New Years Postcard Frenzy!

December 12, 2008 at 3:34 pm 2 comments

The holiday season is in full swing which means that 2009 is just around the corner. For most Americans, New Year Day is reserved for nursing that after-party hangover. For Japanese people it’s the day to wait at your mailbox.

They call it nenga-jo, New Year’s postcard greetings typically inscribed with messages like, “I wish you good health and happiness” or “I’m sure I will be indebted to you this year as well.” You send them out to most anyone you know, especially the people you wish to keep in contact with. When I received my inaugural batch, about 40 in all, I was humbled knowing how many friends I’d made. I also felt bad I left off so many off my own list.


The entire process reminds me of my elementary school days when we’d pass out Valentine Day cards to classmates. Some kids splurged on cartoon-trademarked cards with Sweet Tarts. Some of the less fortunate resorted to making their own with scissors and a grocery bag. Some received more cards than others. Like Charlie Brown, some got hand-me-downs. The Japanese New Year card is the adult version of that same ol’ popularity contest.

The obsessed Japanese person will spend major bucks on them, buying printer machine or decorating the cards with colorful rubber stamps. Many people do away with the handicrafts and get them professionally done with glossy photos of their family or their prized parakeet. However way they do it, one of the most important things to do is handwrite a short personal message like, “How’s your mom?” or “See you at school!” That way it makes the person feel more special.

Though these days as people get a little more lazy and reliant on modern technology you’ll see more people simply texting or emailing their New Year’s message to friends. It might not feel as grand, but it still does the trick. First one to have their inbox flooded wins!


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. himawari  |  January 3, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Ah yes, thanks Tokyo 5. That’s an interesting point. Makes nengajo more exciting to get. =D

  • 2. tokyo5  |  December 13, 2008 at 7:53 am

    You didn’t mention the Post Office’s New Year lottery drawing where you win prizes if you have a 年賀状 (New Years postcard) with the right numbers printed on the reverse side.


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