Lost Items to be Returned to Their Owners.

Lost Items Returned to Their Owners

People from overseas get amazed by the high probability of lost items being returned to their owners in Japan. According to statistics from the police, the number of lost items taken to the authorities in 2015 is 3,783,260. Out of those lost items, 73.2% of all lost cash, 63% of lost purses, and 81.9% of mobile phones were returned to the rightful owners. In Japan, people care enough to take lost items to the nearest police box when they spot them. So, what do those items go through until they get returned to the owner? We interviewed the staff at the “Lost and Found centre at Tokyo Metropolitan Transportation”.

Lost Items Returned to Their Owners
Lost umbrellas are separated by the train line on which they were found and then stored.

They Register and Control the Lost Items on Their System

As an example, let’s take a look at a bag that is left on a platform. It is taken to a station clerk and the date, the place where it was found, the colour and the shape of the bag and its contents are registered onto the lost items control system. If the item has the owner’s contact information, they may call them directly. It gets returned if the owner contacts them within a few days and the ID of the owner is identified, but other than that, it gets sent to the Lost and Found centre at Tokyo Metropolitan Transportation. Then, they register those items by the date transferred to the centre, the category of the items, the train line where it was found and after a day or two, they will store that item for the next 3 months at the Metropolitan Police Lost Property Centre. Although lost items get transferred to different places constantly, as it is registered on the system, it is easy to identify where the item is at any specific time. If it is stored at the Metropolitan Police Department, you can also search for your lost item via the lost items search function on their website.

They Register and Control the Lost Items on Their System
Each lost item has a tag with a barcode which contains information about the item

The Lost Items Treated with Care

The number of lost items transferred to the Lost Property Centre is about 300 to 400 items per day. Nowadays, the amount of lost smart phones and IC cards is increasing. In the past, they have received bows for kyudo (Japanese archery), fans for a ventilator and a beetle in an insect cage. After a rainy day, they receive a lot of umbrellas. If they are still wet, they dry them before putting them into storage. During the rainy season, you can see lots of open umbrellas all over the centre. As for perishable items, they get thrown away after a day. If they received a lunch box with food still in it, they throw away the contents, wash out the lunch box and then store it. They treat lost items like these with such care. In Japan, lost items get taken to the authorities, stored with care and get returned to their owners. The chain of Japanese peoples’ care is a great custom that they can be very proud of.

The Lost Items Treated with Care
The registration of lost items and the receipt of the lost item to the person who took it to the authority (especially for cash) are controlled by paperwork.


When did it happen? We can find the statement ‘Make sure to take the lost items to the authorities if you pick them up’ in the 28th clause of the ‘Elder Rules’ which were established in 718.
Where can we see it? There are lost items everywhere including on public transport, commercial facilities and on the streets. If you find some lost items, please take them to the station staff or a police box nearby.
Best suited time of the year or of the day? There are more umbrellas left after rainy days and more gloves and scarves in the winter.
Data The amount of lost items taken to authorities in 2015: 3,783,260
(According to the Metropolitan Police Department)
Please note If you put your contact details onto valuable items, then you have a higher probability that those items will be returned to you if you lose them.