Shipping Individual Items in Japan
After arriving in Japan, many are, more often than not, very surprised and impressed with the efficiency and speed of Japan’s postal and delivery services. In addition to Japan Postal Service, there are multiple independent shipping companies, but the one that literally dominates the market is called “Kuro-neko Yamato”, (Kuro-neko=black cat) or generally just Yamato in English. Personal Shipping in Japan is called “Ta-kyuu-bin” (宅急便 lit. house fast postal).
Yamato has various options for shipping. Shipping can be done from any one of their outpost locations, you can request items be picked up at your own home by phone or internet, or perhaps the thing which makes them the most reliable and widely used is that items can be shipped from convenience stores at your leisure anywhere in the country. They of course offer international options as well, at a much more competitive rate than the national postal service.
It’s difficult to go even a day in an urban area in Japan without seeing the Yamato logo in one way or another making the rounds around town, as they may be delivering anything as simple as a few documents, to a large piece of furniture. Yamato operates in tiers so to speak of shipping methods, so even if you are not on the main roads, it is common to see workers on bikes or motorcycles making local deliveries in neighborhoods.
This has actually been common practice for some time with multiple shipping companies in Japan. Aside from the fact that it saves money, navigating through Japanese neighborhoods is simply infeasible in terms of space and maneuverability. Even on some of the main roads where you may have to turn into a neighborhood, a bicycle is the solution for smooth, and moreover safe navigation of the windy thin roads of Tokyo neighborhoods for example.
This is another common sight in Japanese cities. Used for larger objects, and the unique “Cool-ta-kyuu-bin”, which is very popular for shipping local delicacies to family members far away (this service keeps food frozen or fresh, and delivers it at top speed). Just stay out of their way, because they’re on a mission to have the quickest and most reliable postal service ever.