Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year's Cards

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 pre-made card from one of my students (who I assist with subtitling movies and T.V. shows).

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? ;-)


Helen said...

You can check your nengajo numbers on-line after the numbers are drawn...Somewhere around the 15th I think. Just google the Japan Post Office. They have an English Website. They still have last years numbers up so if you still have the cards you can check how much you missed out on last year!

I've never won more than some free stamps. :-(

I do send nengajo and Christmas cards...I make my own nengajo with stamps...the Christmas cards I buy. I got a lot back this year, so I"m happy!

Shari said...

Thanks for the information about checking the numbers, Helen. I doubt I've ever won much either. I think most of the students who I've asked have only said they've won stamps or very small amounts of money.

I've never gotten into the habit of sending New Year's cards and I doubt I'll start now. Part of the problem is that I don't have mailing addresses for most of the people who I may want to send them to. Part of it is that I feel no pull to do so.

I guess Canadians are better at Christmas cards than Americans...or everyone I know is just really a slacker when it comes to sending real mail. ;-)

Helen said...

I'm not sure about that, but here's a story from when I first came to Japan....I went to Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture with two other teachers. One was American, the other was another Canadian. Each night us two Canadians wrote postcards to our friends and family, the American teacher just laughed at us! It's something I still do when I'm on holiday. I know how much I loved getting postcards and letters when I was young,so I try really hard to send some to my niece...and nephew although he's still a bit too young to read them!

Having a Japanese husband does mean that I had to do nengajo my first couple of years of marriage, now I do them because I enjoy stamping! And, I let him do all the addressing 'cause I can't read or write kanji!

mitzh said...

Nice post!

Just dropping by to wish you a very happy new year!

Wishing you all the best this 2007 has to offer.

Take care always...