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What to do if you lose your phone/wallet in Tokyo
What to do if you lose your phone/wallet in Tokyo

If you’re visiting Japan and you’ve just lost your phone/wallet, take comfort in the fact that Japanese people are famous for returning lost items in lost and found instead of taking them. Even when 3/11 struck, many Japanese people refused to loot abandoned convenience stores and supermarkets. You’ve got a good chance of getting back your lost items in Tokyo.

We’ve all experienced that moment of panic when we slip our hands into our pockets and we find them empty—oh no, where’s our phone? Where’s our wallet? For most of us, the moment of panic is thankfully brief and is over when we realise our belongings are simply in a different pocket or in a different bag compartment.

However, for the unfortunate few who’ve dug through every drawer and looked under every piece of furniture and come up empty-handed, our condolences. The despair is crippling and even more so in an unfamiliar country. Here are some ways you can get your lost items back. 

What to do if you lose your phone wallet in Tokyo Getting drunk and wasted in Tokyo and lossing wallet and phone

Many of the following methods I’m about to share with you would proceed much more smoothly if you speak Japanese. If you don’t, try to have a Japanese-speaking friend with you. 

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

Useful phrases

Japanese words and phrases useful for talking to Japanese people

When you have lost items in Tokyo, first things first, you gotta know what ‘phone’ and ‘wallet’ is in Japanese.

‘Phone’ is ‘keitai’, pronounced ‘kay-tie’. It sounds similar to ‘mai tai’, as in ‘mai tai cocktail’. 

‘Wallet’ is ‘saifu’, pronounced ‘sigh-foo’.

If you left your phone/wallet behind in an establishment, you tell the establishment, “keitai/saifu o wa-su-reh-ma-shi-ta (携帯/財布を忘れました).” It translates to, “I forgot my phone/wallet here.”

If you’re not sure where or how you lost your phone/wallet, you go, “keitai/saifu o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta (携帯/財布を無くしました).” It very plainly means, “I lost my phone/wallet.”

Keep these phrases in mind and use them accordingly!  

If you’ve lost your phone/wallet in an establishment: keitai/saifu o wa-su-reh-ma-shi-ta

Japanese phrases used when I lose phone or wallet

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of Tokyo, whether you’re making friends in a bar in Shinjuku or catching soft toys in UFO-catchers in Akihabara arcades. So caught up in the moment, you may leave your phone or wallet behind. If a person picks it up there, they’ll probably turn it in to the staff, and they’ll keep it for you. Things are pretty straightforward then. 

You may want to first use Google to look up the establishment’s phone number. If you speak Japanese or if you have a Japanese-speaking friend, give the establishment a ring, describe your lost items to them and see if they have it. Bear in mind that these establishments will probably tell you that they’ll check and call you back, so you’ll need a working phone number. 

If you can’t find their contact information online, or you don’t speak Japanese, or you don’t have a phone number they can call you back at, actually visit the establishment itself. 

Whether you’re calling or visiting the establishment, use these phrases:

Keitai o wa-su-reh-ma-shi-ta (携帯を忘れました) = I forgot my phone here 

Saifu o wa-su-reh-ma-shi-ta (財布を忘れました) = I forgot my wallet here

If don’t know exactly where you’ve lost your phone/wallet: keitai/saifu o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta

Drinking in a bar and forgetting bag in Tokyo after a night out

If you can’t remember exactly where you’ve lost your lost items in Tokyo, hopefully you remember the area you were in at least i.e. Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, etc. If you remember the area (or if your ‘Find My Phone’ app says it’s in a specific area), visit a koban (a police box) in that area and use these phrases:

Keitai o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta (携帯を無くしました) = I lost my phone 

Saifu o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta (財布を無くしました) = I lost my wallet 

The police officers may ask you when you lost it. Here are some common responses:

Kinou (pronounced ‘key-noh’) = yesterday

Yuube (pronounced ‘you-beh’) = last night

They will then ask you to describe it; what kind of phone/wallet it is, what colour it is, and so on. Thereafter, they will check to see if anyone’s turned it in. 

Japanese people at night in the bar asking about lost properties

If no one’s turned it in yet, this is where things can get a little troublesome. They will ask you to fill out some forms about your lost items in Tokyo, they’ll give you a case number, and they’ll contact you (either via phone call or e-mail) when/if someone turns in your phone/wallet. Not to dishearten you, dear reader, but in my personal experience of helping friends retrieve their items, this method has proven successful just once. 

If you’ve lost your phone/wallet at a train station: keitai/saifu o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta

Japanese trains after lossing phone and wallet

Every train station has a lost-and-found counter where you can inquire about your lost items in Tokyo. If you remember the specific train station you lost it at, speak to any train station staff member there and they’ll direct you to the lost-and-found counter or information counter. Use these phrases:

Keitai o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta (携帯を無くしました) = I lost my phone 

Saifu o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta (財布を無くしました) = I lost my wallet 

The train station staff will follow the same protocol as the police boxes. They’ll ask you to describe it and then they’ll check to see if anyone’s turned it in.

If you’ve lost your phone/wallet on a train: keitai/saifu o na-ku-shi-ma-shi-ta

Lossing phone and wallet on trains in Japan

Approach one of the train stations on the same line you took when you lost your phone/wallet i.e. JR Yamanote, Hanzomon, Ginza, etc. You take the same steps as above, except this time you tell the train station staff which station you boarded the train at and which station you got off at. Here’s how you do that:

[station 1] de notte, [station 2] de o-ri-ma-shi-ta = I boarded the train at [station 1] and alighted at [station 2]. 

Allow the train staff some time to contact the other lost-and-found counters at other stations on the same line. 

If you’ve lost your phone/wallet in a taxi: keitai/saifu o wa-su-reh-ma-shi-ta

Lost phone after drinking in Tokyo Japan

If you still have the receipt from when you took the taxi, give the taxi company a call, and give them all the information on the receipt: taxi number, the time you got on, the time you got off. The taxi company will first contact the taxi driver to see if s/he found your phone/wallet. Thereafter, they will call you back, so you’ll need a working phone number. 

Lost and Found Center

Lost in Found in Japan JR Stations
Credit: Tokyo Station

If the above methods have all failed, make a visit to Tokyo’s Lost and Found Center, a brand of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department in Iidabashi. Uncollected items from police boxes and taxis are sent there after a certain period of time and will be held there for three months. You will be asked to fill out some forms to open a formal ‘investigation’. 

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/s6h8mv6jSTorEsi2A
Website: https://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/multilingual/english/index.html
Tel: 0570-550-142

Losing your phone or wallet in an unfamiliar country can be very distressing and we hope the methods we’ve laid out for you here will be of some use. Good luck!


Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!


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