Life Abroad

Mail Services

Whether it’s a post-card chronicling your adventures or a goofy birthday card for a friend back home, we all need to mail stuff once in a while.

Here you can learn about the Japan Postal Service and the mail services available in Japan, domestic and international. You can even learn how to write Japanese addresses in Japanese on anything you have to mail.

Select a category from the left or scroll down to see the whole list, with descriptions in English.

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Domestic mail services


Standard Mail Services (letter, postcard)

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-Regular postcard (¥52)
-Reply-paid postcard (¥104)
-New year’s card (¥52)
-Standard letter

The link below provides information direct from the Japan Postal Service regarding Domestic Mail.
English source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/standard/index_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/standard/index.html

Letter Pack

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Letter Pack is a service for sending A4 size documents up to 4kg anywhere in Japan for a fixed price.
Tracking is available. Letter Packs can be mailed directly at the Post Office and through mail boxes that have a wide slot. Some mail boxes do not have slots to accommodate Letter Packs.

The link below provides information direct from the Japan Postal Service regarding Letter Pack service.
English source: https://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/letterpack/index_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/letterpack/index.html



Yu-pack (parcel)

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There are a number of Yu-Pack services:
-Refrigerated Yu-Pack
-Same-day delivery Yu-Pack
-Auction Yu-Pack
-Golf and Ski Yu-Pack
-Airport Yu-Pack
The total height, width, and depth measurement should be under 1.7 meters (170cm).
The weight limit is 30 kg.

The link below provides information direct from the Japan Postal Service regarding Yu-Pack services.
English source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/you_pack/use_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/letterpack/index.html

Registered Mail

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-Standard Registered Mail This service registers and tracks receipt at the post office to receipt at destination, and insures the sent item for actual loss.
-Currency Registration This is a service for mailing money.
-Simplified Registration This service does not provide tracking or a tracking number, so it is cheaper than Standard Registered Mail, though actual loss up to \50,000 is insured.

The link below provides information direct from the Japan Postal Service regarding Registered Mail.
English source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/kakitome/index_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/kakitome/

Domestic Express mail

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Letters, Postcards, and other small packages can be sent via Domestic Express Mail.
There is also a new Special Express Mail for same-day delivery (available in certain areas).

The link below provides information direct from the Japan Postal Service regarding Domestic Express Mail.
English source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/sokutatsu/index_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/sokutatsu/

Delivery Date-Specified Mail

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Mail can be delivered on a date (including weekends) you designate through this service.

The link below provides information direct from the Japan Postal Service regarding Delivery Date-Specified Mail. It also includes information on what can be sent and how much it costs.
English source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/shitei/index_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/shitei/

International Mail


Shipping Labels

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Filling out International Shipping labels
When shipping internationally, don’t forget to fill out the following sections:

FROM: write a sender's name, address, postal code, and country.

TO: write a recipient's name, address, postal code, and country.

When you ship internationally, you need to write the content of the package (each item inside) and the price of each.
Below is a sample of a completed shipping label.
English source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/use/writing/ems_en.html

Japanese source:http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/use/writing/ems.html

Checking Fee and Delivery Days

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The link below provides an International Express Mail rates and estimated delivery date calculator.

English source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/cgi-charge/index.php?lang=_en

Japanese source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/cgi-charge/


Express Mail Service (EMS)

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EMS is an international express mail service that ships to more than 120 countries.
Perishable / Refrigerated shipment is also available when shipping to Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and France.

When shipping a perishable item, be sure to check the regulations at the link below. There are strict rules and laws about what can and cannot be shipped.

English source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/ems/index_en.html

Japanese source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/ems/index.html

Letter

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When sending a letter, rates will be determined by size and weight.

The link below provides information on Standard-sized Mail and Nonstandard-sized mail.
English source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/service/letter_en.html

Japanese source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/service/letter.html

Postcard

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Air Mail postage for postcards is ¥70 to anywhere in the world.
Before mailing a postcard via Air Mail, please check the size limitations below.

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  English source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/service/postcard_en.html

  Japanese source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/service/postcard.html

International Parcel Post

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There are three shipping types: Airmail, Surface mail (Ocean freight/ shipping by boat) and Economy Air (SAL).
The following link compares the three shipping types: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/service/dispatch/index_en.html

This is the comparing shipping types: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/service/dispatch/index_en.html

You can check rates and estimated delivery dates below.
English source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/cgi-charge/index.php?lang=_en

Japanese source: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/cgi-charge/



Addressing Postcards and Envelopes


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Writing an address in Japanese can be tedious at best, and end disastrously at worst. We have compiled an easy-to-follow guide to help you.



Postcards

First, let’s go over postcards. There are two general types. Standard blank postcards can be purchased at any convenience store or stationery store. You can also purchase proprietary cardstock to print your own postcards.


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Whether you purchase or print your postcard, you will have to address it at some point. Here is an example of what that will look like:


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To the untrained eye, this is just a mess of disorganized kanji characters in a puzzle-like configuration. The following image and explanations will help you make sense of how addressing should be done.


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  1. When writing the recipient address, leave about one character’s worth of space between the post code and the first character of the address. If the address is too long, you can extend it to a second line. Be sure to indent two characters’ worth of space on the second line.

  2. When writing the recipient’s name, the character size should be roughly double the size of the address characters. Finally, leave a space between the end of the name and 様.

  3. The characters in the sender’s name and address should be the same size, however, spacing rules still apply. When indenting a long address, leave two characters’ worth of space on the indented line, and leave a space between the first and last names. The end of the name should also be in line with the end of the address.

In the event you have to address an envelope to more than one person, it should be formatted as below:


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The given names should start at the same level, and the 様 should end at the same level, even if the given names are of different lengths.



Envelopes

When addressing an envelope, the rules for the recipient’s name and address are the same as above. The sender’s name and address, however, should go on the back of the envelope. Finally, a simple X (or 〆) mark should be drawn over the sealed envelope flap to assure the recipient that their envelope has not been opened:


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Formal Addresses Instead of 様

When addressing an envelope, 様 is not always used. There are many cases when a different form of official address is used in 様’s place. The table below explains situations in which the following should be used instead of 様.


Kanji How to read Meaning / When to use
sama When sending to one or two people.
御中 onchuu When sending to a company, hospital, school, or other type of business or organization.
各位 kakui When sending to a large group of people, such as a group’s entire membership or an entire team.
iki This is the default that will appear in the formal address placement on pre-printed or pre-written envelopes (for the purpose of sending documentation back etc.). It is the responsibility of the sender of the pre-printed envelope to cross this out and replace it with the appropriate address from this chart. Example: On a pre-printed envelope from your bank requesting you to send documents for review, cross out 行 with two diagonal slashes and write 御中 either beside or below it.
ate This is the same as 行 above, but when sending to a single person rather than an organization or company.
ご一同様 Goichidou sama When sending to an entire company, organization, or family.


The Mailing Process

Mailing your postcard or envelope is quite easy. You can opt to either drop your mail into a public mailbox or take it inside the post office directly. If you opt for a mailbox, you will notice that most Japanese mailboxes have different slots indicated for different types of mail. Many mailboxes have English available, but some (such as in the countryside) may not.

Slots indicated for small letters and postcards will be labeled with 手紙・はがき. Larger envelopes may be placed in the larger その他郵便物. If you are not sure of the postage required, it is always better to stop inside the post office and mail your item directly.


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If you cannot find a mailbox nearby, your local Lawson convenience store will have a mailbox located near the front of the store.


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Important Times to Send or Not Send Certain Postcards

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1. 年賀状(ねんがじょう)Nengajou
年賀状 are traditional New Year’s cards sent to your friends, extended or married family members, and perhaps your coworkers. They are sent as well-wishes and good luck charms to welcome in the new year. It is generally seen as bad taste to not send 年賀状. 年賀状 can be given to your local post office any time in December, and they will be delivered on New Year’s Day.
If you receive a 年賀状 from someone you did not send one too, it is customary to send them one back the following year. However, if you receive a 喪中 (number 2 below), it is very important that you do NOT send a 年賀状 to that person or family.




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2. 喪中(もちゅう)Mochuu
喪中 are grief cards that are sent out to the people you typically receive 年賀状 from. The purpose of these cards is to inform the recipients that there has been a death in the family that year, so there is no need to send 年賀状 that year. It is considered very poor taste to send 年賀状 to a person or family from whom you have received 喪中, so it is important to adhere to this social norm.
If you are to receive one, it will be delivered between mid-November and early December, so you can begin planning your 年賀状 around mid-December.




Mail Vocabulary


Japanese romaji Function
はがき(ハガキ) hagaki Postcard
切手(きって) kitte stamp
エアメール Ea meeru Air Mail
航空便(こうくうびん) koukuubin Air Mail
小包(こづつみ) kozutsumi Small parcel
船便(ふなびん) hunabin Shipping by boat
日数(にっすう) nissuu Number of days
料金(りょうきん) ryoukin Fee/cost
厚さ(あつさ) atsusa Thickness
重さ(おもさ) omosa Weight
速達(そくたつ) sokutatsu Rapid delivery
郵便番号(ゆうびんばんごう) yuubin bangou Postal code/ zip code
郵便局(ゆうびんきょく) yuubinkyoku Post office
配達(はいたつ) haitatsu Delivery
配達日(はいたつび) haitatsubi Delivery date
国際郵便(こくさいゆうびん) Kokusai yuubin International mail
EMS - EMS (international express mail)
ラベル raberu Shipping label
書類(しょるい) shorui Documents
物品(ぶっぴん) buppin Goods
名前(なまえ) namae Name
住所(じゅうしょ) juusho Address
電話番号(でんわばんごう) Denwa bangou Phone number
差出人(さしだしにん) sashidashinin Sender
受取人(うけとりにん) uketorinin Recipient
お届け先(おとどけさき) otodokesaki Recipient address
内容(ないよう) naiyou Package contents
個数(こすう) kosuu Number of packages
価格(かかく) kakaku Value of contents
危険物(きけんぶつ) kikenbutsu Dangerous items
損害補償(そんがいほしょう) Songai hoshou Shipping insurance


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