If you’re visiting Japan and find yourself in the unfortunate situation of losing your phone or wallet, take heart in the fact that Japanese folks are known for turning in lost items to the Japan lost and found rather than keeping them for themselves. Even during the chaos of events like 3/11, many Japanese citizens opted not to loot abandoned convenience stores and supermarkets. So, rest assured, you stand a good chance of retrieving your lost belongings in Japan.

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We’ve all had that moment of panic when we reach into our pockets and find them empty. Oh no, where’s our phone? Where’s our wallet? Luckily, for most of us, it’s just a fleeting panic, resolved when we discover our belongings in another pocket or bag compartment.

But for the unfortunate few who’ve searched high and low, rummaging through every drawer and peeking under every piece of furniture, our hearts go out to you. The despair is crushing, especially in an unfamiliar country.

So, in this blog post, I’m introducing some phrases for retrieving your lost items in Japan.

Japan Lost and Found: What to do if you lose your phone wallet in Japan

Keep in mind that time is of the essence! Act immediately the moment you’ve realised you’ve lost your belongings. 

Useful Phrases You Can Use at Japan Lost and Found

Losing your phone or wallet can be a distressing experience, especially in a bustling metropolis like Tokyo. However, knowing a handful of important Japanese phrases can greatly ease the process of retrieving your belongings.

Firstly, it’s crucial to know the Japanese words for the items you’re seeking. The word for ‘phone’ is ‘keitai’ (けいたい), pronounced ‘kay-tie’, which may remind you of the ‘mai tai’ cocktail. For ‘wallet’, the term is ‘saifu’ (さいふ), pronounced ‘sigh-foo’.

Should you leave behind your phone or wallet in a location such as a café, store, or restaurant, approach an employee and express, “Keitai/saifu o wasuremashita (携帯/財布を忘れました),” translating to, “I forgot my phone/wallet here.” This simple sentence can effectively convey your predicament to the staff.

Japanese phrases used when I lose phone or wallet

In situations where you’re uncertain about where you lost your items, whether it’s after exploring the shops of Harajuku or the gardens of the Imperial Palace, the phrase to use is: “Keitai/saifu o nakushimashita (携帯/財布を無くしました),” meaning, “I lost my phone/wallet.”

When communicating with establishment staff or police officers, it’s beneficial to be as detailed as possible about the time and place you believe you lost your item. The police may inquire “Itsu nakushimashita ka?” (“When did you lose it?”), and you can respond with “Kinou” for ‘yesterday’ or “Yuube” for ‘last night’. You’ll then need to describe your item. For example, “Shiroi iPhone” means “a white iPhone”, or “Kuroi saifu” for “a black wallet”.

If you are directed to fill out paperwork, be thorough and precise. Although the thought of bureaucratic procedures might seem daunting, Tokyo’s systems are well-organized and staff are typically very helpful.

Lost phone after drinking in Tokyo Japan

For items misplaced during your commute, every train station in Tokyo is equipped with a lost-and-found office, and the staff there are accustomed to dealing with such situations daily. In the event of a lost item on a train or at a train station, provide the line name and the stations you traveled between. For example, “Ginza-sen de Shibuya kara Omotesando made ikimashita,” meaning “I traveled on the Ginza line from Shibuya to Omotesando.”

If your misfortune occurs in a taxi, keeping the receipt can be invaluable. The receipt will list the taxi’s identification number and journey details, which you can provide to the taxi company when calling. If you’ve lost the receipt but remember the taxi company, a detailed description of your journey and the time can still be helpful.


Despite the inconvenience and anxiety that losing an item can bring, Tokyo is known for its efficient lost and found system and the honesty of its residents. The likelihood of recovering your phone or wallet is relatively high, particularly if you act promptly and follow these guidelines.

Bonus Tip: Asking for Help at the Lost and Found Center

Lost in Found in Japan JR Stations
Credit: Tokyo Station

If none of the previous methods yield results, your next step should be to visit the Lost and Found Center.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Lost and Found Center is located in Iidabashi. This facility serves as the central collection point for items that remain unclaimed at police boxes and taxis. After a certain period, lost items are transferred here and retained for three months. Upon visiting, you will need to complete several forms to initiate a formal inquiry into your lost items.

You can find the Lost and Found Center on Google Maps here and learn more about their services on their website. If you need to contact them by phone, their number is 0570-550-142.

Losing personal belongings in a foreign country can be incredibly stressful. We hope that the steps outlined here will help you recover your items swiftly. Best of luck in your recovery efforts!

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