The “Ryu” Stamps of Japan

20 Apr 2018  Fri

On 20th April 1871, Japan issued the first Postage stamp of the country. Known as the Ryu stamps, these stamps are a wonderful collectable specimen.

The story of Japan's postal system with its postage stamps and related postal history goes back centuries. The country's first modern postal service got started in 1871, with mail professionally travelling between Kyoto and Tokyo as well as the latter city and Osaka.

The Japanese government witnessed the establishment the foreign postal services in its own land. The British maintained post offices in Yokohama, Nagasaki and Kobe. France had an office in Yokohama using French postage stamps. The United States opened post offices in Yokohama, Nagasaki, Kobe and Hakodate using US stamps. The Japanese Government was greatly influenced by the foreign postal system.

In 1870, Baron Maeshima visited London to learn the workings of the British postal system and founded Japan's postal system in 1871. The first stamps were issued in April 1871, in a set of four covering the different postal rates.

Featuring a two-colour design, the stamps consisted of a brown 48 Mon; navy blue 100 Mon; orange 200 Mon; and green 500 Mon denomination. Each stamp has a pair of dragons facing each other and has the actual value of the stamp printed in black ink featuring Japanese Kanji characters.

“Ryu” in Japanese means dragons. Hence, these hand-engraved stamps are also called the Dragon Series.

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