How to Create a Japanese New Year’s Greeting Postcard
It's one way of sending heartfelt wishes to your loved ones.
We all have beautiful and unique ways of celebrating the New Year. In Japan, New Year’s Eve is also considered one of the most important events of the year. During this period, the Japanese busy themselves with traditional activities such as cleaning the whole house, eating special New Year’s food called Osechi, and more.
Besides this, the Japanese also have a custom of sending out New Year’s greeting postcards called Nengajo. If you’re traveling to Japan this season, you’ll find a special postcard corner at the post office or stationery shops starting the end of November. You can also choose from various designs of postcards available there.
Want to experience this custom in Japan? Here’s everything you need to know about the Nengajo.
The Nengajo postcard design is usually the Chinese Character of the Year. This 2020, the design will be a mouse. Some people will prefer buying blank postcards so they can draw the design themselves.
Recently, self-printed postcard has also become popular in Japan. The design of this postcard is typically that of family photos or photos of one of the children in that family.
Since it is a New Year’s greeting postcard, the message written inside the Nengajo is usually a New Year greeting in Japanese such as Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu or Kinga.
Shinnen, which both mean “Happy New Year!” Aside from this, you can also choose to add messages of gratitude for the assistance the person has given you the past year, wishes for good health for the recipient, and hopes for keeping good relations with that person for the following year.
The best time to send out your Nengajo is from December 15 to 24, so that it will arrive at the recipient’s address on January 1. Around this time, you can find special post boxes dedicated for Nengajos in post offices around Japan. Make sure you don’t insert your normal postcards or envelopes inside this Nengajo special box.
An important note: You cannot send a Nengajo to someone whose close family member has passed away in the previous year. If you receive a postcard called Mochu Hagaki (mourning postcard) from a person around the beginning of December, then that means you shouldn’t send him/her a Nengajo.
One more thing to know: If you receive a postcard, which was bought from a post office, you will most likely find a lottery number. If lucky, you can win prizes such as cash, vouchers, or special food products from some areas in Japan.
But even as this New Year’s greeting postcard custom has had a long history, the number of Japanese people sending these cards has been decreasing. Parts of the reasons are technology and social media, which allow people to send warm wishes and greetings to their loved ones more conveniently.
Despite this advancement in technology, it remains important to cherish these traditional ways of sending greetings to friends and family. After all, it’s also one way of showing them the effort you put into sending them these heartfelt messages.
(28 November 2019)