The Magic of Lost & Found in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

The Magic of Lost & Found in Japan

By Guidable Writers Oct 21, 2017


Recent Trend in Japan

It is said that “If you lose something in Tokyo, it will almost certainly come back, even cash”. Indeed, last year lost items equivalent to more than $ 30 million were delivered to one of the police boxes (Koban) in Tokyo. Because of this, police has had to put in a lot of effort to manage lost articles to be safe, to meet expectation of visitors from foreign countries.



For example, Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist cities in the world and it will soon be the colorful autumnal leaves season. In 2015, the number of lost items delivered to the Kyoto prefectural police was about 610,000, which was 10% higher than the previous year. Among them, 238,317 cases, accounting for 40% of the total, are gathered in the area of “Shimogyou police office” territory, where many tourist spots such as Kyoto stations and shrines and hotels are located, it surpassed the previous year by 17,734.



“I think that 10% of the total is from foreign tourists. Although there were many from China last year, it seems that the ratio of Westerners and Taiwanese people is now increasing. In many cases tourists cannot speak fluent Japanese and we have to get by using hand gestures or through use of a translation application, it is a great struggle for us. ” (Chief of Shimogyou police office). Typical examples of tourists’ lost belongings are mobile phones, passports, wallets and credit cards.

Good stories about “Lost & Found”

Tourists often drop something important at a shop, a train, a taxi, a station, etc. The other day, tourists who came sightseeing around Kyoto from Taiwan lost a bag on the city bus, that contained their passports. They totally panicked saying, “Tomorrow we have to go back to Taiwan, but we cannot do it without passport!!”. So I called the city bus service station to enquire and there was the bag. Tourists from Taiwan repeatedly said “Thank you, Thank you” in Japanese, according to Chief of Shimogyou police office.



In Japan, unlike overseas, lost articles often get returned completely intact. More surprisingly, the money in the wallet is safely returned, that is close to a “Miracle”.

Police Box where people rely on

People overseas often talk about the fact that “You can find it in the police box, even if you drop your wallet in Japan.” Indeed, when losing valuables in Japan, the probability of “Found” articles delivered to police boxes and delivered to the owner’s hands is 72%, which is a fact said to be accepted as a shock figure for people in overseas.

Other stories about Lost & Found in Japan

There are several stories from people visited to Japan Lost & Found of valuables;


“I dropped my commuter pass (commuter passes are usually one, three or six months worth of rides and are usually very expensive) at Hakata Station, I was almost crying and looking for it but I could not. Finally I went to Lost & Found center in the station and there it was. The fact was that the station cleaning staff had found it, I knew the same thing cannot happen anywhere else. ”



“When I lost my wallet in a bullet train (Shinkansen), it was sent to the hotel I stayed in, which is in a completely different direction, via Takkyubin (Delivery Service). This was a trip I accompanied with my friend and I borrowed some money from him until my wallet returned. ”

Although this is not the case of a lost wallet, it is still a wonderful story from a Swedish blogger. “When I forgot a bag in a Tokyo cafe, it was still there even after a couple of hours.”

“I have lived in Japan for 5 years, but most things come back; it’s the great place of the Japanese people”

Other Opinions, aspects & thoughts…

Even Japanese people may have experiences that some of the lost things have come back or experiences that some things that have been carelessly left remains, but some say that there are many conscientious people overseas;


“It is true that Japan is wonderful, but here is a story outside of Japan. I dropped my wallet that I put in $7000 when I was young, but an African-American man picked up it and gave it back to me. He did not receive a reward. That was at Dallas airport ”


Also, someone say that there are friends from other countries who have things stolen in Japan, “Someone got his umbrella stolen three times, and also kickboards. Maybe it is not be as secure as it used to be”. The topic of lost-item reporting in Japan is also introduced overseas, but there are many impressions somewhat overestimated, of stolen umbrellas and bicycles in Japan too. Nevertheless, we are proud to say that the majority are good people who deliver lost wallets with good faith, hopefully.