Sunday, January 1, 2012

nengajou highlights








The highlight of every New Years Day is the nengajou (Japanese new year greeting postcards) that arrive sometime during the morning. People sending traditional nengajou must slip the cards through the specially-labeled nengajou slot in the mailbox before a pre-determined deadline (usually around December 24) in order to be guaranteed delivery on January 1. The cards that make the deadline arrive on New Years morning in a bundle fastened with a rubber band. At the top of the bundle is a greeting from the Japan Postal Service with their best wishes for the new year. The cards that don't make the deadline get delivered with the regular mail, after the holiday is over, and after the postal service is back to normal operation.

I just love the excitement of waiting for nengajo delivery on New Years morning! The images posted here are my favorites (so far) among the artsy cards from this year's haul. Some are hand-painted originals, others are prints made from original artwork. I expect more will trickle in after the holiday is over. Eventually, I will store them in a special nengajou card album. I refer to these albums when it's time to make next year's nengajou address list. I also refer to the album in twelve years' time when the oriental zodiac comes full circle, to get inspiration for my own etegami nengajou designs.

This year's zodiac animal is the dragon, and most of the cards I received, even the majority that were not handmade, depicted a dragon of some sort. Sea horses count as dragons, as they are called "dragon children" in Japanese. But the zodiac animal is by no means the only felicitous image for a New Year card. Mt.Fuji, a brilliant sunrise, red-crowned cranes, flying kites, the otafuku mask (as in 2nd image from the bottom) and many more images are used for nengajou.

Dearest friends and followers, May you have a blessed and joyful 2012!

16 comments:

  1. Nice Nengazyou. I like the tradition. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are excellent. Did you make one too?

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Sylvia, I will show you the nengajou that I designed this year in my next post. A couple of my dragon ideas are already posted here: http://etegamibydosankodebbie.blogspot.com/2011/09/dragons.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. You brought the excitement of going to the post on January 1st to collect nengajyou so palpable that I almost felt if I went to my mailbox there would be some waiting. The cards you featured are delightful. I thought it was very clever of you to keep a file for reference.

    Looking forward to seeing the one you designed this year.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It must be really exciting! Much more than receiving emails...
    I like the one with the eagle and the mountain, it makes me think of my hometown, L'Aquila (which means "The Eagle") that I left three years ago.
    Happy new year, Debbie!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi,Debbie,
    Thank you for wonderful nengajou and the nice post! I really want to write it in Japanese. 明けましておめでとうございます。今年も宜しく御願い致します。お体に気を付けてご活躍を心よりお祈り申し上げます。Kind regards,Sadami

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a wonderful tradition. Jan 1 must be an extremely busy day for the postal workers.

    Happy New Year Debbie,
    Ev

    ReplyDelete
  8. These are amazing!!! May I please have these instead of Christmas cards? I love this ritual and if I was there, would be in the thick of it! Happy New Year!! Margie

    ReplyDelete
  9. what an awesomely creative tradition!!!! I had never known of this before...thanks for sharing so colorfully!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy New Year Deb! Thanks for all your interesting and inspiring posts this year.... this one included :o)

    ReplyDelete
  11. All FUN! Great post to bring in the New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I didn't know this! How lovely the seahorse is!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful cards! Unfortunately in China there is no similar card tradition :-(

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hadn't heard of this tradition before, I like the sound of it - is it common to make one's own cards and send them?

    ReplyDelete
  15. @AHAviews, Yes, many people in Japan make their own cards, though it's most common among children and retired people-- the two groups that have the most time for such things.

    I have made my own New Year postcards since childhood. Etegami is not the only folk art that is used for self-made New Years postcards. Another folk art employed for this tradition is chigiri-e (collaged images made from various kinds of hand-torn washi paper). Block prints (lino-cuts, silkscreen, potato stamps, etc) are popular too.

    Stylized calligraphy is also popular for New Years postcard designs (writing the character for "dragon" in a way that makes it appear like a dragon, for example). I wouldn't call that folk art, but it is popular.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Debbie...SUPER TRADITION! Thank you for the mail art received on Monday.."the year of the dragon". HUGS *!*

    ReplyDelete

I REALLY appreciate feedback. It may take a while for me to moderate comments so don't worry if your comment doesn't show up right away. And sorry, please no anonymous comments.