jp advice 02

The Internet is full of sample sentences and letter structures to use when writing business mail, cover letters, or press releases. They’re an invaluable resource if you wish to be taken seriously, especially when you’re not used to writing letters for professional purposes.

Now, the Japan Post is extending their helpful how-to section to include more than just business examples. They’ve got sections for season’s greetings, ceremonial matters (such as invitations and notifications), and even personal letters! Apparently, the art of letter writing is so lost on Japanese people that they require a standard format to follow for the confidence of writing to one another. There are 19 categories outlined in the personal letters section, including advice, requests, and even marriage proposals! It’s like Japan has been taken back to the days of passing notes in middle school! “Do you like me? Check yes, no, or explain your decision using the standard letter format outlined by the Japan Post.”

Japan Post is an incredibly reliable mail system. They can always be counted on for reasonable shipping prices, on-time deliveries, safe money sending, and even a trustworthy bank system! They know their customers and understand that thanks to the wide use of texting, few people have practice sending physical mail. Unfortunately for the postal system, Japanese people have a bad habit of avoiding the things which they are not confident in, so to help inspire a new wave of letter writing, Japan Post has compiled a list of more than 300 sample letters encompassing every topic, from business mail to marriage proposals.

By far, the most interesting category is the relationships section, with 19 samples, encompassing all sorts of scenarios. For example, here’s the sample they provide for asking someone on a date via letter.

Please forgive me for writing to you so suddenly.
As it turns out, I have obtained two tickets to a concert at [place] on [date] at [time] for organ music by Bach.
I seem to recall that during lunch break the other day you said that you really love music, so I thought…
I decided to write you this letter because it is difficult to talk about personal matters in the workplace, and to say these things face-to-face would be quite embarrassing. If we could go together, it would make me very happy.
Do you think your circumstances will allow it? I will be waiting patiently for your response.

Aside from leaving an impression of social incompetence, there’s something sweet that can be said for receiving such a well-intentioned letter. This could very well be the start of a beautiful relationship, full of awkward meetings and delayed communication! It could perhaps flourish into letter-reliant love!

Oh, but what if things progress quite far and you find yourself with a message asking for your hand in marriage! But, say, you cannot commit to a lifetime of stamp-licking with your shy lover. True to form, Japan Post has an example for how to phrase your refusal in letter form as well!

Dear [name],
Thank for the letter conveying your emotions to me.
I have thought long and hard on the matter, but I’m afraid that I am not yet ready for marriage. In response to your feelings, I’m very sorry.
I feel that for the next few years, I must give work my complete focus. You may wish to say that you will support my decision to continue my career even after marriage. However, what would happen to us if, for example, you were transferred to another job location? It’s difficult to say. The whole act of marriage is not something that can be done with ease.
I’m sorry for saying something so selfish. I was really happy to have your affections. And, it is out of respect for your feelings that I gave such serious deliberation to my answer.
I hope you live a good life. Don’t overdo it, and please take care of yourself.

A bit harsh, is it not? Of course, not every sample letter has to do with love. Here’s one for asking a person to pay back the money you lent them, in a way that will make you the most polite creditor the world has ever known.

Now, the reason I am contacting you today is the [money] amount that I lent to you [number] months prior. The stipulation was that you would repay the full amount by [date]. However, that deadline has already passed. I’m terribly sorry to be making such demands, but is there anything you can possibly do?
I believe I mentioned when I gave you the loan that this money is necessary for me to make payments on my own car loan. I must make the payment by [month], so if you could give me at least a concrete date for when to expect repayment, I would be very grateful.
I understand that you must have your own circumstances, but I humbly ask that you please take care of this situation.

Other letter-writing scenarios include telling a person that they’re working too hard, complaining about noise levels, showing condolences for the recently unemployed, and relating problems between husbands and wives. It’s certainly a thorough resource, though I can’t help but feel that many of these things would be better said in person…

Source: Japan Post via Hatena Bookmark News (Japanese)
Top image: sweetharvey on Etsy