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Sending Packages In Japan: A Guide To Parcel Delivery Companies

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How do you choose the right courier company when sending a parcel in Japan? This article compares domestic delivery services offered by Yamato Transport, Sagawa Express, and Japan Post. Please use this article as a reference when shipping your next package.

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Features of Japan's Home Delivery Companies

Deciding on which delivery company to use when sending a parcel in Japan can be difficult.

Many Japanese companies offer home delivery services, including Yamato Transport (a.k.a. Kuroneko Yamato), Sagawa Express, and Japan Post (Japan Post Holdings Co., Ltd.).

This article will feature these three prominent parcel delivery companies. We'll explain their unique features and list some important points to keep in mind when choosing a courier company.

At the end of this article, you'll find a comparison chart of the three companies. Feel free to use this as a reference when sending domestic packages in Japan.

1. Yamato Transport (Kuroneko Yamato)

Send Packages In Japan! Compare Delivery Services Of Yamato, Sagawa Express And Japan Post

Photo by Pixta

Yamato Transport is symbolized by a black cat ("kuroneko" in Japanese) featured in its company's logo. This is why the courier company is called Kuroneko and is popular among the general public.

Among door-to-door parcel delivery providers, Yamato delivers the most number of packages in Japan.

Moreover, the company refers to its home delivery service as "takkyubin" (宅急便), which translates to "shipping and fast delivery at home." Each kanji character is an abbreviation of a word that reveals Yamato's motto: "With our service (便), staff hurry (急) to your home (宅) to deliver packages on time."

In fact, "takkyubin" is a registered trademark that cannot be used by other companies.

Official Homepage: Yamato Transport Co., Ltd.

Yamato's Main Features:

● In addition to having nationwide sales offices, they have teamed up with convenience stores. Customers can send or receive packages 24 hours a day.

● They offer attentive service, and packages are delivered on time.

Kuroneko Members can use the messaging app LINE to receive notifications regarding delivery times, attempted delivery notices, and so on.

Important Points to Keep in Mind:

● Shipping costs tend to be higher than other courier companies. However, they do offer discount services. For example, you can save money by taking your package directly to the sales office or registering as a Kuroneko Member.

For more information on discount services, please refer to this link: Sending and Payment Methods (including discounts)

● Delivery times are available in these five time slots:
8:00-12:00 (morning), 14:00-16:00, 16:00-18:00, 18:00-20:00, and 19:00-21:00.

● Prices vary according to the size, weight, and destination of the parcel. The size and weight will be measured at a Yamato sales office.

2. Sagawa Express

Send Packages In Japan! Compare Delivery Services Of Yamato, Sagawa Express And Japan Post

Photo by Pixta

Sagawa Express is the second-largest parcel delivery company in Japan after Yamato Transport.

Its employees are easy to spot, wearing blue and white uniforms that create a crisp appearance. There is even a photo book called "Sagawa Danshi" and calendars featuring male drivers posing in their signature uniforms.

Official Homepage: Sagawa Express Co.

Sagawa's Main Features:

● They deliver regular-size to large parcels. There's even a service called Hikyaku Large Size Express, which delivers packages up to a maximum weight of 50kg (110 lbs) and up to 260 cm (sum of the width, length and height). You can also ship musical instruments.

● Delivery times are divided into seven time slots: 8:00-12:00 (morning), 12:00-14:00, 14:00-16:00, 16:00-18:00, 18:00-20:00, 18:00-21:00 and 19:00-21:00.

● Shipping costs are less expensive than Yamato Transport.

Important Points to Keep in Mind:

● Among the three delivery companies in this article, Sagawa has the fewest number of sales locations. Your parcel may not be delivered in the requested time slot.

● It's not possible to drop off your parcel for delivery at convenience stores. However, you can pick up a package at Lawson or Ministop convenience stores.

● Sagawa doesn't have an official LINE account. You can track your parcel's delivery using the Sagawa Express iPhone App (Japanese) or Sagawa Express Android App (Japanese).

3. Japan Post

Send Packages In Japan! Compare Delivery Services Of Yamato, Sagawa Express And Japan Post

Photo by Pixta

Japan Post (Japan Post Holdings Co., Ltd.) sits in third place for the most number of parcels delivered in Japan. Packages delivered from a post office are referred to as Yu-Pack.

In addition to domestic deliveries, they also have a full spectrum of services for international deliveries.

Official Homepage: Japan Post

For information on overseas deliveries, please refer to the MATCHA article below.

Japan Post's Main Features:

● Japan Post has an electronic delivery notification (Japanese). If you register with an official LINE account, you can be notified of the date and time of your parcel's delivery.

● Delivery times are divided into seven time slots: 8:00-12:00 (morning), 12:00-14:00, 14:00-16:00, 16:00-18:00, 18:00-20:00, 19:00-21:00 and 20:00-21:00.

Important Points to Keep in Mind:

● Most post offices in Japan are open until 17:00 on weekdays.

If it's difficult to visit during regular business hours, you can request a free pickup of your parcel at home (Japan Post Pickup Service). This request can easily be made on the internet.

Japan Post Web Pickup Service (Japanese)

● A limited number of Lawson, Ministop, and Seicomart convenience store chains offer Japan Post services.

Choose the Courier Company That Fits Your Needs

If you're looking to have a regular-size parcel delivered, there isn't a huge difference between the three delivery companies featured in this article.

However, if you have a special request such as a large-size parcel or international delivery, we recommend a more detailed comparison.

Yamato Transport Sagawa Express Japan Post
Regular-size packages
Large packages
Same-day delivery
International delivery
Sales counter business hours
Web shipping notification
Safe delivery and compensation

◎: Excellent ○: Good △: Available

Home delivery staff in Japan do their best to ensure that your package is handled with care and delivered on time.

So when sending or receiving parcels in Japan, please say the following Japanese phrases to a courier service worker: "Arigato gozaimasu (Thank you)" and "Otsukaresama deshita (Thank you for your hard work)." It's a kind gesture to express gratitude for their efforts.

Main image by Pixta

Written by

Originally from Chiayi, Taiwan, I majored in history in university. I'm a history geek and otaku living in an old downtown area of Tokyo. I have worked as a journalist for a Taiwanese business magazine, public relations manager for Mos Burger Taiwan, and as a marketer of American skin products in Taiwan. Currently working as a freelance of writer. Visiting castles in my free time. As a storyteller, I only write about things that I saw, heard, and researched myself. Every word of my articles reflects what I personally thought and felt. If you have some time, do read some of my stories.
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