Japan Post Offices & Japan Postal Information 郵便局
Japan has one of the best postal services in the world, some would claim the best.
The approximately 24,000 post offices in Japan offer a variety of services including the collection and sending of postal items such as letters, parcels, post cards, postal orders and registered mail both within Japan and overseas. Japanese post offices also offer banking and insurance.
The ATMs in Japanese post offices can be used to withdraw money using a foreign issued credit card or cash card. Look out for the green "International ATM Service" sign and choose the English "Visitor's Withdrawal" menu and instructions. You need your PIN (personal identification number) and can withdraw between 1,000 and 990,000 yen in cash depending on your credit limit. This service is an excellent way to withdraw money on your travels in Japan.
Japanese mailboxes are red with the Japanese post office symbol of a "T" with a bar over the top marked on it. Pick up times are marked on the box. There are usually two openings: one for domestic and the other for international mail.
Normal Japanese post offices are usually open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm for mail and Monday-Friday 9am-4pm for other services such as insurance, banking, postal orders and bill payments. Local post offices are closed at weekends and national holidays.
However, each city's central post office (中央郵便局), usually located near the main railway station will have a 24/7 counter. Typically central post offices are open Monday-Friday 9am-7pm, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 9am-12.30pm. Outside those hours an all-night window operates until the post office reopens fully the next day.
District post offices, one per ward (ku), also maintain an after-hours window for nighttime pick-up and posting. Typical hours are Monday-Friday 9am-7pm, Saturday 9am-3pm.
Japan Postal Services & Charges
Current charges for postcards sent within Japan are 52 yen (70 yen overseas airmail; 60 yen surface mail); standard size letters up to 25g are 80 yen (usually 110 yen to most destinations overseas). A full listing of postal charges and services in English is given on Japan Post's website.
Sokutatsu (速達) is express mail and is usually delivered the next day. Registered mail is kakidome (書留) and is insured and can be traced, genkinkakitome (現金書留) is a way to send cash in a registered envelope (genkinkakitome futo, cost 20 yen) that is signed for or stamped by the recipient. You will receive a green and white receipt with the tracking number on it. Kan-i kakitome is a simplified and cheaper version of the above. Shin tokkyu yubin is a special delivery service available in central areas of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo where you can phone in to the post office and have a pick up before noon and delivery within the same city by 5pm.
Japan Post's registered parcel service (EMS) for overseas parcels, up to 30kg in weight and no more than 150cm in length, is an excellent way to ship overseas. Deliveries can be insured and traced online using a 13-digit tracking code. Final delivery notification by email is also possible. For home pick up, phone the freefone number 0120 950 333 and type in your 7-digit post code. The service operates 9am-7pm daily including weekends.
The Yu-Pack service is for domestic mail and allows the sender to send registered, trackable parcels or letters throughout Japan. Again the weight limit for normal Yu-Pack is 30kg and the length limit is 170cm. Special Yu-Pack services include Yu-Pack for refrigerated goods, skis and golf clubs and goods sent to airports.
Expack500 is a special trackable service for business mail costing only 500 yen. The size limit is slightly larger than A4 (248 x 340mm) and the items are sent in a special Expack500 hard envelope.
Parcels or mail that have not been delivered because no one was at home are kept at the delivery post office for 15 days. Mail subject to customs duties is kept for one month. A white card is normally left with a number to call or a URL to access to arrange for re-delivery. The card will specify the name of the delivery person and the type of mail that Japan Post was attempting to deliver.
Japan Post also provides a forwarding service when you move house. Contact your local post office and complete a simple form.
It is possible to send money overseas from your post office to a number of countries for a current fee of 2,500 yen per international transfer. You will need proof of identity such as a driving license or Zairyu (Residence) Card. You pay in yen and the payment is made to the recipient at that day's exchange rate.
Japanese ornamental post box in Hikone showing Hikone Castle
Post Code Searches
All Japanese addresses have a seven-digit post code which is traditionally written at the beginning of the address, followed by the prefecture （ken 県), city （shi 市), ward (ku 区) and then the sub-areas (cho 町 and chome 丁目) and the name of the building if it has one and finally the name of the person - traditionally surname first.
There are a number of different online post code search services for Japanese addresses in Japanese unless stated otherwise. See a list of all the Tokyo post codes and places names in English and Japanese.
Japanese post offices stock a selection of new issue stamps which can be purchased in sets. Special sets include stamps issued to commemorate events such as the 2002 World Cup, for example, and stamps featuring aspects of Japanese culture including anime and manga. Japanese stamps come in denominations of 10 yen, 50 yen, 80 yen, 90 yen, 120 yen and 300 yen.
Useful Phone Numbers
Customer Service Number Tel: 0120 5931 55 (Toll free)
English: Tel: 0570 046111
From Mobile Phones: Tel: 0570-046-666
EMS Pick Up Tel: 0120 950 333