If you’re a very easy-to-distract or clumsy/clueless person, just like me, I’m sure you’ve left behind, dropped or simply forgotten your belongings more than once. I’ve been scared to death and then felt like coming back to life after losing my passport a couple of times (once a few minutes before boarding), forgotten my cellphone in a very crowded place such as a bar and, of course, just gotten off the train without my umbrella another hundred times. Good thing is that, most of the time, I got my stuff back. How come? Well, living in Japan this is a common occurrence.
You might have heard it, Japan is a very safe country. Crime does happen in Japan, but the crime rate is very, very low. In fact, some yearly statistics report that the most common cause of death for people aged 15-38 years old (or something close) is suicide. Police don’t normally carry firearms. In fact, owning a firearm is not allowed for a common citizen. And most people here have never seen a weapon in real life (Unless they’ve been hunting, a whole total different story). The homicide rate is very low, thanks partially to the ban of weapons, I’m sure. Besides parking bicycles on the street, petty crimes are also rare. Assault and theft are even rarer, I dare say. So, indeed, Japan is a very safe country. So safe that even if you lose something very valuable, like a brand new phone or a wallet full of money, an average Joe who happens to find it is very likely to just hand it to the nearest police box, or lost and found office in a train station, department store or any other public facility. Same goes for train station staff.
So, my point is, if you happen to lose something in Japan. Do not worry too much. Chances are you will get it back, but it might take a very long time. A Japanese friend of mine said today that it is not so rare to get a call about an item lost 2 years ago, for instance. My friend recently got his wallet back after 5-6 months. Guess what, his money was still there.
In a similar fashion to other countries, one must go to the Lost and Found office first to look for any lost item. If you happened to drop something while walking outside, then you have to report it to a police box. The official will ask you for a description of the lost property, specific features and what’s inside in the case of a bag or backpack, valuable IDs and more. After that you will be given a “case number”. Wait a few days and hopefully they will contact you with good news. It’s an easy system, right? The impressive thing is that your chances of success are very high.