Author: James Smyth
Editor: Chen Yu-rong
I taught English in Japan for two years, and every month I went to the post office. People who have been to Japan know how safe it is, and our postal workers were equally reliable: they knew the people of the town, and the people of the town knew them. They were part of the family. Sending mail in Japan is quick and convenient, and many people also have bank accounts with Japan Post.
Because I lived in the countryside, shopping online was more convenient than going to the store. I lived by myself and worked a lot, though. I’d leave early in the morning and come home late at night, so it would seem impossible for me to receive packages. But it wasn’t a problem, really. I just had to call the post office or delivery service and tell them what time I wanted the package delivered. Whether it was that night or the next afternoon or the morning of the next day, any time between nine and nine was fine.
To send money, you have to buy a special envelope. Sending money abroad takes two weeks. I used such a money order to pay my application fee for ICLP, but the school staff later told me it was difficult for them to redeem it.
New Year’s Cards, or “Nengajo,” are Japanese mail’s speciality. People write new year’s greetings and family news to their family, friends, and coworkers. They were all handwritten once, but now more and more people are using printers to include photographs and save time. There are two kinds of mail in December: the regular kind and the New Year’s Cards, the latter of which are saved in a red bag. On New Year’s Day, the mailman delivers them all at once, so people can start the new year happy by enjoying their friendships.
When I moved out of Japan, I had too many things to bring home. There were two pieces of luggage, two carry-ons, and five packages. If you’re sending packages overseas, you have to write the contents clearly on the label for customs. I sent my packages by ship, which took a little less than two months to arrive at my home. Yes, it took a while, but it was the cheapest option. Besides, I didn’t send anything that I needed immediately.
As you can see, the Japanese postal system was a big part of my life, and I have a high opinion of it. (Note: After I gave this report in class, my teacher said, “it sounds like it was your best friend!”)