What is postacollect?
Postacollect is a large number of different collectable goods sold by the Japanese Post Offices here in Japan. Although this blog says “postacollect”, I am actually only concerned with the small subset of Regional Form Cards called “gotochi form cards” that depict famous goods, events, and places for each of the 47 prefectures in Japan. Gotochi means basically “where one comes from”, but usually translates simply to “regional”. Postacollect just sounded better as a blog name!
What are Regional Form Cards?
Regional Form Cards, or “gotouchi forumu kaado” (ご当地フォルムカード）in Japanese are cards that depict the most famous goods, places, people, and events for each of the 47 prefectures in Japan. These postcards are larger than regular postcards, and are the shape of what they depict instead of being rectangular. Because of this, they are interesting to look at and collect.
Where can I buy them?
Officially, these postcards are only available at post offices in Japan in each specific prefecture. For example, if you want to buy the Tokyo postcards, you can only find them at Tokyo post offices. Therefore, you must visit each individual prefecture to buy them.
However, you can sometimes find them being sold on auction sites such as Yahoo Auctions Japan or ebay, or join a postcard swapping site such as postcrossing.com in order to find others who collect, who might be willing to swap.
How can I found out if the post office is open?
This is one of my biggest complaints with gotochi: you can only buy them if the post office is open, and through most of the country the offices are closed nights, weekends, and holidays… times where it is MOST likely for tourists to buy them! So, how can you see if there is a post office open? The easiest way I’ve found is to search in google maps for “郵便局”, yuubinkyoku in the area you want to visit. When you select one from the list, the website is listed. About 60-70% of the time it will lead you to the official post office page that looks like this. If you scroll down past the map to the orange-ringed box, the first set of times after the red button is the information of the postal counter where you can buy postcards and stamps. If it is not open, you CANNOT buy the cards even if other areas are open!
The picture above shows the 郵便窓口 (yuubinmadoguchi) where postcards are bought, as the very first set of times after the red mark. From left to right, the sections are 平日 (weekdays), 土曜日 (Saturdays), 日曜日・休日 (Sundays and holidays). Check the times for the post office to see if they are open to buy. This post office pictured is the main post office right next to Tokyo Station. It is called 東京中央郵便局, with 中央 (chuo) in the middle meaning “central”. With any city, if you can visit the “Chuo” post office, you will have the best chance of it being open! So I recommend trying Chuo first, as well as checking through google maps the times. Most post offices are 9-5, and often closed on weekends, so it’s always good to check first before going and being disappointed!
How much do they cost?
Each card costs 185 yen as of the tax increase in April 2014, if you buy from the post office. Buying them online is usually more expensive, as they often sell for 200-300 yen not including shipping.
How many are available?
One full set of 47 cards has been released since 2009, so currently each prefecture has 8 cards available. Therefore as of July 2016 there are 376 cards to collect. You can see each set released from these links:
Alternately, to see each prefecture’s set individually, you can click on the map of Japan located here to see them. Although the prefectures are listed in Japanese, at the bottom the prefectures are listed in English so it is easy to find the one you’re looking for.
What does “retired” mean?***
In 2014 with the release of the 7th set of postcards, Postacollect also announced that they would cease production of 1 card from each prefecture. You can read the announcement about the retired cards, as well as see a list of which card from each prefecture, here.
Unfortunately, the retired cards are not all from 1 set, but instead are from the 1st through 4th set, making it difficult and annoying to complete an entire book without spending a lot of money. I don’t know why they didn’t just retire one complete set, but I assume they retired the least popular card for each prefecture.
***New 2016.07.07: All retired postcards will be re-released starting July 16th 2016 due to high demand. Therefore all cards are available from that date.
What are the Mini Cards?
The mini cards are a miniature version of each normal sized postcard that came out around 2011. If you buy 5 normal-sized postcards, you can get one mini free of charge. Usually this means 5 of the SAME postcard gets you one mini, but some post office workers are more lax than others, and may be fine with ANY 5 postcards, or even sometimes if you ask nicely, will get you a whole set of minis if you buy a set of postcards. It really depends on the worker.
Can you send me XX card?
Sorry, no! I don’t have time to fill requests, and even though each individual card is relatively inexpensive, it still adds up, especially when you are trying to collect the mini cards too! I am, however, a member of postcrossing.com (username postacollect). If you are interested in swapping, please find me on that website or the forum to arrange a swap! I swap for gotochi only!
If you have any other questions not covered here, please feel free to comment and ask!