This symbol, Unicode decimal 12306, is the official logo of Japan Post, and appears on post offices, mailboxes, stores that sell stamps and postcards, and in writing to denote zip codes (I once lived in 〒565-0083). It is called 郵便記号 yûbin kigo or 郵便マーク yûbin mâku in Japanese, and is entered in most input method editors by typing "yuubin." In case you don't have it on your computer, it looks like this:

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Two theories circulate over the origin of this symbol. One states that it comes from the katakana syllable テ te, the first character in the postal ministry's original 1800's name, Teishinsho. The other states that the logo was originally a capital "T," before the agency discovered that "T" was an international symbol for insufficient postage, and modified the mark by adding an extra line.
If you think you've never seen the 〒 symbol before and you're a video gamer, then you probably have seen it and just don't realize it. Most Nintendo games that are produced in Japan that feature mailboxes include the 〒 symbol on the mailbox. Typically Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe do not bother to change the symbol when the games are translated for release in the rest of the world. After all, even if other countries don't use the 〒 symbol, including it doesn't make the game any less accurate.

Want to see the symbol for yourself? Pay close attention while playing these games...

  • Super Mario World / Super Mario Advance 2 - Go to Yoshi's House. There's a mailbox on the left side of the screen. Note the 〒 on it.
  • Super Mario RPG - The only mailbox in the game is on Yos'ster Isle. During the game it's where you can find a letter for Yaz and Yanni, the honeymooning couple. There's a 〒 symbol on the mailbox.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - There are a number of mailboxes scattered around Hyrule that can be used to send and recieve mail, and each one has the 〒 symbol on it.

And now you know why the 〒 is in these games. Who says Nintendo games aren't educational?

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