Moving is stressful, trying to move on your own in a foreign country can be a nightmare.
In Japan, few people own cars compared to western standards and public transportation is mainly used, but it is not so easy to fit a two-person couch in a crowded subway car or you might not have the license to rent a Kei truck and drive halfway across the country. Luckily there are over 200 different moving companies that can make the process smooth and painless, but deciding on one is still time-consuming and can be a hassle.
The moving companies provide services ranging from hiring single person professional movers to entire teams carrying out logistic operations to pack and move all of your belongings, set up your internet, and even clean your furniture. With so many options, it’s hard for even native Japanese to decide which one is best. So we made a list of the most popular moving companies for you so you can leisurely choose the one which meets your needs. This guide will introduce some of the most popular companies along with tips on how to lower costs to fit your budget in different scenarios.
Sakai Moving Service (サカイ引越センター)
Sakai is one of the most well known companies here. They have a wide variety of courses ranging from hiring a helper with a fixed amount of space in a shared truck to move stuff together to a family course which along with moving, also includes packing services where they carefully wrap and provide specialized boxes for each type of item and house cleaning. They also include setting up your internet with most of their plans. Sakai is a great option for families, individuals with valuable furniture, and those that feel inexperienced when it comes to moving. Sakai is not recommended for those that have a bit more experience and are just looking for a simple service.
Art Corporation (アート引越センター)
Like Sakai, Art is another big and reliable company. Compared to other companies, Art can be on the pricey end, but they offer a lot of free and unique services, which is their advantage point. If you go with Art the whole moving process is simple as they take care of aspects like setting up your internet, throwing away large garbage, coming back to collect the used cardboard boxes and they even provide a neighborhood greetings service, where they will personally go door to door to bring presents to your neighbors. Here are some of the free services that they offer with their plans.
- Post office address change
- Internet setup
- Sell unused books/CDs
- Large item trash disposal
- Furniture re-arrangement service up to 1 year
- Cleaning furniture during the move
Art also offers special discounts for:
- Seniors over the age of 60
- Females living alone
Art is recommended for busy folks who don’t want to touch a single part of the moving process as well as those who are eligible to take advantage of the discounts.
Arisan Mark (アリさんマーク引越）
Arisan is a simpler service which doesn’t provide as many perks as some of the more luxurious options. The process to select a plan is simple and first divided into 3 categories: single, family, and long-distance. Within each category, they offer 3 different plans according to the scale of your move. Arisan is reasonable with their prices and emphasize their ability to maintain a low price in long-distance moves since they are able to utilize JR’s freight trains.
With each contract they also provide basic items for moving such as cardboard boxes, special boxes to directly hang garments, and even gift futon pillows and covers. After each move also includes a free 10 minute service of general cleaning, un-packaging small items, and assistance with any small requests.
Akabou is well known for being one of the cheaper alternatives and better for those who need an extra hand to move and deliver items. They operate nationwide, and an excellent choice for a more local move. As expected with the cost, Akabou doesn’t provide the same quality as the other ones mentioned. In fact, they only send about one to two people and you are pretty much expected to help if you have big furniture. The quality of service heavily depends on the person assigned to you, so there’s no guarantee for quality.
Aside from the larger companies mentioned above, there are also many local companies that provide moving services. Many of these companies reduce costs by using a shared truck system, where a single truck is used to transport luggage to multiple homes.
This system is not practical for a long distance move. So these companies will rent a truck to deliver your items, which can substantially increase cost. In this case, it is best to go with a bigger company like ones mentioned here.
However, for short distances, there are many local companies that have prices and services that are cheaper than bigger companies.
Less Traditional Option: PickGo
Nowadays technology has begun to break into the moving business and there are Uber-like services such as PickGo, which can be very budget-friendly.
With PickGo, you post a listing and detail the move with a list of items, pictures, and the pickup/drop-off destinations. Independent movers then direct message you through the app with quotes and you can bargain for your desired price. You then can coordinate directly with the mover through the app on the day of the move. Since you register a credit card to your account, payment is easily done through the app.
The type of help greatly varies based on the individual. However you can customize how much direct support you need and match it with the bargained price.
PickGo can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play.
Ways to Lower your Price Quote
Moving can be very expensive, and there are certain things you can do to keep costs cheap.
- Avoid the months of March, April, July, and August. March and April are the peak months since many people start new careers or enter schools to begin their new life. July and August are summer vacation months and prices during this time can also be high.
- When negotiating with a company, do not specify a date. Instead, ask for the cheapest price during their most convenient date. By letting them choose the date, they’ll schedule you at their least busy time and this will result in a lower price. With that being said, you’ll most likely be scheduled on a weekday.
- If you’re moving internationally, we recommend sending your parcels through boat instead of the plane. This may take a few weeks to months, but it’s a much more affordable option.
- Lastly, you should always negotiate. Unlike most things in japan, prices for moving companies are not fixed and in many cases, these companies offer you their highest prices at first. By negotiating and leveraging quotes from multiple companies, you’ll be able to haggle the price down considerably.
In this article, we reviewed various moving companies, ways to get cheaper prices, and recommendations for different types of moves. There are over 200 different companies, so it’s impossible to review them all, so we handpicked some companies with the best prices and services.