Monday, January 16, 2012

Will Miss #407 - sea mail and small packet

A box sent to us from a friend which had to be sent by airmail parcel post which cost a whopping $69. The value of the contents was likely lower than the cost of the shipping. I imagine our fate once we leave Japan will be to be relegated to such exorbitant fees or to not send anything to friends abroad.

Because my husband and I got together as penpals, and he spent a year alone in Japan during our "courtship", we are both intimately familiar with the respective postal services in Japan and the U.S. I sent no less than 200 parcels to him during our separation and he likely sent as many or more back to me. Back in those days, I could use a postal rate called "small packet" to more cheaply send my cassette tapes to him and I used sea mail to send hefty goody boxes to see him through the long months without Western junk food and reading material. Both of these rates are extremely important in keeping postal rates at a level that average folks can afford. Unfortunately, last time my husband tried to mail things from the U.S. to Japan (2-3 years ago), he got a rude awakening. The USPS eliminated both sea mail and small packet so now it costs a bundle to mail anything outside of the U.S. I can't imagine how our snail mail relationship would have gone without the existence of these rates back when we got together, but it wouldn't have been good. 

Japan still embraces both sea mail and small packet and it has made it much more reasonable to sell things by eBay to countries outside of the U.S. and to send things to friends or family. I will miss the option of these reasonable rates at the post office.