Japan Postal Rates/Guide

Domestic Mailing, Faxing & Package Express Options

The postage rates for all domestic and international letters and parcels last went up in Japan in January 1994. The Japanese postal service was then quick to point out that this was the first price increase in 13 years. Unfortunately that disclaimer has not eased the pain of Japan's (already) unparalleled cost of postal services at a time when the yen remains strong while pocketbooks become weaker.

Below there is a chart of the current Japanese postal rates. But one example is the price for mailing a simple postcard. This goes from 41 to 50 yen, an 18% increase. Or take the standard domestic letter (up to 25 grams) which increased from 62 to 80 yen, a 22.5% lift. Postal services are vital to the flow of business and personal correspondence, for the dissemination of information, and, of course ... for junk mail.

The Japanese Postal Service does have an excellent reputation for speed and reliability. Think about some of the Romanji addresses you've seen: incomplete or misspelled place-names, mixed up word order, scribbled out ... yet still (usually) making it to their intended destinations!

But operating at twice or three times the per item price of other industrialized countries (within a more compact geographic region, in the first place ... ) it gives one pause to try to consider all of the options:

It is worth noting, that the Japanese Postal System is not the only game in town. For packages there are a number of courier services. (But their drawback is that they expect someone to be home for package reception. And they usually only speak Japanese, which can make them difficult to use for foreigners.) But for sending parcels in Japan their prices are hard to beat!

Many local convenience stores have arrangements with one or more package express services for daily package pickup. So look around or ask your Japanese friends for their advice. You may be surprised at how easy it is once you've had them send something for you one time. Check first for size and weight restrictions though. And I've found that the destination phone number is very useful for their delivery. Very few foreigners' phone numbers are listed with NTT. And once the initial delivery attempt fails, it can take a few more days before another can be arranged.

You Fax Me & I'll Fax You. More and more businesses are using faxes to transmit correspondence quickly & reliably. The call connect time for sending a local fax costs only 10 or 20 yen. There is "instant delivery" on the other side, and it is quite a savings over the 80 yen minimum per each mailed letter. No envelope, plus you get to keep your original.

If you go shopping for a fax machine be aware that there are a number of options available. One of the most popular for individuals in recent years seems to be to get a phone/fax/answering machine. But only the higher end models seem to be able to do automatic switching between incoming messages vs. incoming faxes. So shop around if this option best suits you.

Cheaper fax models have gotten down below the 40,000 yen range. Or to put it another way 500 letters times 80 yen each equals - 40,000 yen. Probably not a cost effective solution for the average person, ...but convenient nonetheless.

Many people may long for the "good old days" of only one way to send letters and parcels. The prices for traditional mailing have indeed gone up - but then so have your number of possible options. By Paul Abramson

Japanese Domestic Postage Rates

Standard POSTCARD - 50 yen

Return-Reply Postcard - 100 yen


     up to 25 gm.     

          80 Yen           

up to 50gm.

90 Yen

up to 50 gm.*

130 Yen

up to 100 gm.

190 Yen

up to 250 gm.

270 Yen

up to 500 gm.

390 Yen

up to 1 kg.

700 Yen

up to 2 kg.

950 Yen

up to 3 kg.

1150 Yen

up to 4 kg.

1350 Yen

(* - denotes oversized envelope.) There are several specific classifications for mailing letters and packages - if they meet the criteria. For example books (with no letter, etc.) have a special rate. Magazines are also mailed under discount rates, as are catalogs, etc. The average foreigner-type will have a hard time getting any discount, of course. And when in doubt the clerk will almost always try to enforce the highest rate - without telling you the options!

YU-PACK - is a popular option for mailing domestic parcels. It requires a special (small) form, available at the postal counter. Check at major post offices for a full English price list of the new rates.

Japanese International Postage Rates

Standard POSTCARD - 80 yen

Aerogramme- 90 yen




Asia, Guam

& Midway



& Europe

Africa &


10 gm.

90 Yen

110 Yen

130 Yen

20 gm.

150 Yen

190 Yen

230 Yen

30 gm.

210 Yen

270 Yen

330 Yen

40 gm.

270 Yen

350 Yen

430 Yen

50 gm.

330 Yen

430 Yen

530 Yen

60 gm.

390 Yen

510 Yen

630 Yen

70 gm.

450 Yen

590 Yen

730 Yen

80 gm.

510 Yen

670 Yen

830 Yen

90 gm.

570 Yen

750 Yen

930 Yen

100 gm.

630 Yen

830 Yen

1030 Yen

There are 3 common classes for mailing INTERNATIONAL PARCELS:


     AIR MAIL - Fastest and most expensive. Usually 1 to 2 weeks to the destination.

     SAL (Surface Air Lift) - 2 to 3 weeks, flying on a space available basis. Cheaper than Airmail and much faster than Surface Mail.

     SURFACE MAIL - Slow, and from Japan not always that cheap. Expect 3 to 9 weeks, depending on destination, sometimes longer.

     EMS (Intl. Express) ... and other options are available. See a full list of prices, available at all post offices, but instructions in English are typically only available at a few major city post offices.

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