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MailMate Handles Mail for Expats, Akiya Owners and Businesses

No more struggling with your Japanese mail tasks.

By 5 min read

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a notification from the city office—with no clue about its contents? Welcome to the world of handling your mail as an expat in Japan. Unless you have many international penpals, more often than not, your mailbox will contain notices from the local city office and bills from utility companies. With little exception, this mail is entirely in Japanese, which poses a challenge for expats.

Do you have lots of kind-hearted Japanese friends? Then, by all means, you can ask them for help translating the latest notification you’ve received in your mailbox. Alternatively, there are translation apps where you scan a portion of the Japanese text, providing you with a sometimes accurate translation.

Both these methods, however, rely on the availability of a Japanese friend or your own patience at key moments when you need help fast. Enter MailMate, Japan’s first bilingual virtual mailbox service specifically created for expats, akiya (unoccupied house) owners, and businesses.

What is MailMate?

Streamline your important paperwork in Japan.

Founded in 2019 in Tokyo, MailMate provides several postal services focused on solving issues that foreigners frequently face when living or doing business in Japan. To use the MailMate service, individuals forward their mail to MailMate’s headquarters using Japan Post’s mail forwarding service (change of address notification form). Once MailMate receives the mail, it scans and uploads it to a private online dashboard. Users can access this dashboard from any device.

Once logged in to the MailMate dashboard, users can quickly take action on the mail they receive. A series of buttons are visible with each mail item, representing actions such as opening, archiving, tagging, forwarding, replying, shredding, requesting translation summaries and paying bills. The dashboard is similar enough to Gmail or any other email provider that users can intuitively find their way around without a learning curve.

“MailMate is like having a mail-savvy, bilingual friend who doesn’t get tired of your endless envelopes,” says John Cross MailMate’s team lead.

Since many expats go home for the holidays or spend part of the year traveling, another problem MailMate solves is paying bills at the local convenience store. This means no more worrying about unpaid utility bills while you take that extended trip! MailMate’s bill payment feature works like this: Say you receive a notification that an electricity bill has arrived. By clicking on the “pay bill” option, a MailMate representative will go to the convenience store and pay the bill on your behalf.

All digital data in MailMate’s systems are SSL encrypted. Per Japan’s regulations, hard mail copies are preserved for seven years. After that period, these can be shredded or forwarded at your request.

Mail Handling for Akiya Owners, Businesses, and Enterprises

Perhaps you can read Japanese just fine and don’t need translation summaries? MailMate’s usefulness isn’t just for newbie expats.

Case in point, meet some of MailMate’s user profiles:

  • Akiya and Vacation Homeowners: Second-property homeowners can appoint MailMate as their tax agent for settling property tax bills and as a liaison for water and utility companies.
  • Individuals Leaving Japan Temporarily or Permanently: Expats leaving Japan temporarily or forever can continue to access and take action on bills and city office notices no matter where they are.
  • Business Owners: MailMate provides business owners with 5-star reputable addresses for use on company incorporation papers. Add-ons include a Japanese bilingual receptionist service and a bilingual assistant service.
  • Enterprise Branches: For enterprises that want an instant presence in Japan, MailMate’s virtual business addresses in Kyoto, Tokyo, and Fukuoka are the cost-effective way to start growing fast.

Currently, MailMate’s software and service is only available in English and Japanese. In the future, MailMate plans to provide translation summaries in Spanish, French, Chinese and many other languages.

MailMate’s Bilingual Suite of Services

Your own simple, virtual mail assistant.

While MailMate started as a bilingual virtual mail provider, additional features were added to accommodate user requests over time, as evidenced by the previously mentioned use cases. These features include virtual office solutions for businesses looking to expand to Japan and akiya owners needing mail handling and tax agent service for their second property.

Users can pick and choose from the following add-on services as the need arises:

  • Virtual mailbox service
  • Translation summaries of Japanese mail
  • Bill payment services
  • Business addresses for company registration
  • Japanese phone numbers
  • Bilingual live phone receptionists
  • Tax agent services for akiya owners
  • Receipt and invoice management, compliant with Japan’s Electronic Record Retention Law

How to Open a MailMate Account

Manage your Japanese mail from anywhere in the world.


Registration is simple. Here’s a step-by-step that will get you up and running fast:

  • Step 1: Go to MailMate.jp and create a free account.
  • Step 2: Book a demo call with an English-speaking MailMate rep. During this call, you’ll see the dashboard, get your questions answered, and learn about your options.
  • Step 3: Sign up and purchase the right plan for you.
  • Step 4: Forward your mail to MailMate HQ.
  • Step 5: Manage your Japanese mail from the comfort of—anywhere!

Outsourcing mail handling is a service type gaining in popularity in Japan, as virtual mailbox software provides new ways for Japanese businesses to combat labor shortages, reduce business costs, stay compliant, and digitalize operations.

Whether you’re an expat, akiya owner, or business executive, finding new ways to optimize your mail and business processes can help you efficiently utilize the latest digital transformation trends to automate and remotely manage your mail.

For more information, see MailMate’s official website.

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