Lost and Found in Japan – What to Do When You Lost Your Stuff

What would you do if you accidentally lost something while traveling or staying in Japan? Going Lost and Found? Giving up? Not so fast!

In Japan, the survey says that if you lose your wallet, there is about a 60-70% chance it will return to you. In fact, I have lost my wallet twice, but both times it was brought to the police and returned to me (the first time was a pick-pocket and the cash was stolen, but the second time, I simply dropped it on the street and it came back to me in the same as I dropped it!) I will tell you what to do if you lose something in Japan!

What to do when you notice that you lost your stuff

First, double-check the place where you usually put the item

When your hands are full or in a hurry, you may put an item in a different place than usual. Once again, check where you always put the item, its surroundings, and your bags.

If the lost item contains a credit card or something like that, contact the company that issued the card and ask them to deactivate it. However, even if the item is found right after your call, it may not be possible to reactivate it. I recommend contacting the company after ensuring you did not drop the item nearby or put it in an unusual place. 

If you lost it in a store, restaurant, or hotel

If you lost or last used the item in a store or hotel, ask the store staff at the cash register or front desk if your lost item has been brought to them.
Some staff may not speak English. In such cases, use the point-and-speak illustrations in the link below.

Point and Speak – Lost and Found –

If you are a resident, give them your contact information for when they find the item. If you pay the shipping costs, some hotels or car rental companies will ship the items to your home in your country. 

If you lost it on a train

Tell the station attendant at the ticket gate that you have lost something at the station you get off. They will tell you where the Lost and Found Center is and check the items delivered to the station.
Japanese railroad companies will keep lost items for a certain period (usually about three days), even if it is a one-yen coin. (After the storage period has ended, the lost item will be delivered to the police’s lost property collection center.) You can also contact them by phone, but only major railroad companies such as JR support calls in English. If you are uncomfortable calling in Japanese, we recommend talking directly to a station attendant at the ticket gate.

Lost & Found | JR Tokai (Tokaido Shinkansen Operator)
JR East Infoline | JR East (Main train operator in and near Tokyo)
I left something on the train. What should I do? | Japan Rail Pass

If you have no idea where you lost it

If you can’t find it anywhere you can think of, you should first deactivate your credit cards and other items that could be misused, then go to the police and file a report. In case they find it months later (after you have returned to your own country), the police will not ship it back to your country, but in Japan, it may be found on the same day or within a few days (I have had my lost item back that very day), so go to the police just in case.
If you have travel insurance, your insurance company will often cover the damage by submitting official documentation issued by the police to the insurance company. Check the rules and conditions of your travel insurance and credit cards that come with travel insurance in advance.

How to file a lost and found report

Where to go

First, go to the nearest police station or police box(“KOBAN” [交番]). You can file a lost and found report at either of them. (A police box is like a branch of each police station, a small building with approximately one to three police officers. Sometimes they are away on patrol or when there is an incident in the neighborhood).
The location of the police station or police box can be found by looking up Police (Google Maps “Police”) or Police Box (Google Maps “Police Box”). This is the symbol on the map of Japan.

What to tell

First, tell an officer you want to file a lost and found report (“Lost Property Report”). If you can’t get through to them, show them the phrase below..

“I would like to file a Lost Property Report.”

Describe your lost item

If you can’t get through to them, In such cases, use the point-and-speak illustrations in the link below.

Point and Speak – Lost and Found –

An example of how to fill out a Lost Property Report:
LOST PROPERTY REPORT (Sample) |Tokyo Metropolitan Police

When your lost item is to be found

When you get a call that your lost item has been found, go to the designated location to pick up the item. As a general rule, the owner of the lost and found item must go there in person to pick up the item. To pick up your lost item, you will need the receipt number from when you reported the lost item (or the notification number given to you when you are contacted) and your ID.

*If you write a letter of authorization, it may be possible for someone other than yourself to pick up the lost item. If you are requesting a friend to pick up the lost item due to returning home or other reasons, you should prepare the letter and give him/her.

Letter of Authorization | Tokyo Metropolitan Police
Letter of Authorization (Sample) | Tokyo Metropolitan Police

*The representative must bring the letter of authorization and his/her identification (e.g., passport, driver’s license, student card).
*The forms must be printed on paper with the following specifications:
a. Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) size A4
b. Plain white paper (Do not use thermal paper or other special papers)

If you are a resident of Japan and live far from the location of the finding, they may be able to ship it to you if you cover the shipping costs. You may want to check with them when you receive the call.

Useful Links

Lost or Forgot Your Property? | National Police Agency
*You can check out the process here.

Lost and Found | Tokyo Metropolitan Police
*You can find the information and required documents here.