Japan101

Sending and Receiving Mail

You've got mail.

Sending mail within Japan

Japan Post Co. are the national mail service of Japan and are the main point of contact for sending general mail. They have post offices in almost every area.

  • 郵便局 = yuubinkyoku = post office

A standard letter costs ¥82 to send. Buy stamps at the post office or convenience store.

  • 切手 = kitte = stamp
  • 封筒 = fuutou = envelope

You can write the address in Japanese or English on the front of the envelope.

Japanese format

〒106-0044東京都港区東麻布1-8-1 ISビル4F GPlusMedia

  • 〒 = the postal code symbol
  • 106-0044 = the postal code
  • 東京都 = the prefecture
  • 港区 = the “ku” or ward
  • 東麻布 = the district or neighborhood –
  • 1-8-1 = the specific location
    • 1 = “cho” or district code
    • 8 = “ban” or block code
    • 1 = building number
  • IS ビル4F = the building name and floor (this would be building name and number in the case of an apartment)

English format for a Japanese address

GPlusMedia IS Bldg. 4F, Higashi-Azabu 1-8-1 Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044

International mail is formatted according to the style of the receiving country.

Standard vs. non-standard mail (letters)

Standard-sized mail

  • Long side = 14 – 23.5 cm
  • Short side = 9 – 12 cm
  • Thickness = up to 1 cm
  • Up to 50g

Non standard-sized mail

  • Long side: 60 cm
  • Length + width + height = 90 cm
  • Up to 2kg

Available options to send

  • Standard
  • Registered mail
  • Registered and insured mail

Japanese post box

As long as your letter has the right stamp, you can pop it in the post box. Left is for domestic mail and right is for international. Last collection is usually around 18:00.

Convenience Store

Some chains have mailboxes inside the store for standard post like letters and postcards.

The wonderful world of Takuhaibin (宅配便)

The main takuhaibin service is offered by Yamato (Kuroneko) Transport, Japan’s largest door-to-door delivery company and called Ta-Q-Bin. You can arrange parcel shipping through Ta-Q-Bin at most of the major convenience store chains.

The service is an efficient way of sending large boxes, luggage, sports equipment and furniture as well as standard parcels within Japan. They collect from your nearby convenience store, and deliver directly to the door of your recipient or even to the airport you’ll fly from the next day.

Prices are dependent on the size and weight of your package. You can also organize Ta-Q-Bin to pick up the parcel direct from your home or office.

The process is fairly simple. First make sure your package is OK to send to wherever you want to send it to and confirm the rate. Once you’ve packed it, take it to the convenience store and get a postage label. There are different types depending on the service and sending method.

  • 運送状 = unsoujiyo = postage/packing label

You can fill out the label in English. Yamato Transport have a fantastic website in English which explains exactly how to arrange Ta-Q-Bin, including filling out the various forms.

Attach the label to the package, pay and off it goes!

Receiving mail within Japan

Aside from receiving to your home or office address, there are also options for pick up:

  • Convenience store

Usually when buying something online, you can select “Convenience Store Pick Up” and have it delivered to your closest store. You’ll receive an email to come and get it.

  • Locker collection

Called “Hako Post”, again available when shopping online with Rakuten or Mercari. Just select the “Hako Post” option. You’ll be emailed with a pick-up code when it’s ready.

How to redeliver a package

If you miss your delivery you’ll receive a redelivery slip in your mailbox which looks like this:

How to redeliver your mail in Japan

It’s a good idea to scan the slip to see if there’s an English redelivery number first if you don’t feel confident having a go in Japanese. You can call this number and arrange everything with an English speaker.

You can also arrange redelivery via the Post Office website. Check out this post for a step by step guide on exactly how to do it.

Shipping to overseas

Ta-Q-Bin

Our favorite service Ta-Q-Bin also provides options to ship overseas which works in the same way as sending mail domestically.

At the post office

English Japanese  Romaji  Details
Surface Mail 船便 funabin The cheapest method to post overseas —a 20 kilogram box will cost around ¥10,000 and take about three months
Airmail 航空便 koukuubin The standard method for sending overseas
EMS 国際スピード郵便 kokusai speedo yuubin This service will send a package to most places in a speedy 2-4 days, but costs significantly more
Surface Air Lifted エコノミー航空 ekonomi koukuu An option halfway between Airmail and Surface Mail and a good middle ground between speed and expense
Insurance 保険 hoken For the package, varies by amount
Registered mail 書留 kakitome Proof that the mail was sent, the receiver will sign to show that it was delivered
What are the contents? 中身は何 ですか? Nakami wa nan desu ka? Often asked by the staff as Japanese delivery companies have lots of rules and regulations about delivering certain item

Sendable product categories

According to their official website, the postal service divides products into 5 broad categories:

  • Documents
  • Letters
  • Postcards
  • Packages
  • Printed material (such as books or magazines)

Each has a slightly different pricing structure, so be prepared for the price to keep changing if you have a variety of things in the box.

When shipping goods overseas, a customs declaration form must be completed. A “Fragile. Handle with Care” service is not available for international mail so make sure to secure your package properly.

International My-Page service with Japan Post

The My Page service offers:

  • Pre-printed EMS labels that can be ordered free online and delivered to your home in Japan.
  • An Online Shipping Tool that allows you to easily print labels on home printers.

Forwarding mail and submitting a change of address

  • 転居届 = tenkyo todoke = Change of Address Notification card

If there’s someone in the country who will agree to take care of any mail you receive, you can fill out a “Change of Address Notification” card with their address at any post office to have mail forwarded to them for up to one year. Mail won’t be forwarded to addresses outside of Japan.

References

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