I used to hang out in the central Shinjuku post office in Tokyo an awful lot. During my brief and shameful period as a freelance English ‘teacher’, my student Chiyo and I would meet every week in the post office for a lesson. Yes, in the post office. I was sick of yelling explanations of gerunds over the Starbucks coffee grinder, and Chiyo was sick of the shitty coffee. So we decamped to the P.O., where we would set up camp in one of the many nests of tables with comfortable chairs, presumably there to accommodate people’s stamp-licking and bill-paying needs. Occasionally people would write letters at the tables. And still others would take advantage of the free seating and just slump there, drooling. It was warm in winter, cool in summer, and nobody ever kicked you out – although they did give you some funny looks.
After our lesson was finished I’d always linger near the stamp display downstairs, where you could buy all sorts of special-edition stamps. Here are a few from my collection. (And yes, in case there’s any doubt – the ones that look like they’re Dick Bruna are indeed Mr Bruna, who pops up everywhere in Japan.)
Shinjuku Post Office
1-8-8 Nishi Shinjuku
:: Arwen ::