Awashima’s ‘Missing Post Office’ opens London branch

by

Kyodo

A poste restante, or general delivery, service in Japan started a “branch” in central London on Tuesday, accepting letters addressed to anyone or anything.

The original “Missing Post Office” is located on the small island of Awashima in the Seto Inland Sea and has received more than 10,000 letters so far.

The office receives and displays letters and any other correspondence sent from across the country to people whose whereabouts is unknown or even those who have passed away and are considered as departed to another world.

Created by Saya Kubota, a 28-year-old Japanese artist, she refurbished the old Awashima Post Office building as part of the Setouchi International Art Festival in 2013, where she displayed the letters in tin cans.

Nowadays, Katsuhisa Nakata, 81, who used to work at the former post office, serves as the Missing Post Office postmaster and opens it to the public twice a month.

When Kubota spent half a year in London from March 2015 to learn art restoration skills, a female Japanese curator recommended she open a branch of the Missing Post Office in London and Kubota agreed.

Missing Post Office U.K. will be opened in an Anglo-Japanese friendship promotion facility and operate through Feb. 22.

It will display letters collected through four special post boxes — identified by a gold emblem in the motif of a crown and a postal sign — installed in a library and three other local places in the U.K.

The boxes opened at the end of last September and letters in English, Italian and Chinese have been collected.

The letters are scheduled to be displayed again during this fall’s Setouchi Triennale on Awashima.

Bryan Payne, who has worked as a postal employee for some 30 years, will serve as the postmaster of Missing Post Office U.K. at Kubota’s request after the pair met during a postal event and hit it off.

“People are connected beyond cultures,” Kubota said. “I am looking forward to reading a variety of letters” at the London branch, she said.