Created for expats living in Japan

Japan Post Office Tips: Finding your Way

Have you ever needed to mail something or pick up a package while living in Japan? Like in most of the rest of the world, Japan has an efficient postal system with 24,000 post offices scattered all over the country to meet mailing needs. The Japanese Postal System also offers a number of financial services, some of which are exceedingly convenient to visitors from abroad.

Finding a Post Office (or postal box)

Finding a post office is easy. Just look for the above symbol to identify a post office. They are always displayed in visible locations on the exterior of any post office. They also mark postal boxes where letters with appropriate stamps can be dropped off.

If you ever need to find a post office and don’t see the above symbol anywhere, you can always ask a friendly passerby or a police officer. Just say: “Yûbinkyoku wa doko desu ka?” (Yûbinkyoku means a Post Office). They will certainly be able to point you in the right direction.

Services offered by the Post Office

The postal system offers numerous services that are useful to both Japanese and non-Japanese alike. They accept credit cards, E-money and Mobile payments except for revenue stamps, lottery tickets, cash on delivery postal items, customs duty on taxable postal items.

Postal Services

Domestic Mailing

Like anywhere in the world, standard domestic mailing is the core function of the post office. Letters, packages, and parcels can be sent via several classes of mail, most notably standard or express to any address in the country. If you would like to send a parcel, this article also may help you.

International Mailing

Letters can be sent internationally. Rates for letters sent by airmail to other counties range from 110yen for standard sized envelopes going anywhere in the world.

EMS: Express Mail Service is an insured international parcel mailing service that allows delivery of packages and parcels to any location on earth. It uses computerized tracking to keep you updated on the status of your package through the shipping process. Rates for EMS are fairly reasonable and start around 1,500yen for the smallest packages going to somewhere in Asia and up to nearly 80,000yen for 30 kilograms going to South America or Africa.

Commemorative and Special Stamps

Commemorative and special stamps are issued every month. You can see what is currently available here. You can purchase stamps by choosing from a catalogue at a counter of the post office.

Local Postcards

Local postcards are made for each prefecture in Japan, with designs of region's famous food, sightseeing spots or historical things etc. You can normally find them at a post office's counter. If you would like to see the designs from all over Japan, visit here. You can also search by prefecture on this page.

Financial Services

Savings Accounts

The Japan Post Bank offers standard savings accounts to any resident of Japan. Foreigners can open and use Postal Savings accounts as long as they can show a residency card.

ATM Services

ATM is One of the most useful services offered by the Japanese postal service are 24 hour ATMs at nearly every location that accept most international debit and credit cards. English language menus are offered on the ATMs so they are very accessible.

Various Payments

When you receive a postal transfer form, you can pay at a post office - either via ATM or at a counter.

Temporary Luggage Storage Service

Japan Post offers "Temporary Luggage Storage Service". They can keep your shopping bags, clothes, musical instruments and luggage so that you don't have to look for a coin locker any more! This service is available in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Kyoto. Go to the link above to find more details.

A Delivery Notice (if you missed your parcel / registered mail)

If you miss a parcel or registered letter delivered by the Post Office, you fill find a Delivery Notice (see the image below). You can find the tracking number on the note.

Please call the number below to request a redelivery. You can choose the date and hours that you would like them to redeliver.

TEL: 0570 – 046 -111 (English)
Monday - Friday:   8:00 - 21:00
Saturday - Sunday: 9:00 - 21:00

If you can read Japanese, you can also request a redelivery via Internet.

Japanese Address Format

The Japanese Address System is not organized based on street name and number and houses, and buildings are not in any sort of numerically increasing order. In fact, it can seem quite random and makes finding a particular location quite challenging if you’re not familiar with the area or don’t have a map. 

Please refer to "Japanese Addresses: How to Read, Write, Say & Understand Them" for further information.

Going to the Post Office

While it seems like going to a post office in Japan might be intimidating, the good news is that they are relatively accessible to the non-Japanese speaker. Almost all of the forms and instructions at the post office have English as well as Japanese versions and there should be English labels indicating the services provided at each counter.

If you would like to forward your mails, please read "Mail Forwarding in Japan: Domestic and International Options".

Also, note that service at the post office is based on a ticket/number system where you take a ticket and then go to the counter when your number is displayed. Be sure you take the ticket for the correct counter where you need service (stamps, parcel pick-up, etc.).