Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "curiosities"

We’ve written before about the Underwater Postoffice in Vanuatu, and we thought at the time it was the only place you could post a letter underwater in the world.

Well, turns out that isn’t quite true! Postcrosser Cindy (aka cindybeaule) let us know about an underwater post box in Susami, Japan, which was put in place in 1999 as part of a fair to promote the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. It’s a collaboration between the former postmaster, a man called Toshihiko Matsumoto, and the local diving community. Waterproof postcards are sold in the dive shop, and you have to write your message using waterproof oil-based markers, so the message won’t wash off.

You need diving gear to even reach the post box, because it’s 10 metres below the surface. It’s actually in the Guinness Book of World Records because it’s the deepest post box in the world, and they have a certificate to prove it! The boxes are made of cast-iron, so there are actually two used in rotation, so they can be cleaned and repainted.

I even did some more poking around, and it turns out there are a few other underwater post boxes. There’s one in the Malaysian island of Mataking, another one in the Jemeluk Bay Underwater Gallery in Indonesia, and two “dry” ones: an underwater observatory in the US Virgin Islands and the Risør Underwater Post Office in Norway.

You can watch a whole mini-documentary about the post box in Susami on Youtube—we were amazed to learn that there had been over 38,000 special waterproof postcards sent from this underwater post box at the time it was filmed in 2018. I wonder if any Postcrossers have ever sent or received a card from Susami…? Do let us know!

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The Bridegroom's Oak

We love unusual post offices and mailboxes and have featured a few on the blog over the years, from Galapagos to South Africa to the underwater Post Office of Vanuatu. Today’s special postbox comes from somewhere a bit closer to us here in Europe, and is said to have magical matchmaking powers…

The Bridegroom’s Oak is a 500 year old tree in the Dodauer Forst forest in northern Germany, close to the Baltic Sea. It is a special tree, which has its own postal address! Why would it need its own postal address, you might ask? Well, hundreds of people write to the tree every year, in search of a love partner, someone to share their lives with. The tradition is said to have started from this story:

“The name of the tree derives from an incident in the late 19th century. The daughter of the head forester, Ohrt, and the son of a Leipzig chocolate maker, Schütte-Felsche, were in love but her father disapproved of the relationship, so they secretly exchanged letters by leaving them in the hole in the tree’s trunk. When Herr Ohrt gave in and granted his permission, they were married under the tree on 2 June 1891.”

And the rest is history, as they say! As their love bloomed and the story spread, many people started to write to the tree and visit it to read each other’s letters in the the hopes of finding love. So many people came that in 1927 Deutsche Post put up a ladder and gave the tree its own address. A postman was assigned to deliver these letters in a hole on the tree, and this continues to this day.

Many weddings have happened as a result of these letters and encounters, including the one from Karl-Heinz Martens, the postman who for years delivered mail to it. His wife wrote to him through the tree’s address after seeing a report about his special “tree-postman duties” on a TV channel, and they ended up meeting and falling in love. How sweet is that?

Interested in giving it a try, perhaps? :) The Bridegroom Oak’s address is:

Bräutigamseiche
Dodauer Forst
23701 Eutin
Germany

Let us know how it goes!

PS – A big thanks to Nhung (aka tthn235), who did the research for this post.

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The Galápagos islands are known for their diverse wildlife, studied by Charles Darwin on his trip around the world. Every year, many people visit the archipelago to get a glimpse of the giant turtoises, penguins or unique bird species… but also to send and pick up mail!

It all started a couple of centuries ago, back when the island was regularly visited by whaling ships. The ships stayed at sea for long stretches of time, often years, and so communication between the fishermen and their families was difficult. To solve this problem, in 1793, Captain James Colnett established a post office of sorts in Floreana island — a simple wooden barrel where mail could be left to be picked by other visitors. Ships often stopped on Floreana island to do repair works or pick up water and food, so sailors started taking the mail which was destined to their home ports with them, hand-delivering the missives to their intended recipients by hand.

6115186004 bef9b1b707 z Photo by claudiah on Flickr.

The place became known as Post Office Bay and to this day, visitors still rely in the kindness of strangers to bring their letters and postcards home (mailing items with stamps is considered cheating!) — and to tell the story of how these missives made it home! :)

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Did you know that the oldest (unofficial) post box in South Africa is not an actual box… but a tree?

It’s true! In 1500, Pêro de Ataíde, captain of a Portuguese ship returning from the East, left a letter under a tree in Mossel Bay. The letter detailed the loss of some of the ships on their fleet and warned of troubles in the eastern seas. It was customary for passing ships to stop on the bay to take on food and fresh water, and so some years later, the letter was discovered and delivered to Portugal by another sea captain.

This was the start of the South African postal service, as seamen often left correspondence there, in the hopes of it being delivered by passing ships.

Post office tree

The impressive milkwood tree is said to be over 600 years old, and still stands there overlooking the bay. It has been declared a national monument, and a postbox was set up under it with its own special cancellation mark and everything! The postbox sits on what is now the Bartolomeu Dias Museum complex.

Mailing a postcard home Special cancellation mark

A big thank you to Cathy, the South African member who pointed out this tree for us and took the nice photos above. That is her auntie Chris on the left, mailing a postcard home!

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By now most of you have probably noticed the small variations in address formats in different countries. But did you know that some of these are actually rooted in distinct perceptions of space?

This short video we found on youtube explains this concept, and a few other cultural differences.

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