Post: Wednesday July 15, 2015
Have you ever needed to mail something or pick up a package while living in Japan? Like in most of the rest of the world, Japan has an efficient postal system with 24,000 post offices scattered all over the country to meet mailing needs. The Japanese Postal System also offers a number of financial services, some of which are exceedingly convenient to visitors from abroad.
Finding a Post Office (or postal box)
Finding a post office is easy. Just look for the below symbol to identify a post office. They are always displayed in visible locations on the exterior of any post office. They also mark postal boxes where letters with appropriate stamps can be dropped off.
If you ever need to find a post office and don’t see the above symbol anywhere, you can always ask a friendly passerby or a police officer. Just say: “Yubinkyoku ha dochira desu ka?” (Yubinkyoku means Post Office). They will certainly be able to point you in the right direction.
Services offered by the Post Office
The postal system offers numerous services that are useful to both Japanese and non-Japanese alike.
● Domestic Mailing – Like anywhere in the world, standard domestic mailing is the core function of the post office.
Letters, packages, and parcels can be sent via several classes of mail, most notably standard or express to any
address in the country.
● International Mailing – Letters can be sent internationally to any country in the world.
o Rates for letters sent by airmail to other counties range from 90-230 yen for standard sized envelopes going
anywhere in the world.
● EMS Japan – Express Mail Service is an insured international parcel mailing service that allows delivery of
packages and parcels to any location on earth. It uses computerized tracking to keep you updated on the status
of your package through the shipping process.
o Rates for EMS are fairly reasonable and start at 900 yen for the smallest packages going to somewhere in
Asia and up to nearly 70,000 yen for 30 kilograms going to South America or Africa.
● Savings Accounts – The Japan Post Bank offers standard savings accounts to any resident of Japan.
Foreigners can open and use Postal Savings accounts as long as they can show a residency card.
● ATM – One of the most useful services offered by the Japanese postal service are 24 hour ATMs at nearly every
location that accept most international debit and credit cards. English language menus are offered on the ATMs
so they are very accessible.
Japanese Address Format
The Japanese Address System is not organized based on street name and number and houses, and buildings are not in any sort of numerically increasing order. In fact, it can seem quite random and makes finding a particular location quite challenging if you’re not familiar with the area or don’t have a map. That said, here’s how it works.
For our example, we’ll take the American embassy in Tokyo. It appears as below:
〒107-8420 東京都港区 赤坂1丁目10-5
In roman character’s that’s:
107-8420 Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka 1 Chome 10-5.
Sometimes you will see it written simply as “Minato-ku, Akasaka 1-10-5.”
Please remember that Japanese addresses are written from largest locational unit to smallest.
In our example it goes:
● 107-8420 Tokyo-to – this is the postal code and the prefectural level address, in this case - Tokyo
● Minato-ku – this is a municipality level address, in this case – Minato Ward in Tokyo
● Akasaka – this is the lowest level of regional address, typically referring to a district or sub-district.
There may be multiple levels of this in a given address.
● 1-10-5 – This is the individual numeric level address, starting with the “chome” or district, and then the individual
block and building numbers. Be warned that these block and building numbers do not follow a logically increasing
order in most cases.
Note: If the address is written in English, typically, the order is reversed so the smallest unit comes first. To use our example, it would be: 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minatu-ku, Tokyo-to 107-8420.
Japanese Post Office Location
Closest to Hiroo Station:
● The Minamiazabugo Post Office located at 5-16-10 Minamiazabu, Minato-ku
If you live close to Roppongi, you have a couple of more options:
● Roppongi Hills Post Office – 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku
● Tokyo Midtown Post Office –Tokyo Midtown 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku
● Nishi Azabu Post Office – 1-8-11 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku
Going to the Post Office
While it seems like going to a post office in Japan might be intimidating, the good news is that they are relatively accessible to the non-Japanese speaker. Almost all of the forms and instructions at the post office have English as well as Japanese versions and there should be English labels indicating the services provided at each counter.
Also, note that service at the post office is based on a ticket/number system where you take a ticket and then go to the counter when your number is displayed. Be sure you take the ticket for the correct counter where you need service (stamps, parcel pick-up, etc.).
If you are moving within Japan or moving outside of the country, you can contact the post office to have your mail forwarded to your new address. They will forward your mail within Japan for up to one year. If you are moving outside of Japan, please arrange to have your mail forwarded to a friend living in Japan or else, where possible, to your human resources department at your employer, who can then forward on to you as appropriate.
In order to have your mail forwarded, you need to fill out the Mail Forwarding form that you can pick up at any post office. Please see the picture below for guidance on filling out the form.
You can either submit this form at the post office or else drop it in any post office box around town.
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