Living in Japan

How To Stop Getting Junk Mail in Japan

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve had enough. Enough of the apartments for sale, the community newspapers and the take out menus. I was like you, once. My previous apartment building had a bin beside the mailboxes. Every day, I’d open the mail, pull out a handful of chirashi (leaflets) and dump them in the bin, along with everyone else’s. Then the building attendant would bundle them up and put them out on recycling day. It felt like the biggest waste of resources. Eventually, I decided something had to be done. That’s when I did what you’ve likely just done: googled “how to stop getting junk mail in Japan.”

How to stop getting junk mail in Japan
Some of the very few pieces of junk mail that make it through these days.

How to stop getting junk mail in Japan

As it turns out, the solution is quite simple. It’s basically what I would have done back in Australia. I just wrote “チラシ禁止” or “no leaflets” on a small piece of paper and stuck it to the mail slot with double-sided tape. Of course, it would be much neater to print it out or even buy a “チラシ禁止 ステッカー” sticker from Amazon, but I went for the most immediate option.

I’ll admit, I was a little worried that there would be some kind of backlash. I’d never seen stickers like these before, so I wondered if it was considered a little crass or something. As my landlord (not so) secretly lives in the building, I was waiting for some kind of passive-aggressive note in response to my passive-aggressive sticker. But, one year on, there’s been nothing. And more importantly: almost no chirashi!

In the early days of living in Japan, all those leaflets were fun and exciting. But the novelty quickly wore off and I don’t regret my decision to stop getting junk mail. Just in case I ever get nostalgic for it, I did hold onto one particularly impressive HAND DRAWN advertisement from a few years back.

How to stop getting junk mail in Japan

I’ve been holding onto this for approximately three years—and it’s not because I want to lose weight. Whenever I see it and recognise a new detail, I smile thinking about the person who carefully created it, then photocopied hundreds of copies back and front. Inevitably I end up reminiscing about my younger days when a pencil case full of glitter pens and scented textas was all I needed to keep me happy.

With this little sticker, I’ve had success in two apartment buildings across two wards and hope you do, too!

See other tips for expats living in Japan here.

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