Japanese Post Box: How to Use Japan Post For Your Mail Needs

Japanese Post Box: How to Use Japan Post For Your Mail Needs

Sending mail in Japan can be simple as it is simpler than sending items internationally from Japan

Japan Post and the Japanese post box system is quite amazing in handling letters, mail, parcels, and other items within a couple of days.

So today, this article covers everything you need to know about sending domestic mail with the Japanese post box and other alternatives to consider.

What is the Japanese post box?

Common Japanese post boxes

Common Japanese post boxes

A Japanese post box is a red mailbox for mail in Japan. These post boxes are very recognizable by their bright red color and the 〒 symbol representing Japan's postal system.

You may see the regular Japanese post boxes decorated on the outside to reflect the season or holiday. Other times, you will see a special Japanese post box design.

Special Japanese post boxes

Special Japanese post boxes

Lighten your mental load
Spend less time struggling with language barriers. Get all your Japanese mail handled with Japan's #1 bilingual virtual mail service. Starts from only $25.✨
By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Handling of Personal Information.

Japan Post mail and packaging

Japan Post mail and packaging

Japan Post has many types of mail and packages to accommodate items people may send each other. For all these items, you can write the address by hand. 

  • Regular mail (封筒, fuutou)

  • Letters (手紙, tegami)

  • Postcards (葉書, hagaki)

  • Letter Pack (レターパック, letaa pakku): a cardboard envelope for A4-sized items under 4kg. There are two versions, both tracking capabilities. 

    • Letter Pack Plus (レターパックプラス): For items up to 4 kg, costs 520 yen and guarantees in-person delivery.

    • Letter Pack Light (レターパックライト): For items up to 4 kg, costs 370 yen and allows Japanese post box drop-offs.

  • Yu-Pack (ゆうパック, yuu-pakku): for larger parcels up to 25-30 kg, with special options for ski equipment and airport delivery. Tracking varies. 

  • Chilled Pack (チルドゆうパック, chirudo yūpakku): for chilled and frozen items.

  • Yu-Mail (ゆうメール, yuu meeru): for domestically sending books, printed materials, and CDs/DVDs.

  • Registered Mail (書留,  kakitome): for safe delivery of important documents and valuables. It will provide delivery proof and any compensation lost.

  • Cash on Delivery or COD (着払い, chakubarai): For the receipt to pay for the item shipment when it is delivered.

You can also request express delivery (速達郵便, sokutatsu yuubin). If not, mail will be delivered normally (普通郵便, futsuu yuubin).

Additionally, Japan Post can handle international shipping with their EMS (Express Mail Service) and the ePackets. When sending items internationally, you will need a printed label. 

How to send mail in Japan

Sending mail from a Japanese post box

Japanese post box slots explained.

Japanese post box slots explained.

Most Japanese post boxes will have two slots to insert the items you want to send.

The left side is for regular or small mail, such as letters and postcards. The right side is for larger envelopes, Letter Packs, and international mail.

On these Japanese post boxes, they will have a mail collection time. The last mail collection time is usually before 6 pm. 

Each item, except for the letter pack, will need to have prepaid stamps. You can use Japan Post’s postage calculator to calculate the exact amount.

However, try the next option if you have trouble with the calculations. 

Sending mail at the Japan Post Office

If you don't have stamps or are unsure about the postage price, the best option is to go directly to the Japan Post office.

I use this option whenever I send domestic letters and international parcels.

The staff will categorize and weigh the item you want to send. Once the price is determined, you will pay for that postage. 

Inside of a Japan Post office

Inside of a Japan Post office | Image via MyTravelGeno

Larger Japan Post offices will have a number-ticketed system, so take one when you arrive. Otherwise, it will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Also, larger offices are open on the weekend within limited hours. For more information, check the information for your nearest Japan Post office. 

These Japanese post offices will have specialty items, including stamps, letters, envelopes, and year-end gifts to buy. 

Sending mail from a convenience store

If there is no Japanese post box or office near you, stop by a Lawson to send your mail. 

In 2003, Lawson Inc. partnered with the Postal Services Agency to have mailboxes at their conbini stores. This partnership allows you to drop off your mail at a Lawson, just like a regular Japanese post box. 

A Japanese post box at a Lawson

A Japanese post box at a Lawson | Image via Tokukita.jp

Plus, you can buy stamps at any Japanese convenience store for your letters or postcards.

How do I receive Japanese mail?

There are many ways to receive mail in Japan. Most of the time, it will be placed in your mailbox. However, certain mail items need the receiver’s signature to indicate that you have received them.

If you are not in Japan and want to view your Japanese mail online, consider MailMate!

MailMate

MailMate en homepage

When MailMate receives your mail, you will get an email or Slack notification of its arrival. As a virtual mailbox service, your mail will be scanned into your dashboard for your online viewing.

You can open, forward, and shred your mail from here upon your request. MailMate will even pay your utility bills when you are away from Japan.

Stop struggling with your Japanese mail!
Get all your Japanese mail handled and conbini bills paid with Japan's #1 bilingual virtual mail service. Starts from only $25/mo.✨
By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Handling of Personal Information.

Other options include cash on delivery, parcel lockers, PO boxes, convenience store pickup services, or requesting redelivery.

Japan Post Redelivery

JapanPost's attempted delivery notice slip

JapanPost's attempted delivery notice slip

For any mail that needs a signature, such as the Letter Pack Plus or Yu-Pack items, and you are not home, the delivery person will slip a redelivery paper into your mailbox. 

This notice will have a QR code to scan to reschedule a redelivery. Pick a convenient date and time for the delivery person to return. 

Sending international mail from Japan

Handwritten labels are allowed on international letters and postcards from Japan. The format should follow the international address format.

How to send international mail visas air mail

How to send international mail visas air mail | Image via Japan Post

However, sending packages from Japan is largely different. The main difference is that you will need a printed international parcel label. Additionally, Japan Post offers three international parcel services: EMS, AIR, and SAL,each with different costs depending on the parcel’s destination. 

Bring the printed label, your package, and a list of items in Japanese and English you send to your nearest Japan Post office. The staff will handle everything from there.

If you don’t have a box, Japan Post will provide one for you at an additional cost of the box.

Frequently asked questions

What items can be sent internationally from Japan?

Many things can be sent internationally, including large and small packages, letters and postcards, and even chilled items can be sent internationally

What items can not be sent internationally from Japan?

The universal standard for what you can not send internationally is spray bottles, nail polish, perfume, fireworks, electronic cigarettes, and any products containing over 24% alcohol, including alcohol, sunblock, and hair tonic. Additionally, each country will have a specific list of items that are prohibited from being imported. 

What is Japan Post?

Japan Post is Japan’s official postal system and a major logistics service provider. It operates with Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance, offering great mail, parcel delivery, banking, and insurance services.

In closing 

Using a Japanese post box isn’t complicated when you know which slot to use. Plus, if you are ever struggling, you can stop by your local post office for the staff to help you send a letter, postcard, and parcel domestically and internationally.

About MailMate! 📬
Never miss a mail or package ever again. Your virtual mailbox is waiting for you.
By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Handling of Personal Information.

Spending too long figuring out your Japanese mail?

Virtual mail + translation services start at 3800 per month. 30-day money-back guarantee.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Handling of Personal Information.
Mailmate mascot