〒, ゆうびんマーク【郵便マーク】, ゆうびんきごう【郵便記号】


The symbol 〒 is used in Japan to represent the post office and conventional mail. It appears on mail boxes, post office buildings, and post office publications. It also appears in written addresses before the 郵便番号(ゆうびんばんごう) "postal code." It is called 郵便マーク or 郵便記号(きごう). (The latter name and the English "postal mark" are the names of the symbol used in the JIS X 0208 character standard.)

At least two explanations have been offered for the origin of the symbol, which seems to have been adopted 1887. One is that it is a modified form of the katakana テ, which represented the first sound in the name 逓信省(ていしんしょう) "Department of Communications," or of the kanji 逓. (That government ministry existed from 1885 and 1949, when it was broken up into 郵政省(ゆうせいしょう) "Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications" and the short-lived 電気通信省(でんきつうしんしょう), the predecessor to today's NTT.)

The second explanation is that the postal authorities in Japan had originally planned to use a capital T as their symbol but modified it to 〒 after learning that T was an international symbol for inadequate postage.

A call to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in June 2000 failed to yield a definitive answer. In fact, the authorities who should know the history of such things seem uncertain about the origin of 〒.

「〒」マークの由来は?
郵便局を表す「」のマークは、そもそもは明治に郵便制度が始まったときに考え出されたものです。 最初は郵便局を管轄していた逓信省の頭文字のTを使おう としたのですが、すでに英国で郵便の別のものを表す記号ととして使われていた ので、かわりにカタカナの「テ」をデザインしたものです。 (Web, June 2000)

郵便マークはどうして「」?
1. 「」は、明治に郵便制度が始まったときに考え出されたものです。
2. 最初は郵便局を管轄していた逓信省(ていしんしょう)の頭文字のTを使おうとしたのです。
3. が、すでに郵便物の料金不足を表す記号として使用されていたので・・・。
4. かわりにカタカナの「テ」をデザインしたということです。
5. ザ・安直。 (Web, June 2000)

郵便〒マーク制定(1887) (Web, June 2000)

[ 452. 郵便マーク 豆知識 ]
郵便マークの「」は、郵政省の前身である逓信 (ていしん) 省の「テ」を図案化したものであると言われているが、それは大ウソ。最初は頭文字の「T」で決定していたが、発表する直前になって、「T」は郵便料金不足を表す世界標準のマークであることが判明。さすがにそれはまずいということで、急遽棒を上に1本加えて「」としたのが真相なのである。 (Web, June 2000)

A typical mailbox marked with a 〒. Below the symbol is a card listing the mail pickup schedule; several pickups a day are normal in urban areas. The two mail slots are for letters and postcards (left slot) and international, express, and other types of mail (right slot). Photographed June 2000.

(The sign in the lower left corner of the picture says 自転車放置禁止(じてんしゃ ほうち きんし), meaning that it is forbidden to leave bicycles in the area. Several bicycles are visible.)

From the cover of a pamphlet issued by the Japanese post office to encourage the use of seven-digit postal codes beginning in February 1998. Note the 〒 symbol on the forehead of the character ポストン (Posuton). The seven boxes along the character's brow are similar to those into which the postal numbers are supposed to be written on envelopes and postal cards that are mailed domestically.


This entry was created by Tom Gally, with additional contributions by Maynard Hogg and Fred Uleman.


Created 2000-06-15. MH's photograph of mailbox added 2000-06-16. Result of FU's phone call to MPT added 2000-06-19. Revisions by MH 2000-06-20 and 2000-06-21.

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