日本の郵便制度【The Japanese Postal System】

April 20, 1871, the first steps were taken to begin the national postal system in Japan, by Mr. Hisoka Maejima,” the father of the postal system.” He patterned it after the systems he had seen in Europe and Great Britain. In 1873, the new Japanese postal system was nationalized and monopolized by the government. Postal rates were standardized and in 1877, Japan joined the Universal Postal Union and abolished all foreign post offices in Japan.


How did the Japanese handle mail before the 1870s? In 646, a system of post horses was established for communication between government and military centers in Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. The word “post” comes from the place these horses were kept. That system began in the T’ang Dynasty (618 – 907) in China. Some historians say Genghis Khan invented the first postal delivery system. America’s Pony Express mail service had the same roots and was extremely efficient. However, it only lasted about two years.


In 718, mail stations were established to make communication with Heijokyo (Nara), the capital, easier. Later, this system deteriorated, only to be revived by the Kamakura Shogunate. During these two ancient periods, the Shukuba Machi (post towns) were built and prospered. Later, these towns came to be major population centers in Japan. The Shukuba Machi declined in the years between the Kamakura and Edo Eras, but eventually, they were again revived. This tradition lasted into the 1870s, until the innovations brought about by Mr. Maejima were put into effect.

718年、平城京とほかの地方との通信を容易にするため、駅が設立されました。この制度は衰退しますが、後に鎌倉幕府によって再興されます。この二つの時代の間に、宿場町が生まれ活況を呈しました。その後、こうした宿場町は日本の人口集中地区へと発展していきます。 宿場町は、鎌倉時代から江戸時代の間に一度衰退しますが、その後再び活気づきます。そしてその繁栄は、前島密によって画期的な郵便制度が実現される1870年代まで続きました。

The postal system became a profit-making business by 1900, and today there are more than 2,300 post offices in Japan. The Japanese Post Office does more than handle mail. It is also a kind of bank, which is very popular with the people.

郵便制度は、1900年までに黒字に転じ、日本には現在2300を超える郵便局があります。 日本の郵便局は単に郵便物を取り扱うだけでなく、一種の銀行としても機能しており、人々にたいへん親しまれています。

These days, postal workers benefit from the use of many machines and computers. The Japanese Postal System handles more mail every year than any other country in the world, except the United States. The Postal Code System – a way of numbering geographical areas like the U.S. zip code system – was adopted in 1968 by Japan. Matsue’s postal code is 690.

近年、郵便業務も機械化やコンピュータの導入が進み、今や日本の年間郵便物取扱量は、アメリカに次いで世界第2位となっています。 1968年には郵便番号制度が導入されました。ちなみに松江市の郵便番号は690‐××××です。

Don’t you think the postal system in Japan is exceptionally good, and very necessary to our lives? I do, and I also admire its efficiency. In 1980, the Japanese Post Office handled 15.8 billion pieces of mail. It’s a very busy business!


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