Japan’s Postal Network and Postcards

Japan’s postal system really does a crack up job. Some of that comes down to geography, some of it comes down to history. Japan closed itself off for several hundred years prior to the 20th century. It had a lot of “me” time to focus on its overland highway system, getting messages from one village to the next, transporting goods quickly, and all the rest. That streamlined focus of the postal system carried over into the modern era. Even today, letters rarely take more than a full day to reach their destination. Packages can usually be delivered within three. Japan Post and independent couriers like Yamato make package deliveries seven days a week, 9 AM to 8 PM. Not around to receive your package? Just call the number on their delivery slip and schedule a re-delivery whenever is best for you, even as little as an hour later! It really is bizarre…

Well, the snow is starting to really settle in, just in time for the New Year. In the past few days I’ve had the privilege of obsessively tracking several parcels sent from the U.S. for Christmas. As relatives cursed the heavens at the inefficiencies of America’s postal service (our boxes took more than a week to finally get on a plane to Japan), I was pondering on a trip we took about 10 years ago with my in-laws along the Nakasendo. I already documented my stay a long while back, but I thought I share some hand sketched postcards that I bought on that trip. They really capture the overall mood of the old postal towns.

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