How to Open a Mailbox with a Dial Lock

How to Open a Mailbox with a Dial Lock


Japanese Culture & Customs



One common question from foreign residents new to Japan is how to open a mailbox with a dial lock. This kind of mailbox can be found in some older properties, and even some young Japanese are not familiar with it.

Though it looks simple at first, opening it can be quite complicated. In this article, we explain the steps for opening a mailbox with a dial lock.

Check out the video explanation here

1. Points of Caution

If you are having problems opening a mailbox with a dial lock, do not try to force it open with an object. You should also avoid squeezing your hand through the hole to get your mail, as this may injure your hand or damage the mailbox. In case you damage the mailbox, you may be liable to compensate for any repairs or replacements.

If the mailbox is included with rental housing, it will usually have a combination preset by the landlord or the management company. Check your contract or contact the management company to ask for the combination.

2. Opening the Dial Lock

The dial will have normally have the numbers 0 to 9 (some types may also include letters along with numbers). There will also be a dot, protrusion, or other small marking positioned at the top or the bottom of the dial. 

You open the lock by turning the dial to line up the numbers of the combination with the marking. However, you also need to turn it towards a specific direction, either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

If you make a mistake with the combination while trying to open the lock, you need to reset it first by turning the dial clockwise for a full 2 or 3 rotations.

3. Example

Let’s say for example that the combination of your lock is “right 6 twice, left 0 once”. In this case, to open the lock, you need to do the following:

1) Turn the dial clockwise to line up 6 with the marking, then turn it all the way clockwise again to 6.

2) Turn the dial anti-clockwise to line up 0 with the marking.

3) Open the mailbox by pulling the dial or handle outward.

If you entered the combination correctly, the door on the mailbox should open easily. If it does not open, you probably entered the combination incorrectly. In this case, turn the dial clockwise for a full 2 or 3 rotations to reset the lock, then try again.

For reference, there is also a video explaining how to open the dial lock, so check it out.

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