Penguins, mice and bird houses: How Japan’s bizarre post boxes have become quirky tourist attractions

  • There are 205 of these special post boxes dotted around Japan, either shaped or decorated with different things
  • The first of these was created as a memorial for an anniversary but they’ve since become tourist attractions
  • Japan even has a post box under water, which is visited by divers and is actually used for sending postcards

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Post boxes are generally seen as boring, but practical objects. But in Japan, they’re a little more unusual. There, post boxes can be shaped like anything from cartoon characters to bird houses.

Occasionally, they are also decorated with special items. Right now, there are 205 of these special post boxes around Japan making them quirky tourist attractions for locals and visitors.

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There are 205 of these special post boxes dotted around Japan, shaped or decorated in wacky ways

Postmap.org has mapped more than 175,000 of the country’s post boxes,complete, in many cases, with pictures

The first of these post boxes was revealed in 1952 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Japan Postal Service joining the Universal Postal Union

Towns and cities started to design the post boxes as mini-tourist attractions themselves as they’ve become very popular with visitors

Left, a cute decoration above a traditional post box and right, a memorial post box shaped like a traditional drinks container

The ‘decorated’ post boxes are dotted all over the country and many are listed on postmap.org1, which has mapped more than 175,000 of the country’s post boxes. On the website, you can see photographs as well as a map revealing their exact location.

According to The Sarusawa Blog2, the first of these post boxes was revealed in 1952 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Japan Postal Service joining the Universal Postal Union. More of these memorial post boxes followed until eventually, towns and cities started to design them as mini-tourist attractions themselves. For example, the small fishing town of Susami currently holds the Guinness World Record for the deepest underwater post box according to Japan Times3.

It’s very popular with divers4, who can purchase water-resistant postcards to send via the post box, 33ft below the surface of the sea. The local post office collects the mail every couple of days before sending the post on as normal. The most recent memorial post boxes are four monuments that were unveiled in the town of Tobe in April this year.

They were topped with the local pottery to promote the town’s handcraft.

Left, statues of dancers on a post box unveiled to celebrate Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival) in Tokushima City and right, a Haiku post box by Matsuyama Castle

This penguin post box in Nagoya fits in with the other penguin attractions at Nagoya port, a popular tourist area in the city

Left, two bird statues dancing on a box post and right, a post box shaped like Totoro, a Japanese spirit

Most normal Japanese post boxes are red but the one on the right is black while the one on the left is silver and features people holding up a ball

References

  1. ^ postmap.org (postmap.org)
  2. ^ The Sarusawa Blog (www.thesarusawablog.com)
  3. ^ Japan Times (www.japantimes.co.jp)
  4. ^ popular with divers (www.youtube.com)

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