I've read that the postmaster in Japan guarantees delivery of cards (nengajo) on January 1st but I got my latest one today. Either my students are slack (but still thoughtful) or the postmaster is a big fibber.
My husband and I used to get more cards than we do. We don't send out any ourselves so I guess it's a suprise we get any at all. Most of the ones he gets are made by his students and handed to him in his lessons. The card at the top was one of those cards.
The same student also made the Christmas card above. She's a very good artist and I've seen some other things she's drawn by hand including a drawing of Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Spain. Despite the fact that this art looks somewhat fetishistic and has the torn look of modern collages, she is actually capable of drawing quite realistically. I'm not certain but I think she made these as composites on her computer and did the drawings on the computer and that's possibly why they're more stylized than her previous work. When I first looked at the New Year's card, I didn't even realize that that was a boar on the card.
A lot of my students and co-workers have mentioned that New Year's cards are a burden and they don't necessarily enjoy writing them or receiving them. I guess that makes them little different from people in the U.S. who aren't fond of the practice of giving and receiving Christmas cards. Like many old snail mail practices, the original purpose of holiday cards was to keep in touch with people who lived faraway and had little contact with you. These days, with e-mail and phones, I think people would just as soon not make the special effort on festive occasions.
Some New Year's cards include a postal lottery opportunity and the recipient can win a little money if their number is drawn. You have to compare the numbers on your card with a list in the Japanese papers. On the card pictured above, you can see the numbers across the bottom. I've received a fair number of such cards over the years but never checked the numbers. Who knows how many millions of yen I've given a pass on? ;-)