I didn’t think I’d experience culture shock in Japan, but after my first trip to the Japan Post office (JP Post) I ended up leaving embarrassed when trying to mail a Japanese post card.
Japan Post Office: The Experience
You can find a Japan post office (JP Post) in every city. On my first few trips to Japan, I ended up mailing myself a few items because I couldn’t carry them all.
That was when I first started traveling and ended up buying so many souvenirs that I ended up donating to charity years later. This taught me a lot about buying only things I actually need and to only keep things that “spark joy“. Now when I travel, I only bring necessary things and pack with the carry-on only mindset. You don’t need that many clothes since you could always get them washed at a laundromat in any city.
I don’t normally buy postcards, but I was passing by one of the many Japan Mail office locations and saw that they were selling large ramen Japanese postcards.
As you can tell, I picked up this awesome Japanese post card in Osaka. I ended up trying to mail it in Yokohama. Two very distant cities, but I was using the JR Pass to travel around Japan so it was all part of the journey.
Entering The Japan Post Office (JP Post)
The Yokohama Japan Mail Office was very clean and organized. When you walk in, you are directed to take a number from a ticket vending machine. So I walked in and took a ticket. There was a digital display board that said which number was up and to which desk you should approach.
When my number is called, I walk up to the counter and explain I would like to mail a Japanese post card. The staff spoke English (which was awesome) and tried to help me.
I thought I could just walk in, pay for postage, and mail this post card. I was wrong.
They explained to me that the Japanese post card I bought was only for Japan! It was a Japan Post special promotion. They were doing famous items from each city on postcards. Mailing them internationally was beyond the normal postcard size regulations.
Culture Shock In Japan On The Way
I wasn’t sure what my options were. There was a bit of a stalemate with the post office worker. She told me the postcard was too big to mail and I just stood there. Okay, maybe that’s not a stalemate but just me standing there not responding. That’s not yet the culture shock in Japan I experienced
I started thinking, “maybe we can fold it or cut off some pieces.” But luckily that’s when the Japan Mail Office worker had an idea!
Culture Shock in Japan! Don’t Do This!
My idea of folding or cutting the Japanese post card was not a good idea. The Japan Mail office worker offered me an envelope to mail the postcard. I agreed and purchased a 2-pack of envelopes (since you can’t buy just one) for 90JPY. Since I only needed one, I gave the other envelope to the JP Post Office and said just to give it to whoever needs it.
Complete Culture Shock in Japan: Embarrassed!
I wrote out the address on the envelope, put the postcard in, then licked the flap to seal the envelope. Immediately after licking the flap, I realized there was no glue on the envelope.
The expression of the post office worker made me think of how I currently look: A weird guy that licks envelopes for no reason. She was holding some tape to seal the envelope.
Mail A Postcard From Japan
To send the envelope with the postcard inside was another 90JPY for international postage. The JP Post Office worker told me if the postcard had a destination within Japan, the envelope would not have been necessary. If the postcard had been regular sized, the international postage rate is 70JPY.
That’s surprisingly very affordable! To mail a post card from Japan will cost 70JPY. I know some people send postcards to themselves or to family/friends. At a bar in Prague, they did this for me. It was really nice getting a postcard from myself for some reason.
Don’t lick envelopes. That’s weird. Think about, you’re licking a chemical adhesive that might kill you (Seinfeld). But if you have to use envelopes with that adhesive, use a sponge. It’s safer and more convenient!
Japanese culture shock is actually a good thing. It helps you think about the world from a different perspective and to reflect on yourself. That’s why you should embrace these 10 Japanese Habits to diversify your point of view.