Furusato Japanese stamps are also known as Japanese prefecture stamps or Japan furusato hometown stamps. The literal translation of of the word furusato (Japanese Hiragana character: ふるさと pronounced fu-ru-sa-to) means hometown. They are a great example of the variety of Japanese postage stamps.
As with regular national Japan stamps, hometown furusato stamps are valid for postage, but are mostly regarded as valuable collectibles by Japanese stamp collectors and philatelic fans.
So what kind of Japanese prefecture stamps are out there?
There are roughly 1000 different furusato stamps. General themes such as animal, nature, flower, and landscape prints are very common.
Besides the aforementioned, furusato Japanese stamps include the following categories:
Furusato Stamps (a selection of varies hometown stamps)
Japan Furusato Matsuri Stamps (also known as Japan festival stamps)
Furusato Travel Scenes (i.e. furusato prefectural travel scenes series)
Furusato Hometown Stamps (i.e 'kokoro no fuukei' or furusato scenes in my heart stamps series)
Okinawa Furusato Stamps (Hometown stamps from the Ryukyu Islands)
Furusato Prefecture Stamps (i.e. flowers of the Japan regions furusato stamps)
Contrary to common belief, none of the 47 prefectures in Japan issue their own kitte or stamps including furusato hometown stamps.
The Japan post service is the only national issuing authority of Japan postage stamps and began issuing Furusato Japanese stamps only in 1989.
However, furusato stamps are available for sale at the prefectural post offices. The Japanese stamp catalog indexes furusato prefecture stamps under the prefix 'R' whereas the Scott catalog lists them at the end of the Japan stamps section with the prefix 'Z'.
How do you recognize Japanese prefecture stamps? If you can't read Japanese characters, this can be a bit tricky. Nonetheless, there is a simple way of telling.
Normal Japanese stamps have the following inscription printed on them:
日本郵便 NIPPON, which means Japan Yubin or Post (the word 'Japan' in Japanese can be either read as 'Nihon' or 'Nippon').
Notice that the characters and letters in the screenshot above are printed in modern type font.
Now, Japanese furusato stamps have the same inscription on them, but in a more calligraphic style font:
And comparing a normal Japanese with a Japan furusato stamp:
However, around 2007/2008, the Japan Post discontinued the use of distinctive font style inscription on their furusato hometown stamps. As such, for new issues Japanese stamps, the difference between a regular national and a hometown prefecture stamp can only be told by looking for the prefecture name imprinted at the bottom of the stamp.
If you would like to have a more detailed look at the vast array of exquisite and exotic furusato Japanese stamps currently available, please check out the various sub categories.
Enjoy! And don't forget to also have a look at the other great Japanese stamps available here. Besides Japanese furusato prefecture stamps, the new issues, anime, and commemorative Japan stamps are worthwhile to discover.