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Blog > The Little Mail Carriers in Tokyo!


Hanako's dreamy posts on Instagram caught our attention some years ago. Featuring quirky Japanese mailboxes, pretty stationery and her own beautiful artwork, they made us dream of visiting the “land of the rising sun”… but pandemic years were tricky for making trips abroad, so we did the next best thing, and sent the Little Mail Carriers instead! 😊 Here they are, to report on their adventures!

Kon’nichiwa! Many greetings from Japan, where our host Hanako lives and does her art (including postcards for Postcrossing meetings)! She promised to give us a tour of Tokyo, so let’s get started! First stop: a post box! This is what a normal postbox in Japan looks like.

Two Playmobil toy mail carriers stand atop a modern Japanese mailbox, on a sidewalk

We headed to the Kyobashi Post Office in Tsukiji, Tokyo. Today the special stamps “International Letter-Writing Week, 2021” were just issued. We had the first-day postmarks put on the postcards and on an envelope made from a museum flyer. The stamps are showing famous woodblock prints by Hokusai. Everyone knows his iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”… but did you know the painting is part of “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”, or that it used a new kind of blue pigment which revolutionized Japanese prints?

Two postcards and envelope featuring Japanese illustrations of people in traditional clothes lay on a table, alongside a sheet of stamps. The little Playmobil mail carriers sit on them, observing.

About half of post offices in Japan have their own pictorial postmarks. These postmarks are called 風景印 (fukeiin). We had the fukeiin of Kyobashi Post Office put on our little passport. It illustrates a scene from Sukeroku (known as The Flower of Edo, in English), one of the most famous plays in the Kabuki repertoire.

The Little Mail Carriers show their passport, a small notebook featuring stamps and special postmarks

Kabuki is a type of Japanese classical dance-drama, characterized by elaborate stage makeup, fancy costumes and stylized performances that date back to the Edo period. Why does the fukeiin stamp show Kabuki here? Because the Kyobashi Post Office is located near Kabuki-za, the principal theater for Kabuki plays!

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of the theater, a very ornate building.

Next, we visited Ueno Station. In Japan, you can find special souvenir stamps like this at railway stations, museums or tourist spots. If you travel around Japan, we really need to bring a notebook for stamp collecting!

The Little Mail Carriers put the special stamp from the train station on their notebook. The stamp features a panda image

Awwww… isn’t it cute? We saw the panda postbox near Ueno Zoo, which is the oldest zoo in Japan. Twin pandas were born here in June 2021, and they were named Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei.

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a panda-themed mailbox. The mailbox has the same format of a Japanese mailbox, but is painted white, with the eyes, nose and mouth of the panda painted black. It also has some ears on top!

Yay! We found the Pokémon manhole-cover in front of the National Museum of Nature and Science! Hanako says manhole-cover hunting is one of the pleasures of a trip to Japan. There are various kinds of manhole-covers with local design.

The Little Mail Carriers sit on top of a colorful Pokémon-themed manhole cover, featuring Tyrant and Wynaut. The Little Mail Carriers sit on top of a Pokémon-themed manhole cover. The cover is colorful and features pokéballs, Bronzor in the center and Baltoys along the edge

Another one is here in front of the Tokyo National Museum! There are many museums in the Ueno area, so you can’t see all of them in one day. If you visit Japan for the first time and need to choose only one museum in Ueno, we heard the Tokyo National Museum is a good one to see, so that’s where we are headed! The building was built in 1937, and is often used as the location for Japanese TV dramas.

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a sword's blade. The blade is big and curved, and sits on top of a white sheet.

We took our time looking around the exhibits. The Tokyo National Museum has many national treasures as their collection. Above is one of them, the Tachi Sword made by Yoshifusa in the 13th century. Have you watched “Seven Samurai”, the Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa? Samurai swords are quite interesting cultural artifacts, not to mention really beautiful.

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a large wooden sculpture of a monkey.

This work of sculpture titled “Aged Monkey” made by Koun Takamura is famous among Japanese philatelists, because it was selected as the subject of the 60-yen stamp from the Modern Art Series, issued in 1983. Of course, we bought the matching postcard, too!

The same sculpture of a monkey is featured on a postcard and on stamps.

Aaaaaaaah, the museum shop is a postcard paradise! 😍 How many should we buy?! Can’t decide because all of them look amazing!

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a postcard display, featuring many illustrated postcards i nthe Japanese style

It’s about time for lunch! OK, we have soba here today. Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat and is popular as healthy food. Chopped spring onions (also known as scallions) and grated ginger go well with it. The soba restaurant Yabusoba in Ueno was established in 1892. Hanako showed us the cute soba stamp issued in 2016.

The Little Mail Carriers stand near a plate of noodles. A pair of tweezers holds a noodle-themed stamp in the foreground

After lunch, we came to Tokyo Skytree by bus! This 634 meter-high tower was completed in 2012 and became a new symbol of Tokyo.

The Little Mail Carriers stand on a ledge, while an impressive high towers rises behind them towards the sky

We visited the Postal Museum on the 9th floor of Tokyo Solamachi, the shopping mall under Tokyo Skytree. The Skytree postbox warmly welcomed us.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of a quirky postbox, designed to look like the Tokyo Skytree

The exhibits in the museum are super interesting for postcrossers! Here are mail carriers’ caps from the early 20th century. The caption says the straw hat was for summer. It’s cool, isn’t it?

An array of mail carriers hats are featured in an exhibition — including a straw hat.

And this is a replica of the postal snowmobile in the 1940s and 50s. Wow, we want to try to drive it, it looks like the perfect size for us!

A toy snowmobile (with caterpillar wheels and a fabric top) sits in an exhibition, among other postal cars. The Little Mail Carriers stand in the foreground, unfocused.

We also saw some cancelling stamps in the early 20th century. It’s always fun seeing old postal tools.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of two rows of old wooden tools to make postmarks

And at last, we arrive at the counter of the old post-office, used between 1920s or 1930s to 1988 at Kanda Sudacho Post Office, in Tokyo. How many postcards and letters have crossed this counter over the years? And how many stamps it must have seen!

The Little Mail Carriers stand with their little cart on the counter of an old post office. The wooden counter is topped with a grate.

Sadly, this is where our tour of Tokyo comes to an end. It was a lot of fun to return to Japan so many years after our trip to Okinawa, to discover a bit more of this fascinating country! Where do you think we should go next?

Thank you Hanako, for showing the little guys so many cool things about Japan! We’re dreaming of visiting and “collecting” all the cool manhole covers and special postmarks… 😍

54 comments so far

youmiko, Japan
👌so good!
rockgoogle, China
So good!!
yurakana, Japan
Wow! She is our Meetup buddy, my postcrossing teacher, and my friend.
I am really happy that she introduced me to Japan.
If I have the chance, I would like to host a small delivery person too 😊
DavidWong, Singapore
anotherphilatelist, Malaysia
how cute!
jugatmos, Philippines
Well done Hanako for hosting the Little Mail Carriers, I enjoyed the Tokyo tour very much! So proud of you my dear friend!
luvwhidbeyisland, United States of America
A fantastic tour of Tokyo! Thanks to Hanako!
shucho, Japan
I live in Japan but I’ve never been to many of the places 😅😅 now I wanna go to the museum so bad😄 such an amazing blog!!💕
Ginnywagner, United States of America
This was so interesting!
Thank you for the tour.
beesknees, United States of America
Loved this post - hoping to visit tokyo next year - japanese stamps are quite beautiful
CStar9, United States of America
Incredibly cool! Thank you so much for all this effort in putting it together!
lburr_2000, United States of America
I want to go to Japan!
Carygirl, United States of America
Loved visiting Japan. I saw the manhole covers, so cool. Also liked to visit various post offices. Very interesting compared to US.
Carygirl, United States of America
After I post comment, it says delete. Anyone know why?
dj_fission, United States of America
Thank you for sharing!
dj_fission, United States of America
@Carygirl: I believe that is a link that you can click should you decide you want to delete your comment.
Luziaceleste, Brazil
Always nice to follow these adventures and learn so much!
Sunshein, United States of America
Are there any active Postcrossers in less well-known countries (central Asia such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, Oceania, or the Middle East)? It would be fabulous to see how things are done there.
cspt, United States of America
I enjoyed living in Japan. Thanks for the article. To commemorate my fondness for my friends in Japan, the first two postcrossers who contact me with their mailing addresses will get a Japan-themed coloring postcard to decorate as they wish. I will send in an envelope!
Bethany_21, United Kingdom
This is a fun blog its nice to see all those things in Japan, I really want to visit Japan but so afraid to go alone but I am trying to work on my self confidence and saving my money for a trip to Japan :)
mounten, Italy
Wow what a nice story thanks for sharing.
poscronao, Japan
Thanks for sharing! I would love to go there!
mysweetlife63, United States of America
That was fun! Thank you.
triplightly, United States of America
Japan! Exotic, interesting and a dream location. Thank you for the tour.
babytreese, United States of America
That was great!!
JonathanChua, Singapore
Fantastic...time to go collecting cards n stamps (real stamps n pun intended)......
Mirfi, Australia
That was so interesting! So much to see and do in Tokyo. I'd love to go one day.
Whitelake, Russia
Thank you for sharing with us 👍
Smutjeline, Germany
ich finde das wunderschön.
Terry5, United States of America
Excellent tour, especially seeing the Postal Museum. Thank you!
wifetoalineman, United States of America
I love what these two are up to and their adventures. It is always fun to the places they explore and learn about their experiences.
Flippie, Canada
What a very nice story to share and What a trip for two little men.
belunelle, Canada
I enjoyed very much travelling with your 2 buddies! Great trip! Great article!
alexandra68cats, United Kingdom
Really enjoyed reading this, looking forward to see where they go next
kaila123, United States of America
some really interesting things on here. This is so great how they can spend the time doing great fun things
sixzi, China
Already in Japan? Welcome to South Korea and China! Just one hour away.
nta285, Indonesia
Thank you for sharing the story and photo!
This is really interesting! made me want to go to Japan :)
Can't wait for the next Little Mail Carriers adventure!
NIDUSKA, Finland
Thank you
alison41, South Africa
What a fabulous tour they had. The display of postcards on sale made me drool .... I wanted all of them. Japan seems to be very postally-orientated: wonderful to see in this digital age. Japan is on my bucket list. If I ever get there, I'll be mailing dozens of cards.
HookedonPostcards, Canada
Very interesting! Thank you for sharing.
Pixie_, Switzerland
Thank you. Was very interesting :-)
iphoto, Australia
How AWESOME are the ♡♡♡ Geshia ♡♡♡ envelopes 👏
akviinas, Latvia
Thanks for this trip! Made me think, what Little carriers could see if they came to visit Latvia! :)
Demmi, Romania
Yay! #justAwesome
ingrid, Germany
very intereting.
thank you for sharing !
idus, Germany
Great article 😃👍
DownGirl, United Kingdom
I would love to visit Japan and the little tour makes me think that I need to get organized and just go! Fantastic article.
cheerful_rabbit, Japan
Thank you for the amazing tour of Tokyo. There are so many places I want to visit!
This was a very enjoyable blog, full of new discoveries even though I live in Japan.
nisnoopy3, Malaysia
So happy that the Little Mail Carriers get to meet our friend, Hanako! Thank you for touring the city of Tokyo together and showing us so many interesting places! Speaking of samurai swords, I was hoping to see Mikazuki Munechika at Tokyo National Museum! I was introduced to him through Touken Ranbu Hanamaru & Katsugeki TV anime series. HA HA HA HA HA ! ! XD XD XD
Bilio, Brazil
What an incredible tour!
CuriousGeorge13, Canada
That's so awesome!!!! Well done!!!
They should Visit Canada!!!!!! :)
HeatherNicole, United States of America
How awesome and interesting!
safe_cantaloupe, United States of America
What a fun tour! Now I need to find some good soba to eat!
aratalab, Japan
Welcome to our country!
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