How to Address a Letter to a Missing or Dead Person, Animal or Object


Missing Post Office

Is there someone to whom you would like to ask a question or tell your thoughts even if you might not receive any answer? Would you like to write to someone and send your letter to an unknown destination? Have you ever thought to write something to a missing person, yourself in the future, an unborn child, your first love?

If you think this is impossible, you will change your mind after reading this article.

There is a place located on a small, screwhead-shaped island called Awashima, in the Seto Inland Sea in Kagawa Prefecture. Yes, we are in Japan and in this remote place Eastern and Western ocean currents collide. An island where many objects and people have been washed ashore. A coincidence? We don’t really know. But what it’s sure is that in 2013 the artist Saya Kubota decided to open the first “Missing Post Office” in the world.

Kubota Nakata Missing Post Office

It was meant to be a temporary installation art as part of the Setouchi Triennale in Japan. It was so successful that, since than, the office became a semi-permanent installation where real people come to send real written letters, still destined to unknown recipients.

If you really think hope and dreams never die but, on the contrary, they are fundamental to keep us alive, to have a goal, even if we know it might be unreachable, the “Missing Post Office” is the first and unique place where you can “post a letter like a message in a bottle, that will float on the sea of time”. A letter to anyone, anywhere, at any time, which might, one day, arrive there and be washed ashore to you as the reader.

This place might seem bizarre to many people, but it’s undeniable that it’s the only of its kind. This is the only place where you are able to address to anyone or anything:

Letters from: The past, present, future…
Letters about: Objects, incidents, places….
Letters to: Strangers, old friends, lovers, family, pets, imaginary or famous people….

Saya and Kubota Missing Post Office

Would you like to read some sample messages from the Drifting P.O. Box? Here they are:

“To my future grandchild,
When will you arrive? The sooner the better, come on and be born! I can’t wait to finally do for you everything I couldn’t do for my own kids.”

“Actually, I was hoping to do the folk dance at school with you. My heart was pounding with excitement as our turn together was coming around soon but… just before it happened, the song cut off.
Since then several autumns have gone by. What might have happened to you by now?”

When you died last summer I didn’t cry. When you were alive it was like we only said horrible and spiteful things to each other… If we met now I think we still would… But a year has passed and I have only loving memories from childhood left.
I have when we made pudding together.
I have when we read books.
I have when you bought me my piano. That was the happiest.”

Touching worlds, aren’t they? This project could be seen as a way to find a shelter from the storm of our anxiety, doubts or fears. A way to express our inner thoughts that we are afraid of telling openly. Or maybe just a concrete way to dream with open eyes, and if it’s so successful, it means it’s really working – at least in some people’s mind -Ed.). This project was such a success that they even opened a London branch (“MISSING POST OFFICE UK“) for a limited period, until 30th September 2016.

Saya and Kubota Missing Post

Do you have any message in a bottle to send? Would you like to participate in this peculiar project?

You can still post letters to:
Awashima 1317-2, Takuma-cho, Mitoyo-shi, Kagawa Prefecture Japan 769-1108

* You are requested to send them as international air mails.

And if you have the opportunity to flight to Japan, you are even welcome to directly hand your letters over to the original Missing Post Office staff.


What do you think about this project? Is it a piece of art, a social experiment or a service like any other around?

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