Name: Postal Museum Japan
Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑☆
Worth it? Yes.
Last updated 6/27/2020
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The museum is extremely well done + includes many artifacts going back as far as the late 1800’s. There are delivery vehicles, uniforms, advertisements, post boxes, and even the world’s only comprehensive collection of every stamp ever issued worldwide (the collection is so huge + valuable, you’re not allowed to photograph it).
To get there, take the Hanzomon Metro Subway line to Oshiagé/SKYTREE Station, go up through the TOKYO SKY TREE mezzanine station area, and then take the vast escalators up to the ground floor. Go to the 6th floor from the Tokyo Solomachi Bldg. entrance (there’s a side elevator in the lobby), take the elevator there, and then exit left to the Postal Museum. Tickets are at the front counter. There is also a huge Family Mart conbini (convenience store) on the lower escalator level.
Hanzomon Line Map. Oshiagé/SKYTREE station is on the far right (east), Shibuya, the western terminus is on the far left (west). Notable stops include Kinshicho, Suitengumae, Otemachi, Omotosando, and the western terminus, Shibuya. Shibuya, Nagatcho, Otemachi stations are major interchange points for other lines (indicated by the colored circles above stations on the above map). At 5 of the stations you can change to the Ginza Line for Akihabara and Ginza stops.
Head up out of the station to the TOKYO SKYTREE TOWN mezzanine, then hang a left here to get to the escalators up to the lobby. There are lots of stores and vending machines here. There is also a huge map. Note the color-coded Metro exit sign in yellow.
The massive escalators from the station mezzanine area up to the Solamachi Bldg. lobby. A Family Mart conbini is straight ahead. Note there are also a few coin lockers on the right where you can stash your stuff while @ Sky Tree if they are not all in use.
As a footnote, at the Tokyo Solamachi Bldg. there’s more to do: 2 long food court hallways, a massive food/gift floor, an aquarium, an info desk, a rooftop terrace outside Sky Tree itself, coffee shops, and various other attractions – and tickets to the Sky Tree’s 2 spectacular observation decks (floors 350 + 450). Cost for the observation decks is around $34 per adult as of 2019. Be sure to check out the glass floor in the 1st observation deck – for a dizzying view of the ground 350 floors below:
Glass floor in 1st Tokyo Sky Tree observatory.
You can also walk all the way around the Sky Tree/Solamachi complex on the sidewalks outside. On the north side of the complex is another subway line – the Tobu subway.
Within a block or two of Sky Tree are a Post Office, Life Supermarket, Mr. Donut, Sizzler restaurant, a MOS Burger, several conbini (convenience stores), and a great hotel called ONE @ Tokyo (about $100-$120/night). ONE @ Tokyo also has a limited small free bike parking rack for guests. Sky Tree also has one but it is very expensive – about $20/day – and it has a rolling shutter which closes @ midnight. There is also a small coin laundry on a side street near ONE @ Tokyo. ONE @ Tokyo also has a great rooftop patio and observation deck where you can get spectacular views of Sky Tree and the town of Oshiagé.
Also nearby on the Hanzomon Metro Subway Line is Sumiyoshi. The Hanzomon Line is interesting because it’s one of the most convenient lines in Tokyo – Oshiagé/SKYTREE is the eastern terminus of the line, but just a few minutes to the west and you’re at Tokyo Station which is a great area to explore + walk around in. The 2nd stop on the line from Sky Tree – Kinshicho – is also well worth a stop and look around. In fact you can walk from Sky Tree to Kinshicho to the south in about a 1/2 hour. Near Kinshicho is TOBU Hotel Levant – a Sky Tree Partner Hotel. There is all sorts of good shopping in Kinshicho – including 3 major depato (department stores) – OIOI (Marui), Termina, and PARCO/SEIYU. In the basement of OIOI there is an excellent Japan Meat stop with great midnight grocery sales, and there’s an inexpensive SEIYU in the basement of the PARCO, right next to the Metro exit. All of this is in Kinshicho about 1.5 miles to the south of Sky Tree. If you’re a meat-eater you can bring back a good haul from Japan Meat or SIEYU and cook it up in your hotel room. You can even find a whole tin of Danish butter cookies at midnight SEIYU sales for 100¥ (around $1). Well worth a few miles’ walk.
There is also a very nice First Cabin capsule-style hotel near Suitengumae Station on the Hanzomon Line (Z10) just two more stops to the west. The staff is more than friendly and speaks English – and the place is spotless. It’s tucked back off a side residential street in a quiet neighboorhood, just next to the Sumida River – but worth a stay if you don’t want to stay at a more expensive hotel near Sky Tree.
Once in the Solamachi/Sky Tree lobby, take the elevators to the 6th floor. There you can buy tickets @ the museum’s front desk for $6.
Inside the museum. The world’s largest collection of postage stamps is at the far end.
Late 1800’s postal advertisements.
The museum has all kinds of historical artifacts worth checking out:
Delivery scooter from the 1960’s.
Delivery worker uniforms spanning close to 200 years.
Mailbox from early 1900’s.
Early postal lanterns.
Early post box from late 1800’s.
That’s it for now. Enjoy your trip to the Postal Museum Japan and Sky Tree. Plan to spend around 2-3 days total in the area as there’s lots to do. The lines for the observatories are generally a mob scene – especially on weekends, so plan accordingly. Expect lots of screaming kids on weekends.
Floor Guide @ Tokyo Sky Tree
Last updated 6/21/2020
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The native word for post office in Japanese is the tounge-twister Yubinkyokyu (Pronounced You-bean-kyo–kyu).
There are post offices all throughout major cities in Japan. Some are larger and in major complexes, but some are smaller and are tucked away on side streets, or near train stations, and in smaller strip malls in neighborhoods. Most are indicated by a green + red-striped or white + red-striped sign on the outside of the building.
Most of the staff are helpful, but in the smaller or less central ones, some staff may not speak English, or may be nervous about speaking English. For this reason some staff may try to avoid you or refer you to other staff. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to be helpful – it’s more out of a worry that they won’t be able to speak English well, and thus be seen as not being able to do their jobs well – which is a no-no in service-oriented Japan. However, this is rare, and most will go out of their way to help you – especially in the bigger metro ones.
There are both domestic and international forms to fill out to mail or ship packages (see below).
The international JP service is called EMS – Express Mail Service. EMS has an excellent site in English. Luckily the forms are in both Japanese + English. You will need to fill them out in detail though – or the staff won’t mail your package. The most important items (other than name, address, phone, etc) are a list of each item, its weight, contents, and each item’s value. You have to be exact with the description for each item. If the clerk has doubts about an item – which might be dangerous or hazardous, they may ask you to clarify it – for example, if you buy a plastic model at an electronics store + ship it overseas, they may ask if it contains paint or glue.
As you enter the post office, get in line. Be polite + aware of others around you. Some offices have a numbered paper ticket machine from which you must take a ticket to get service. There is ususally an LED display with a number on it above the ticket machine. Many JP’s also have ATMs inside them – usually the affiliated JP Bank – and some have a bill pay machine, as shown in the photo below on the right side:
As a major bonus, there is both a Mr. Donut (Misa-Do in Japanese) and a small MOS Burger on either side of the PO. If you turn left here + head west, you will pass Sumiyoshi, and just to the north of that, Kinshicho.
Japan Post (red + white sign), left, MOS Burger (green sign) to the right of that, and Mr. Donut (yellow/orange sign), right. In Japan you can mail your stuff and pig out on all kinds of junk food at the same time – to make up for that 15 miles you just walked – all in one place. (As an even further added bonus, we’ve added a Mr. Donut Sidecar section at the end for your enjoyment).
Another Post Office – this one just southwest of the spectacular Tokyo Sky Tree.
Tokyo’s incredible Tokyo Sky Tree, in autumn.
Just across from the major Family Mart in Akasaka, on the left is a large JP Post Office, Akasaka SACAS is 2 blocks straight ahead (facing west). The PO entrance is right next to the red + blue Do Not Enter sign on the left, shown here. As a footnote, directly across from the PO on the other side of the street is the excellent curry beef restaurant, Marble. As a further footnote, just 1 block more down on the right is the capsule hotel First Cabin Akasaka.
Be sure to check out curry beef shop Marble, right across the street from the Akasaka Post Office.
You may want to bring your own mailing box + tape and box everything up yourself on a side counter before you get in line. Most JP’s also sell boxes and tape for a very reasonable price – under $5. One thing about Japanese mailing tape is it’s made of very thin cloth coated with a thick layer of latex – so you can tear it with your hands without the need for scissors or tools. Very clever. You can also buy the same kind of tape in most conbiini (conveniences stores) in Japan. The tape is usually tan-colored (although some brands sometimes have a very pungent toxic odor to them once you open the package). If you need help sealing your box, most JP staff will be happy to help.
JP mailboxes in Japan are usually large square metal boxes painted red with a 〒 symbol on the sides or front:
You’ll see these all over – on sidewalks, near train stations, at temples, everywhere.
There are other smaller sized boxes around Japan – some are tall narrow ones like the one above, but slender and taller. Old Japanese mailboxes from the early 1900’s were tall, slender, round-shaped, and about 5 ft. hight. You can see one in the Postal Museum Japan @ Sky Tree (see link below).
There are both domestic and international forms, as shown below. The international form is actually a little easier to understand and requires slightly less info. Be sure to fill each out meticulously.
Domestic Japan Post Shipping Label
Example international EMS label from EMS’s website.
LEGO even has a model one.
Well that’s it for now. Post Offices in Japan are easy to use – just be aware of the language issue – and if you have trouble, try to use one of the bigger offices in a major central area – it’s more likely the staff in these will speak fluent English and not be as nervous about helping foreigners.
An old Hibiki (“Echo”) brand household mailbox from a bygone era.
Notable PO locations in Tokyo
- Just a few blocks southwest of Tokyo Sky Tree.
- In the south end of the Tokyo Dome City complex (near Denny’s).
- At the Bunkyo Civic Center just a few blocks north of Tokyo Dome City.
- Nishi-Ikebukuro Post Office @ approx. 35°43’48.49″ N 139°42’23.58″ E
- Akasaka Dori Post Office (https://map.japanpost.jp/p/search/dtl/300101472000/)- just 2 blocks west of the Japan Central Gov’t and 2 blocks east of the Akasaka SACAS complex + TBS bldg (across from the large Family Mart).
- Akihabara UDX Post Office – right across from the northeast exit of Akihabara Station on the ground floor of the UDX bldg.
- List of Post Office in Tokyo/Around tourist attractions
For inquiries by phone on International Mail, please call the following numbers. (You cannot call from overseas.)
|Customer Service Center |
(Toll Free) Mobile Phone ： 0570-046-666 (Chargeable call) For English ： 0570-046-111
Weekdays 8:00 – 21:00
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 9:00 – 21:00
Mr. Donut Sidecar
Mr. Donut (Misad0 for short in Japan) was founded in 1956 in the US but went bankrupt in the 1980’s. There is only one left in the US today – in a small town in IL. Mr. Donut was actually the originator of the Caffe Latte Mocha decades before Starbuck’s stole the idea. The donut chain began as a single donut shop called Tommy’s Donuts (see photo) and later expanded into a franchise in the 1960’s + 70’s and was renamed Mr. Donut.
Sadly, Mr. Donut went bankrupt in the US in the 80’s – mainly due to the rise of Dunkin, Winchell’s, Krispy Kreme, and Starbucks. Oddly, they still have a US licnesing site.
Amazingly, today Mr Donut is the biggest donut chain in Japan.
And boy, do the Japanese love their Misad0. Around Halloween + Christmas, the franchise goes nuts – even holding special Halloween parties featuring all kinds of crazy Halloween-themed donut designs + specials in Japan.
It’s so OTT you could easily spend a couple $100 bucks in Misado in Japan and eat yourself sick (but of course that wouldn’t happen because in Japan you probably walked 10-15 miles that day and are so hungry at the end of the day you could easily eat a dozen and not even blink).
Even more incredible, in the popular Tokyo town of Ikebukuro, there are three Mr. Donuts – one larger, older one a few blocks to the east of JR Ikebukuro Station, and two just outside the west exit of JR Ikebukuro Station. One of those two just opened in 2019.
The original Tommy’s Donuts bldg. from 1960’s. The shape of the bldg. would become one of Mr Donut’s trademarks in the US.
Mr Donut franchise in the US in 1980’s. Note the pay phone booth.
Crazy Misado Halloween Party lineup in a store in Japan in 2019. You have use restraint in these places – or you can stuff yourself silly.
Decisions….. a Mr. Donut in Akabane in Northeast Tokyo.
Dunkin and Krispy Kreme have picked up on the idea – all 3 chains now battle it out around Halloween every year for donut-eaters’ ¥.
There are even new Matcha donuts from Mr Donut in Japan. There are also other campaigns such as Hello Kitty donuts, Mister Donut Pokemon Collection, and lots of other themes.
Mr. Donut also sometimes has special promos on ceramic coffee mug themes in their stores. You can even find them on eBay sometimes.
More Misado Historical Lore
Misado set circa 2002 – note the price – around 200¥ – about $2 US.
Misado set circa 2002 – They also served croissants, danish, and coffee.
Yes, she ate them all.
Critcal Eats Japan is a fine YouTube channel in English whose host reviews lots of local Japanese food.
Definitely worth a look.
Name: Ojima Komatsugawa Koén
Location: 35°41’29.71″ N 139°51’07.44″ E
This is a massive park with all kinds of walking trails, bridges, lawns, and gardens.
The park design has a somewhat Soviet feel to it – very spartan, concrete, and modern, but interesting nonetheless. It’s well worth a day trip.
Higashi-Ojima Station on the Toei subway system is just to the east, right near the river.
If you are coming from Sky Tree, there are two possible trips – you can take Rt. 453 down, southeast, and the park will be to your left, but a better way from Sky Tree is to take Yotsume Dori south, stop first at Kinshi Park, then check out the area around Kinshicho Station 1 block to the south, then continue south a few blocks to Sarue-Onshi Park, check it out, then head east on Shin-Ohashi Dori (Rt. 50) all the way into Ojima Komatsugawa Park.
This might sound like a lot but it’s not really – the distances are only a few miles and if you get tired you can stop at one of the parks, or shopping malls to rest. You can also take a train to Kinshicho Station and then head east to the park. The area around Kinshicho Station is definitely a must-see.
Doutor @ Kinshi Park. Olinas Core is visible on the right up the street 1 block, facing north.
Also just a little east of Kinshicho Station is Komeida, another area worth looking at. There’s a small Don Quijote store here, and a Mr. Donut right across from it.
You can do all these on the way to the park, or just cruise through them for a look on your way. On bike the entire trip is only a few hours, on foot, a day-trip and back.
Ojima Komatsugawa Park is shown at the lower right corner next to the Arakawa River. Sky Tree is northwest – in the upper left corner, Kinshi Park is in the center left, and Sakuae Park is in the lower left. Rt. 50 runs left to right (west to east).
As you approach the park, 1 block before the entrance is a huge apartment complex with a Mr. Donut, MOS Burger, post office, and Aeon supermarket on the ground floor:
This is facing north. When you arrive here, continue east (right) for 1 block until you come to the park entrance.
Continue east on 50 and you’ll come to a big curve which veers south. This is where the park entrance is. Head up the stairs and into the park:
Next, you’ll come to a big tiled overpass. Cross over, head straight, and you’ll enter the circular path that rings the park:
Walk along the ringed path, and you’ll be in the park. Sky Tree is still visible in the distance to the northwest.
Park layout. The long tiled walkway after the entrance is shown in the upper center of the above map – just to the left of the large walkway ringing the park. Rt. 50 is just below it.
After the park, go back the way you came, hit the MOS Burger or Mr. Donut for some refreshment, then head back to your original location – or head back to Kinshicho and check out some of the shops at PARCO, Marui (OIOI), or Termina right near the station. There is also a very good SEIYU discount grocery in the basement of the PARCO complex.
As a footnote, on Rt. 50 (Shin-Ohashi Dori), between Sarue Park and Ojima Komatsugawa Koén is the futuristic capsule hotel, Moon Station Hotel located at 35°41’22.61″ N 139°49’37.57″ E. This is a mixed and women-only luxury capsule hotel with futuristic deluxe and small rooms with ambient lighting and a space-station design. Capusles are fairly cheap – ranging from $42-$78/night. Another futurisitc oddity that could only happen in Japan.