Whether it’s to send a postcard from your travels or a box full of goodies to your friends back home, you’re bound to need to visit the post office while you’re living in Japan. It can be difficult to find English-speaking staff, so it’s best to go equipped with some Japanese phrases to use for the post office.
Read on to learn more!
Post offices, or 郵便局 yūbinkyoku, in Japan are a great service, but they aren’t the most English-friendly places. As mentioned, it can be hard to find English-speaking staff and you won’t find a lot of English at most post offices in Japan.
To help make it less of a bewildering experience, here are some Japanese words that you might need.
手紙 tegami – letter
葉書 hagaki – postcard
封筒 fūtō – envelope
切手 kitte – stamp
小包 kozutsumi – package
箱 hako – box
壊れ物 kowaremono – fragile goods
追跡番号 tsuisekibangō – tracking number
普通郵便 futsūyūbin – ordinary mail
船便 funabin – surface mail (by ship)
航空便 kōkūbin – airmail
速達 sokutatsu – special/express delivery e.g. urgent mail,
国際スピード郵便 kokusaisupi-doyūbin – Express Mail Service (EMS)
Note: you would normally use surface mail (the cheapest option), airmail (the main option) or EMS (fastest but most expensive option) to send post and parcels overseas.
Note that from January 1, 2021 you need to print out your package label for international packages, rather than write the label out by hand. Visit the official Japan Post website for more information.
The form will be in English if you access through the English website, but it’s always good to know some Japanese words that you’ll commonly see anyway.
氏名 shimei – full name
電話番号 denwabangō – phone number
郵便番号 yūbinbangō – postal code
ご依頼主の住所 goirainushi no jūsho – sender’s address
ご届け先の住所 gotodoke saki no jūsho – recipient’s address
Naiyōhin no shōsai na kisai
Detailed description of contents (of package)
内容品の個数 naiyōhin no kosū – number of items
正味重量 shōmijūryō – net weight
価格 kakaku – value/price/cost
Japanese phrases for the post office
If you have everything packaged up already and you just want to send it off, you can say to the staff:
Kore o okuritain desu ga, ～ made onegaishimasu.
I would like to send this, please send to ～ (the name of the country, or prefecture/city if you want to send within Japan).
To get more specific, you can say:
Kōkūbin de okuritai no desu ga.
I would like to send by airmail please.
If you want to double-check the price, say:
Sumimasen, kore kōkūbin de okuruto ikura gurai kakarimasuka?
Excuse me, how much approximately would this be to send by airmail?
If that’s too much of a mouthful, you can also say:
Sōryō wa ikura desuka?
How much is shipping?
Or if you want to double-check how long it’ll take to arrive:
Kōkūbin nara dono gurai jikan ga kakarimasuka?
Around how long will it take to arrive by airmail?
If you’re sending a letter or postcard and need a stamp, you can say:
Kitte o kudasai.
A stamp please.Note that the counter for stamps is 枚 mai. For more about how to count in Japanese, read our article on Japanese counters.
For example, you would say:
Hachijūyon-en kitte o ni mai kudasai.
Two 84 yen stamps please.
You can also use this same structure to ask for a box if you haven’t already packaged up your parcel e.g.
Hako o onegaishimasu.
A box please.
But we would recommend you package your parcel before you arrive at the post office as their range of packaging can be limited.
While the process of using a post office in Japan can be daunting for the first time, the Japanese you need for the post office isn’t difficult. The staff tend to be very helpful when they see you’re a foreigner and you’ll get the hang of it once you use the post office a few times. If in doubt, ask a Japanese friend if they can help you get the hang of things!
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