM on December 15, 2016

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