How to Send a Letter in Japan

In this era of Social Media and email, a letter gives a special feeling to send and receive one. Why don’t you write a letter to a friend you haven’t seen in a while? This article will show you how to write a letter in Japan.

Where can I find a letter-writing set?

Letter writing sets are sold at places such as the following.

  • Stationery section of a bookstore
  • Stationery section of an electronics retail store
  • Stationery section of a supermarket
  • Convenience stores
  • 100 yen shops (I recommend Seria!)

Information you need to send a letter

When sending a letter, you will need to have the following information.

  • Name and address of the recipient
  • Your name and address
  • Postage stamp price

How to write down the address on a letter

In Japan, addresses are written from the largest place name to the smallest. In other words, addresses are written in the order of prefecture => city => town.
For example, the address of Tokyo Tower is written in the opposite order in English and Japanese.

The recipient’s address should be written to the right of the name when written vertically or above the name when written horizontally, as shown in the image below. (Write your own address in the same way.)

For postcards, write the recipient’s and sender’s information on the same side. For envelopes, write the recipient’s information on the front and the sender’s information on the back as below.

How to write the name of the recipient

When sending a letter to an individual, put “様” (さま / sama / “suffix to be put after a person’s name to be respectful”)  after the person’s full name. “様” can be used for anyone regardless of his/her gender or age. If you are writing to an organization, such as a company or department, add “御中” (おんちゅう / onchū / “様 for a company or department”) instead of “様”.

For example;

  • 田中 太郎 様
  • ABC日本語学校 御中

*Even for good friends who usually call each other by nicknames or younger people, it is good manners to put “様” after the name of the person.

How to send a letter

1. Send it at a post office

If you send a letter at the counter of a post office, they will calculate the price of stamps you need, and you can buy stamps right there.

Post offices also provide insurance and banking services in addition to postal services. To send a letter, go to the counter labeled “郵便 Postal Service (Mail)” next to the red square.

You can find your nearest post office in the link below.

Find post offices and ATMs | Japan Post

2. Drop it in a post box

If you have stamps ready, this is a convenient option. On the post box, you will find the pick-up time by the post office staff. If you are in a hurry and the pickup time for that day has passed, it may be faster to take it to the post office for delivery.

You can find your nearest post box in the link below.

Post Box Near Me | Post Box Finder

Delivery rate 

Delivery rate (as of October 2021)

For domestic delivery:


63 yen
(For a reply-paid postcard, it costs 126 yen.)

*For the size, please check out the website of Japan Post.

Standard-size postal item

Long side: 14~23.5cm x Short side: 9~12cm x Thickness: ~1cm / Weight: ~50g

*This applies to letter sets sold in stores for sending mail weighing 50g or less.
*For the size, please check out the website of Japan Post.

~25g84 yen
~50g94 yen

For larger items below, if you cannot put them in the (red) post box, send them at the post office counter.

Nonstandard size postal item (Within the specified size)

Long side: 14~34cm x Short side: 9~25cm x Thickness: ~3cm / Weight: ~1kg

*For the size, please check out the website of Japan Post.

~50g120 yen
~100g140 yen
~150g210 yen
~250g250 yen
~500g390 yen
~1kg580 yen

Nonstandard size postal item (Over the specified size)

Long side: ~60cm / Long side + Short side + Thickness = ~90cm / Weight: ~4kg

*For the size, please check out the website of Japan Post.

~50g200 yen
~100g220 yen
~150g300 yen
~250g350 yen
~500g510 yen
~1kg710 yen
~2kg1,040 yen
~4kg1,350 yen

In addition to this, fees are added for express delivery and other options. For more information, please check the website of Japan Post.
List of additional charges for optional services | Japan Post 

For international delivery:

Rates vary depending on the type of mail and the destination country. You can calculate it on Japan Post’s website below.

Check rates and delivery days | Japan Post

Where can I buy postage stamps?

Postage stamps can be purchased at the following places

  • Post offices
  • Convenience stores
  • Service counters in large supermarkets
  • Stores with the 〒 mark on them

When you buy stamps, tell them how many yen worth of stamps you want. Even if you buy stamps at a place other than a post office, there are no special fees; stamps for 120 yen can be purchased for 120 yen.

It is not easy to tell the number in a foreign language, is it? If you write down the price and quantity of stamps you want to buy on a notepad, such as “120 yen x 1”, you can show it to the person at the store.


Check out the lovely special stamps!

The post office sells special stamps for a limited time, such as Pokémon stamps, stamps of the beautiful scenery of Japan, stamps of Ukiyoe, etc. Each sheet contains some stamps, and the total amount of stamps is the sales price.

切手発行一覧 | 日本郵便 (Japanese only)

Let’s look for rare post boxes!

A regular post box is red and square. Almost all post boxes in Japan are the same color and have a similar shape. However, sometimes you can find places where the old cylindrical post boxes still remain.

So what exactly is a rare post box? Well, there are panda-patterned post boxes, colorful post boxes, heart-shaped post boxes, and so on. My top recommendation is the “Underwater Post” in Susami Town, Wakayama Prefecture. It is a postbox located at the bottom of the sea, but if you drop a letter in it, it will be mailed properly. If you like diving, you should definitely go there.
Water-resistant postcards specially designed for the underwater post are available at a local dive store. 

クラブノアすさみ (Japanese only)

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