Want To Make Accurate Delivery Easier? Please Write In Romaji

Posted on: 17 October 2016

If you have to ship something to an address in Japan from the United States, it can be tempting to write the address in kanji. You would think that would make the delivery people in Japan happy as they wouldn't have to interpret romaji, even though delivery services there have no trouble with the romanization system. However, it's much better to use romaji for the address even if you're fluent in Japanese and have no trouble writing kanji, for several reasons.

Avoiding Lucky-Guess Shipping

When the post office or other delivery service accepts your package, it's not going to see the country and then send the package to a random post office there. There's no main receiving point for all foreign packages in Japan. Offices in the United States might not be familiar with the format of Japanese addresses, either, so an employee might not be able to tell the difference between the postal code and the home or building's street address. If they can't locate the postal code and the city name is in kanji, the employees won't know where in Japan to direct the package. Even if the city is one that isn't very familiar to people outside Japan, if it's in romaji, it can be looked up more easily.

Messing up the Kanji

If you don't know how to write kanji well, don't attempt to write it on the package. Even if you've been studying, there's a good chance your kanji may still look like something written by a very young school child, which can be difficult to read and be oddly proportioned. That just makes the address harder to read.

Getting Lost — in Another Country

There's always the chance your package will be sent to the wrong country just through normal bad luck, and there's no guarantee the service that receives the package there will have employees who speak Japanese. In a perfect world, people would be able to look something up using any writing system, but right now, most computer systems used for mailing are set to use a Latin alphabet. It will be easier for the delivery service people who accidentally get the package to look up Sendai or Kagoshima using romaji than it would be to try to puzzle through kanji.

Using kanji may be well-intentioned, but remember the phrase about how certain undesirable roads are paved with those good intentions. If you really want to make delivery to Japan easier, have the package delivered by a service dedicated to shipping only to and from Japan. They will be completely familiar with Japanese address formatting and be able to get the package to the right place.