10/02/2021

Overview of the Japanese Postal System

Moving to Japan can be overwhelming at first, especially with the difference in culture and language. Many things should be learned especially when it comes to logistics, and the Japan Post Service is one of them as it can make your coordination within and outside Japan easier.


Table of Contents

  1. All About Japan Post
  2. How to send mail and packages from Japan
  3. Japan Post Office Hours and Location
  4. Summary

All About Japan Post

Japan Post Co., Ltd. was established in 2007, and offers a variety of services such as buying stamps, shipping your postcards and letters, and sending and receiving your parcels and packages. It took over for what used to be a government-owned office in charge of processing, sorting, and delivering your mails anywhere in the country. The details and process of privatization are still being ironed out as of publication. Aside from mailing services, it also offers banking and life insurance services.

Scattered throughout Japan are around 24,000 post offices offering not only domestic and international postal services but also financial services like ATMs that are available in English.

※ Japan Post, "Corporate information"

Japan Post boxes can usually be found easily. Mailboxes in Japan are colored red and usually marked by the same symbol 〒 of Japan Post. It has two slots in which you can put your mail - one is for domestic mail, and the other is for international mail so make sure to use the right one. You can also check the post box itself for when they will come to pick up the mail.

Below is some information on the basic services you can get at the post office and how to send parcels and packages.

Basic Services Offered by Japan Post

As said, there are a lot of things that a Japan Post offers. But one thing that you would notice is that they focus on selling a variety of stamps. More on that below.

1. Handling your mail

This is the Japan Post’s biggest service. They receive and send your packages, letters, and postcards. There are two kinds of mailing – domestic mail and international mail. Charges differ based on the type of shipping, destination, and weight.

2. Delivery

If you missed your delivery, it is usually kept in the office for 15 days. You can either pick it up (if they offer that service) or you can ask to have it redelivered via the slip they leave at your door.

3. Stamps

Japan Post sells a wide variety of stamps - from typical floral designs to seasonal to characters - which can also be bought in sets. 

4. Life Insurance 

Japan Post also offers life insurance, called Kanpo Seimei Hoken in Japanese. They have counters for this in the post office as well.

5. Banking

Japan Post has their own banking system called Yucho in Japanese. The ATMs in the Japanese post office and around the country can be used in depositing and withdrawing money.

How to send mail and packages from Japan

Japan Postal Services – Local

Standard Mail Services

Standard mail services include letters and postcards. Standard postcard costs about 63 yen. The size and weight of both letters and postcards are also considered.

Letter Pack

This is a service good for sending parcels from A4 sizes up to 4kg which can also be posted in post boxes. Usually, the rate for a letter pack is 370 or 520 yen all throughout Japan. When you use the letter pack service, there is an assurance with tracking service and can be delivered to the person face-to-face or put in their mailbox depending on what you choose.

Registered Mail

There are three types of registered mail:

  1. Ordinary registered mail: Ordinary registered mail means that it is being recorded from acceptance to delivery and if there’s damage, compensation is offered. The usage fee for ordinary registered mail is +435 yen added to the basic rate plus it is insured up to 100,000 yen.

  2. Currency registration: Exclusively used in sending money or cash. Usually, the envelope used is a ceremonial envelope in which you can also send a congratulatory gift of money. The rate for the currency registration is +435 yen added to the basic rate plus insured up to 10,000 yen. 

  3. Simplified registration: The simplified registration has lower postage compared to both ordinary and currency registration. It has a rate of +320 yen added to the basic rate and is insured up to 50,000 yen.

Please note that there are advantages to using registered mail. First, the redelivery is on the same day and free of charge. Second, there is holiday delivery – even on Sundays. Third, you can also have your preferred time of redelivery. And lastly, you can track your mail via an online network system using the acceptance number.

Express Mail

Japan Post office offers express mail options for letters, postcards, and parcels that you would want to deliver quickly. Usually, express mail is delivered the next day.

Japan Post

Japan Postal Services – International

EMS

The Express Mail Service or what we called EMS is the most expensive mailing service in Japan Post. However, whenever you choose this service your postal items can be delivered in 2-4 days to any place in the world.

Letters and Postcards

Two types of sending letters; standard-sized mail and non-standard sized mail. Only weighing up to 2kg can be sent. International postcards have two types of shipping - the surface mail and airmail. The surface mail has a rate of 60 yen while airmail is 70 yen to any part of the world.

Parcels

In sending and mailing general goods internationally, you can choose the international parcel post. Know that there are three types of shipping parcels - airmail, surface mail, and the economy air. The maximum weight of the parcel is 30kg but this might differ in some other countries. Also, they offer 10% to 20% discounts and rates may vary depending on the country and also the weight of the parcel.

Japan Post Office Hours and Location

The following are the usual hours of the offices;

  • Local offices, 9:00 - 17:00

  • District offices, 9:00 - 19:00

  • Central Offices, 9:00 - 21:00

Local offices are usually closed during weekends and holidays. Please check to see which larger district or central post offices are located near you. Central offices have a 24/7 service meant for picking up and/or dropping off mail/packages. 

If you want to know the closest central or district office to where you currently are, or to find any post office in general, downloading the Japan Post Office Navigation app is recommended.

Summary

The Japanese post system is very helpful. A lot of services are offered – may it be sending or mailing letters, parcels, and packages or even in banking and insurance. Japan Post both offers services locally and internationally. The rates would only differ on shipping fees and destinations of the letters and packages. Moreover, the Japanese postal system is claimed to be one of the best all over the world. So, go on and post your mail now.

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