Archives for the day Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Postal service in Japan

 In the previous entry titled “History of Mail box“, I wrote that Britain was the first country that came up with mailing system,and after Britain, Japan got their mailing system and therefore, the mail box is the same red color like Britain’s.

 I also wrote that some of the mail box in Japan is rectangle shaped red mail box. According to wikipedia (written in Japanese),
Japanese pillar box nowadays is more colorful in particular city to
make the characteristic of city stands out.

 For example,one city is
famous for maccha (green tea),and their mail box is light green color.
Kobe’s mail box is light blue color for ocean.And one area of Tokyo has
sister city in US; Portland,OR,USA and so they built American style
blue mail box in the city to cerebrate 10th anniversary for the

 In France,mail box is yellow.You can see the picture of
those on Wikipedia (written in Japanese).

 When you look for public mail boxes or post office buildings in Japan, you can look for the Japanese postal mark on the public mail box and post office buildings. The mark looks like T and there is upper line on top of it;.

 This Japanese postal marks can be found on postcards and envelopes as well as postal code mark. Usually, right after the postal code mark, zip code follows.

 For example, busy area in Tokyo “Shibuya” postal code is 160-0022. Therefore, you would write 160-0022 on your postcard and envelope to mail to the address in the area.

 To send mail, postal mark and zip code comes on top and then, address follows but unlike American way; address be read from left to right, you will write address from top to down and address lines are read from top to down from right line to the left line in Japan.

 If you look around, post office vans and motorbikes also have this postal mark on it. It is very easy to spot them.

 In Japan,when you mail your
stuff,you either drop them into public mail box or visit post office.
Each house does have mail box to receive their mail box. It is usually
small box with flip top that is large enough to slide mail in to the
box.Newspaper carriers also put newspaper into individual mail box,too.

 To mail at public mail box, usually you would find 2 slots on top front and one slot for domestic,and the other for International, express mail, and irregular sized mail.

 Then, you can see the pick up time on side sticker. Usually, mail gets pick up 3-4 times a day.

  Postal service is one of culture shock stories for me or my
family back home in Japan. Here in the states,you can write letters and put it
in your own mail box outside and flag it up, and mailman comes and pick them up
to mail for you!

 It never happens in Japan. My parents were wowed to
find out we do not need to go to post office to mail small letters that
fits into our mail box to mail.

 In Japan, mailman ride
motorbike with mail in the mail container on its back. They don’t use
cars unless families had large boxes to be delivered. Maybe because motorbike is much convenient to ride through narrow
streets in Japan.

 America’s roads are very wide spread and spacey. I always
feel Japanese roads are narrow and crowded when we go back to Japan to
visit my family. 

 One other difference in postal service between US and Japan is that, Post office in Japan has banking service called “yu-u-cho”in Japanese and you can have checking/saving account with them.

 Also, Japanese post office offer life insurance plans too and, their overall service is more varied compared to American postal service.

 With Japanese postcards, if you have lived in Japan, you might have noticed, but there is one kind of postcards many Japanese families get excited for. It is called “Nen-ga-jyo” in Japanese and it is New Year’s postcard.

 In Japan, often time, many family start listing who they would send New Year’s Postcard for that year to thank and wish for happy new year from around end of November to December,and count the number of addresses and go buy the New Year postcards at the post office.

 Sometimes, if you were too late to come buy them, post office does not have special postcards for the New Year.

 What is so special about the New Year postcards?

 When you buy New Year’s post cards at post office,you can find the lottery number on the bottom. The postcard you buy are for you to mail to your family,friends or others such as colleagues who you want to thank for, for the year.

 When you get New Year postcards from friends,relatives etc.., keep them aside,and  on the specific day (mid/late Jan), you can look up the newspaper to see any of the numbers you got on the New Year postcards from your relatives/friends are matched to any prizes.

 Prize often times are not money, but rather products such as stamps, electronics and more.

 For example, for 2011 New Year’s postcard that were mailed in 2010, first prize was Sharp LED TV,trip to Hawaii or Hong Kong,or korea, $300-$500 worth gift cards,Toshiba PC, Digital camera,printer,electric bicycle or office supplies $2000 value from selected catalog.

 Second prize were Wii,Digital camera, air night stay in domestic hotel,or coffee maker.

 Third prize was food prizes.

 Fourth prize was stamp set.

 You can see more detailed prize at what Japan Think here.

 Post office would accept New year postcard from December and announce to public what date will be the deadline for New Year’s postcard to be mailed if you want to ensure the New Year post cards to be delivered on New Year’s Day.Usually, it is around Christmas time.

 Because of large volume of New Year postcards to be delivered, you would see that post office hire part timers to help them out.

 It is one of Japanese customs,and since the New Year postcards are white and no patterns on them unless you buy regular postcards at retail stores,which you would not have lottery number on, so my father used to pick designs we want with that year’s zodiac animal on it. Then,we kids draw pictures for friends with Happy New year message etc with zodiac animal ink stamp on, and mailed them.

 Here is one quick Japanese lesson for you.

 In Japanese, when you want to say “Happy New Year!”, You would say..

“A-ke-ma-shi-te O-me-de-to-u Go-za-i-ma-su.”

 However, you are not suppose to mail the New Year postcards to family that are in mourning.

 Just like Chinese culture, we have zodiac signs in Japan and each year reflects one specific animal.Then, there are 12 zodiac animals signs.

 I believe 2012 is year of Dragon.So, if you live in Japan, you will be getting New Year Postcards with Dragon pictures on them on Jan 1,2012.

 It would be fun if America had similar custom like Japan; sending New Year cards to family,friends, colleague etc with lottery numbers on them. Not the e-card one click away, but a real card from friends and family with additional fun with prize chance every year will be fun.

 What are your thoughts on our New Year Postcard custom in Japan?

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Sep 20, 2011 | 0 | Uncategorized