How to get pictorial postmarks in Japan (for travelers)

*This article was written on Jan.16, 2018. ->updated on Dec.08, 2023.

1. Pictorial Postmarks in Japan ( 風景印 : Fukei-in )
Hello, I'm Giraffe.
In this article, I'm going to explain "How to get pictorial postmarks in Japan" for travelers from overseas.
Perhaps you have seen a large and reddish postmark on a mail from Japan, like this.

Such a reddish pictorial postmark is called 風景印 (Fukei-in) in Japan.
In Japan, over 11100 post offices (45% of the whole) have its original pictorial postmark. It can be stamped on a mail which you are going to send instead of regular black postmark, and also on a card or notebook without sending (>=63 yen stamp must be put on it).

Each postmark indicates tourist attractions or local products near the post office with the date and post office name.
For example, Pictorial postmark of Hamamatsu (浜松) post office shows Eel(local products), Kite(local festival), Castle(tourist attraction), and Musical notes(lots of musical instrument manufacturers exist).

Pictorial postmark of Kyoto Uzumasa Sujaku (京都太秦朱雀) post office shows the famous temple "Koryuji" near the post office.

Pictorial postmark of Honjo Ichi (本所一) post office shows the Sumida River Fireworks Festival and Tokyo Sky Tree near the post office.

I've made a map of post offices that have a nice pictorial postmark and/or relatively easy to access. Please use it as reference.
Pictorial Postmarks in Japan for Travelers
(This map was created in 2018. Perhaps some postmarks have replaced to the new design, sorry.)

Here is the information page of Japan Post (since 2005-).
風景印 - 日本郵便

These pictorial postmarks can be stamped without sending a mail (>=63 yen stamp is required). So there are a lot of Japanese people that collecting these postmarks, and of course me too.
I often put a stamp on a small card and get a postmark like this.

(Toba post office / Toba City, Mie Pref.)

2. How to get a pictorial postmark at the post office
Now you are near the post office? It's nice. Please enter and go to the red counter (Most post offices have 1-3 kinds of counters. Blue for insurance, green for savings, and red for mail).
Let's show the sign below at the red counter to ask whether they have a pictorial postmark or not.

Is there a pictorial postmark in this post office? And what kind of picture is that?

If they have a pictorial postmark and you like it, let's try to get one.
If you don't have any stamps, buy a 63 yen stamp at the counter.
Please show the sign below.

I'd like to buy a 63 yen stamp.

^The left one is the definitive 63 yen stamp for ordinary use and you can buy it at every post office. The right one is another definitive stamp especially for a glad occasion (wedding, baby birth, celebration of longevity, etc.) and perhaps some post offices don't have this type (but most post offices have this, I think). You may choose whichever you like.
You can also buy commemorative stamps. But most commemorative stamps in Japan (self-adhesive type) are sold by a sheet (10 stamps), so you'll probably feel costly. Some "water-activated" commemorative stamps are sold individually, so you can choose and buy one from a sheet.
Most commemorative stamps are 63yen or 84yen type. 63yen is the domestic postage for postcard, and 84yen is for envelope.

Then, put the stamp on your card or notebook.
The diameter of a pictorial postmark is 36mm. Please make an empty space beside the stamp.

And please show the sign below.

Please put the pictorial postmark on this.

Then you can get the pictorial postmark without sending a mail. Isn't it nice?

(Rikubetsu post office / Rikubetsu Town, Hokkaido Pref.)

If you don't have any card or notebook, don't worry. You can also buy a simple postcard that postal fee is already printed (63 yen/sheet) like this.

If you want to get a postmark on this, please pay 63 yen and show the sign below at the counter.

I'd like to buy a postcard. And please put the pictorial postmark on it.

Then you can get the pictorial postmark like this.

(Kamakura Hase post office / Kamakura City, Kanagawa Pref.)

Some post offices sell attractive limited postcards. It's also fun to buy it and get a postmark on it (you must stick >=63 yen stamp on it).

^These postcards are the limited items of Yokohama Chuo post office.
Here is the list of limited postcards.

3. How to send a mail with a pictorial postmark
Pictorial postmark can be stamped on a mail from Japan to foreign countries.
In this case, a black English postmark must be stamped beside the pictorial postmark.

(Tokyo Chuo post office / Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)

But sadly, many postal staffs don't know this rule. They believe that it is impossible to send a mail with a pictorial postmark to overseas, so your request may be refused (sorry).
But if you want to try this, please show the sign below when you hand a mail to a postal staff at the counter. I wish you a good luck.

I'd like to send this mail. Please cancel this by the pictorial postmark.

In Japan, postal fees to overseas are updated on Oct.01, 2023.
Please check the new rates and delivery days.
Check rates and delivery days - Japan Post

Here is the list of definitive stamps in Japan.
普通切手一覧 - 日本郵便