We live in the age of the Internet. The world is at our fingertips. Long gone are the days of writing letters and sending them by horse. Nowadays e-mail can breeze across the world in a matter of seconds. The Internet is how you, wherever you are, are reading this blog post written in Tokyo.
This day and age “snail mail” has been relegated to delivering large envelopes and packages. Most packages come from Internet stores like Rakuten, Amazon, and Yahoo! Shopping. The content supplying you with everything you need, from food to fashion. You could go as far as to say that the big companies and delivery providers have created a symbiotic relationship: each need the other to thrive. So let us take a look what types of services are available in Japan and how you can get goods whether you live domestic or abroad.
Japan Post is the main mail carrier in Japan. They are responsible for delivering letters, envelopes, and anything you can shove through a mailbox slot. Many sellers that sell on Rakuten, Mercari (popular auction site), and Yahoo! Auctions use Japan Post to get their knick-knacks to their customers. While other countries’ postal services usually have limited delivery times (my US Postal Service person came anywhere from noon to 3 P.M.) Japan Post allows you to designate time slots to get whatever you order, whenever you want.
Japan Post is also one of the biggest banks in Japan. Yes, the Japanese post office also deals cash. If you land in Japan and need to open a bank account, Japan Post Banks can be an easy option. Like most banks and post offices, Japan Post has operating business hours similar to any other country: 9-to-5 and closed on the weekends. So if you are going to ship something it would be best to do it during your lunch breaks.
Probably the most popular when dealing with packages is Yamato Transport. Yamato does one thing and they do it well, and that is deliver packages. They are the go-to when shipping anything of mid size like a PC monitor, large figure, or even a guitar. They also have a refrigeration service so if you buy fruit or frozen desserts online, you can get them in good condition within a few days. Some people use Yamato while on vacation inside Japan: do a whole bunch of shopping, realize you bought way too much stuff for your small suitcase, throw your goods in a cardboard box, and ship those belongings to your apartment.
Amazon has grown in popularity since making its way to Japan in 2000. While the American company had huge success in its home country, it has tough competition with local peer-to-peer marketplace success Rakuten. Through their streamlined service, providing things like Prime, and having the ability to select delivery dates and times, Amazon has become a force to be reckoned with.
Recently, they have rolled out an alternative delivery program. The delivery program “Amazon Delivery Service Partner” is used in Japan exclusively for 2-Day shipping. What always catches me off-guard is that many times my package is delivered by a plain clothes, plain car, person. Think Uber for packages. Many times these people will actually come before their specified time slot. I usually set my delivery for after I come home from work (7:00-9:00PM) but have caught the guy ringing my doorbell while I am walking up the front steps (6:30PM). So if you do use Amazon Delivery Service Partner keep an eye out for a non-uniformed delivery guy waving your package at the intercom camera.
If you reside outside of Japan and are looking for ways to get manga, figures, etc. from Amazon Japan, DHL is the shipping provider Internationally. When I started learning Japanese I ordered a good deal of manga and JLPT books from Amazon Japan. DHL 2-Day shipping was the only option and it came at a pretty hefty price tag.
Living in a city like Tokyo has many perks: you are surrounded by shopping malls, there are big retail stores, and there are even specialty shops here and there. But sometimes you just can’t find what you are looking for, or maybe your weekend is booked and you need something soon. Net shopping is a great alternative in Japan. Everybody, from the box packers to the delivery people, does their job and they do it well. Through the Japanese mindset of teamwork, a great shopping and shipping experience can be expected in Japan.
Software Engineer and Blogger at TalentHub
Usually coding, writing, or exploring Japan.
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