A widespread discussion was ignited among Twitter users of Japan recently over the act of delivering pigeons through delivery services such as Yu-Pack, the courier of the Japanese post office. It started – as these things often do – with an award-winning manga writer taking a hike through the mountains.
Mari Yamazaki is a manga artist known for her acclaimed series Thermae Roma, which tells the story of an architect from ancient Rome who is able to travel back and forth to modern Japan.
This enlightening discussion regarding the plausibility of mailing a living creature all sprang from a tweet (ha!) by Ms. Yamazaki regarding an injured pigeon she had come across.
“I just remembered something; one time I was on a mountain in Japan. I found a homing pigeon with an injured wing, so I called the number written on a band around its leg. “Oh, Could you Yu-Pack it to me, please?” Replied the voice on the phone. Would Yu-Pack really dare to carry the bird over the several days it would take to reach the owner 250km away?”
The manga artist never said what she actually did with the bird in the end, but based on her tweet she may have delivered the bird personally.
Nevertheless, her message was retweeted around 3,000 times by others curious about the act of sending carrier pigeons by courier. Among the numerous replies were some from people connected to the delivery business.
“I used to work in a post office. Over six years I received two parcels with carrier pigeons in them LOL. I thought the addresses on them were similar, so it might have been the same bird twice. Despite what you might think, the pigeon seemed fine.”
“I’m currently a postal worker. One time I received a Yu-Pack parcel with a live chicken inside. While it was riding in the truck it would cock-a-doodle-do as the sun came up.”
You might be wise not to believe everything you read from anonymous twitterers. However, if you check the Japan Post website under the “Sending Live Animals by Yu-Pack?” section, you’ll see hato (pigeons) listed among the other examples of animals you can send by courier. It’s also fine, apparently, to send such creatures as turtles, lizards, stag beetles, and parrots.
As more evidence, the Japan Pigeon Racing Association mentions that Nippon Express offers pigeon delivery. A pigeon racing blogger even shows the box which has a pigeon on it (pictured above) as a part of the Nippon Express Racing Pigeon Delivery Service.
Ms. Yamazaki was ultimately satisfied by the closure to her musing.
“I didn’t know carrier pigeons were actually sent back and forth so much… Pigeons that can’t return by their own power and shipped back are probably called “lame” by their cagemates.”
So next time you come across an injured pigeon in Japan (which should be in the near future for all of us) you’ll now feel confident that you know exactly what to do!