It can be a great feeling when you hop onto Tokyo Sayonara Sales or even Craigslist and manage to bag a great dresser and a near-mint-condition washing machine for a bargain from a seller 25km away. The feeling of elation can be quickly deflate when you realize that you’ve got no idea how you’re going to get the items back to your place. Then, you check online at top removal companies and they’re all charging 10x the price you paid for the item in the first place, just to move it from north to west Tokyo.

What to do? Time to get smart. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and worked out how to move large items around Tokyo. Whilst this article includes info for the Kanto region specifically, there is a lot of crossover for other regions so read ahead to find out how to avoid paying through the nose to move your new sofa.

Japan washer and dryer
You have options, even if it’s just a single item. | Photo by iStock.com/electravk

DIY

Every Cheapo loves a bit of that DIY spirit, especially when it’s kind to your wallet. Let’s take a look at the options.

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One of the coolest things to do in Tokyo! Discover the samurai practice of Kenbu Tachibana Ittoryu, a special sword performance. During your class you’ll dress up in a samurai outfit and train with a katana (single-edge samurai sword). A photo shoot is included, Great experience for families and children!

Rent-a-Car

If you have a car license, why not move it by yourself? Probably the cheapest option is to rent a big car from Nico-Nico Rent a Car (the cheapest!) for 6 hours for ¥8,000 and get everything done. With the bigger type (wagon) there is ample space and moving a small apartment should only take a few trips. A sofa you’ve got from Jimoty will only take one.

Another tip: if you’re planning on getting things from Jimoty and you’re renting a car we suggest scheduling them for the same day and picking them all up in one swoop. You could even rent a car, move your items and then do a Jimoty sweep to finish off.

Car Share

Certain credit cards such as Rakuten have the added bonus of signing up driving licence holders to the Times Car sharing scheme.


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This service is fantastic because you can mix-and-match, picking the type of car to fit the occasion. Holiday to the beach? Kei type. Moving a washing machine and refrigerator? You need a wagon. Another good thing about using a car share such as Times is that it doesn’t matter what time you return it by and filling it up at the end saves you 15 mins of yen. Unlike the car rental places, there is no closing time, so even if the trip there and back takes way longer than planned, you needn’t worry.

Vans are often available via carshare services or rentacar companies. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Dolly Style

Buy a dolly trolley (also called, platform trolley, hand truck or daisha in Japanese) or borrow one. This method probably won’t work for that 3-seater sofa but it will work for the washing machine.

Once you’ve acquired the trolley, all you need to do is strap the appliance or large, bulky item to it and head back home. Train or bus, be prepared for some funny looks and lots of searching for lifts.

Points for ingenuity, money and excitement.

External Services

The ultimate cheapo tip is to head to a Facebook group like Tokyo Expat Network or a message board and post an advert asking for someone to move it for you. There is a good chance that your post will start a mini bidding war amongst group users.

A downside to this is concerns whether or not they are insured. If you’re willing to take the gamble then go for it! If it’s an item you got for free or for peanuts anyway then it’s probably worth a punt.

If it’s something a bit more valuable then it’s a good idea to get someone who is insured. Check the blokes bellow for our recommendations.

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Midori Home Services

For expats moving items around Kanto, a good choice is the very experienced David Green of Midori Home Services. David has been running his own moving business around Tokyo for over 10 years and is an expert at moving and removing. He is also adept at putting together furniture, fitting lighting and so on, so even if you’re moving something flatpack he can see it all the way through. A firm favorite, beloved by the expat community, David provides service with a smile and is very quick to respond, too.

Tokyo Gold Star Moving Services

Another friendly recommendation is for Tokyo Gold Star Moving Services, which is run by a nice Australian named Ashley. Ashley knows how hard and expensive it can be to move house or even move single things like beds around Tokyo.

Unlike some other services, Tokyo Gold Star Moving Services are available to move even smaller items such as bikes and washing machines.

With a van large enough to fit a sofa yet small enough to maneuver round the tiny Tokyo backstreets *Setagaya cough cough,* you can rest assured that your item will get straight to wherever you want it. Even if it’s up five tiny backstreets or down the side of Golden Gai.

Yamato Home Convenience

‘Send it!’ in the voice of a Gen Z. But moving large items in a good way, of course. You’ll have to check before you book though. Depending on the type of item, some places don’t allow washing machines, but will do three-seater sofas, for instance.

A Yamato Home Convenience truck spotted in the wild. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Yamato Home Convenience (an offshoot of Yamato Transport) offers a service which ranges from aircons moved from ¥4,400 through to washing machines from ¥7,500 and sofas from ¥11,000. The ‘Furniture and Electronics’ service is great because service is available in English and you don’t even have to be there. Two staff members will nurture your new washing machines like their children and get them safely from A to B.

The cat will be pleased to finally have somewhere to sleep! | Photo by iStock.com/Lulamej

Let us know how you get on moving your large items around Tokyo or your local city on the Tokyo Cheapo Community.

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Filed under: Household | Living
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