If you’re visiting Japan for an extended period of time, you’re most likely planning to send mementos and postcards back to your family and friends. Sending souvenirs by mail could also help you pack much less in your suitcase when you make your way home.
Knowing how to properly send packages and postcards from Japan to other countries is essential to ensure nothing gets lost in transit, and to make sure you don’t get your mail returned.
Heading to a Japanese post office, especially if you are visiting a major city in Japan, offers you a unique opportunity to find one-of-a-kind postcards that are artistic and unique. You won’t be able to find postcards like this anywhere else in Japan.
These are worth picking up as mementos on their own, but they also allow you to send someone a beautiful postcard that they will cherish.
Many of them have designs inspired by what the region or city is famous for, as well as illustrations of Japanese food.
How To Fill Out The Envelope Or Postcard
You do not have to learn how to write in Japanese in order to send a postcard or package. If you write the address you’re sending in English, Japan Post will be able to send it to the right place with no issues.
You just want to ensure that you write “to:” beside the country you are sending it to along with the address to ensure it gets routed to the right location. You also want to write “air mail” in the bottom right corner of the postcard or package.
Where To Purchase Stamps
If you’re sending a postcard, you, of course, will have to purchase stamps. It would be wise to bring the postcards you are mailing out with you when purchasing stamps, in the rare event that you might have to buy a special stamp or multiple stamps to send the specific card out.
It is pretty easy to find stamps in all the typical places you would find them in any other country. This includes post offices, convenience, and corner stores, as well as souvenir shops. A stamp is called kitte in Japanese.
You also want to let the store attendant know which country you are sending your postcard to, as where you are shipping it to will determine what kind of stamp you have to purchase and how much it will cost.
Thankfully, stamps are relatively affordable in Japan.
Japanese mailboxes are unique in design, as they have two separate slots that you can place mail in. One of those slots is designated specifically for postcards.
You will easily be able to distinguish between the two slots, like the one for postcards is much smaller than the one for other types of mail.
If you accidentally put your mail into the wrong slot, rest assured it will not get returned. The post office will make sure your postcard gets to the right place.
Where Can You Find Japanese Mailboxes?
If you are able to reach a post office but don’t want to wait in line, since you already have your postcards ready to mail, there are mailboxes outside that you can easily slip your postcard into.
You can also send your postcards out of some convenience stores. You can bring your postcard there and they will send it out for you. However, they cannot answer any complicated questions about sending mail internationally.
There are also a couple of airports, including the Haneda and Narita airports, that have mailboxes suitable for sending out postcards. They are close to the entrance of the airport, so you will have to make sure you seek them out before you hit security because it’ll be hard to get back to this area.
The Post Office In Japan
When you want to mail something out of the post office in Japan, you will most likely have to wait in line. They have a numbered system set up to keep things organized and running smoothly.
You can purchase stamps to send out your postcards at the post office, and you can ask them for decorative stamps should you want one by asking them for kirei na kittei.
Many larger post offices have workers who speak multiple languages, so don’t be nervous about a potential language barrier.
A helpful tip is to write anything down that you might need to communicate, in case the postal worker you speak with has trouble understanding you and needs to pass your note to someone who can translate.
You want to be sure that you search up post offices near where you are staying to double-check their hours of operation.
There are some major offices that stay open later or are open on Saturdays, but the majority are open from 9-5 on weekdays.
If you’ve purchased a souvenir that you want to mail back to your home country, or at least somewhere outside of Japan, you will want to go to the post office to do this.
What you spend on shipping a package will depend on how you want the package sent, as well as how much the package weighs.
Some countries have weight limits for what packages you can send or receive, so be sure to ask the clerk working there about any potential limitations for what you can send home.
You will then be given a label to write down the shipping information. You can also buy insurance for your package to cover any potential losses or damages.
There is also the possibility that you can get a discount on shipping rates if you are sending multiple packages at once. The options for shipping include airmail, economy airmail, or surface mail.
Is There Anything That Can’t Be Mailed Overseas From Japan?
There might be slight variations for what your home country will or will not accept you mailing from Japan. There are also certain prohibited items that Japan will not let you ship outside of the country.
Some of the items that cannot be mailed are fairly obvious, including any type of drug or narcotic, live animals, or obscene media or materials.
There are also some items that are dangerous to mail out, including flammable materials including matches, lighters, fireworks, and anything containing compressed gas or oxygen.
Anything that can explode, be used as a weapon or to power a weapon, anything that could harm a person or cause them to get ill (acids, pathogens, etc.), or anything that could become toxic if punctured or damaged, is not allowed to be sent by mail.
There are also some items that contain toxic or dangerous substances that, while they may not be something you would be considering sending out, it’s still good to know just in case for some reason, your souvenirs contain some of these items.
Such items marked as containing dangerous substances include batteries, mercury, peroxidative agents, or radium, for example.
You are also not allowed to send money or currency by mail, as well as precious metals that have not been processed or crafted into something, such as gold or platinum.
If you have something a little more specific you want to send out, you can always ask at the postal office before you package it up and try to mail it.