How to Fill Out A Postcard in Japan

Any foreigner living in Japan knows how intense it can be to fill out a postcard or just write your Japanese address properly. When it comes to sending a postcard, the struggle can be real, so trust us, you want to be ready for that!


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The goal of this lesson is to help you understand how to send a postcard, and after watching the detailed video you will know how and where to write the recipient’s name, address and even a few cultural insights!

What better way to get started than with a private lesson from Risa private! In this video she teaches you how to fill out a Japanese postcard with the proper names and address. You won’t have to worry ever again about where to write the different elements.

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The Japanese Address System

One fact you may not be aware of is that most of streets in Japan don’t have names, except for major roads. Japanese cities and towns are divided into areas, districts and blocks. Last but not least, building and house numbers don’t follow any kind of order or geographical sequence, but have are ordered according to when they were constructed. This addressing system can be quite confusing as it may be different from anything you have ever encountered.

How to Fill out a Japanese Address

Let’s get down to business and give you what you came for, the secret to writing a Japanese address on a postcard or any kind of mail you would need to post.

When writing a Japanese address, you need to start with the postal code, then the prefecture followed by city, subarea number, block number, building/house number, and you finish with the recipient’s name. In English it would be the opposite, you would start with the name and finish with the prefecture and postal code.

JapanesePod101 Postcard

  1. - Postal symbol, preceding postal code
  2. 107-0052 - Postal code, composed of 7 numbers
  3. 東京都 - Prefecture (県, ken), with the exception of Tokyo (都, to), Hokkaido (道, do) and Osaka/Kyoto (府, fu)
  4. 港区 - Municipality, city (市, shi), village (村, mura) or ward (区, ku). Here it is Minato ward.
  5. 赤坂 - Area. Here it is Akasaka.
  6. 3丁目4-4 - City district (丁目, chome), city block (番地, banchi), bldg/house number (号, go)
  7. ジョン シナ - Recipient’s name. In Japan the last name precedes the first name and is often followed by a honorific suffix like San (さん) or Sama (様), corresponding to Mr. or Ms.

Now you know how to write an address in the best Japanese tradition! But if you absolutely want to stick it to the western style, which would still be delivered, here is the same example as above but in English:

John Cena
3-4-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-0052

If you are an absolute beginner but want to get started in order to write your postcard in Japanese, you can learn how in the Introduction to Japanese Writing lesson.

Ready to master the Japanese writing system? Get your Free Lifetime Account to unlock access to all our resources for learning the Japanese alphabet - Hiragana and Katakana in 10 days - and start writing Japanese from the very first lesson!


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How to Send a Postcard When Living in Japan

You will have to find a post office to get it stamped. Japanese post offices are easy to find in most towns and cities, and are marked with this symbol 〒.

Once you hand over the postcard or any other mail, they will weigh the letter and then tell you the price, the flat rate being ‎¥60 for surface mail and ¥70 for airmail all over the world. After paying, you’ll get the stamps and the choice for the post office to take the letter then or for you to post it later. It’s not complicated, except for the communication aspect. So for you Japanese learners, here are 5 survival phrases to successfully post your card:

  • 郵便局はどこですか 。
    ゆうびんきょく は どこ です か。
    Yūbinkyoku wa doko desu ka.

    Where is the post office?
  • 切手をください。
    きって を ください。
    Kitte o kudasai.

    Please give me a stamp.
  • 航空便でお願いします。
    こうくうびん で おねがい します。
    Kōkū-bin de onegai shimasu.

    By air mail please.
  • アメリカまでお願いします。
    アメリカ まで おねがい します。
    Amerika made onegai shimasu.

    Please send to America.
  • いつ届きますか。
    いつ とどきます か。
    Itsu todokimasu ka.

    When will it arrive?

Now you are ready to send a Japanese New Year’s Greeting Card or Summer Greeting Card. Those popular events will be the perfect opportunity to test yourself and please your friends! Not only you can send postcards, but also business letters or packages, as they follows the same process. Just check your shipping options. You can choose the EMS package tracking (Express) or a cheaper and longer option…You will find all the information you need on the English page of the Japan Post official website.

Understanding Japanese culture and customs will definitely help you on your way to reaching fluency!


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Bonus Video! Who does Risa send a postcard to?

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