How many nengajo did you get?

So I spent New Years at Yoshi`s mum`s house and was witness to this huuuuuge stack of nengajo being delivered.

** for those who are reading this blog outside of Japan --> a nengajo (年賀状 ) is a Japanese New Year card which is similar to a western Christmas card (although is a simple postcard style). People can buy preprinted cards, or make/design their own (using stamps, photos, stickers, even specially designed computer software programmes). In Japan, starting from mid-December, everybody starts sending
nengajo to friends, relatives and colleagues. According to tradition, nengajo should be delivered on January 1st, and if the postcards are marked with the word nengajo and if they are posted on time (usually before December 25th), Japan Post guarantees the delivery on time. Since almost every Japanese sends tens of these nengajo, the Post hires part-time workers to deliver all of them on the 1st day of the New Year.

We counted them of course, and on January 1st, she received over 200 cards!
She kind of skimmed over most of them, I guess that it becomes pretty routine after sending and receiving them for decades, but after asking her permission, I pored over them for almost an hour!

The designs of the cards were almost all completely different. It was kind of obvious who had just copied and pasted something really simple from the internet or some nengajo software programme (yeah, Japan really does have a product for everything), but others were amazing.
I wish I had taken some photos of them, because they were so cool.

I personally received 7 cards - which I suppose is pretty cool. Most young single people tend to just send text messages or emails to each other to ring in the new year, but I have some friends who got married / had babies and designed cards with some of their wedding pictures / baby snaps.

An added bonus is that each card is printed with a code, and come the end of January, there is a huge nengajo lottery (run by Japan post) and there are heaps of prizes to be won (big tvs, holidays, appliances and electronics, even rice and stamps). Even if you only received one card, you could still win something really nice. So don`t even think of throwing them away!!!!

Most of the nengajo from this year (that don`t feature wedding or baby pictures) have a picture of a tiger on them (real-looking or cartoon) because this year is the year of the tiger. I saw some really cool interpretations of tigers this year; I guess it is an easier animal to decorate with (than say, a wild boar or an ox!!).

Check out some of the cool designs I found online...

- photo credit rekishinotabi (flickr)

- photo credit kashimoto178 (flickr)

- photo credit crazyaboutit (flickr)

- photo credit hyperspace328 (flickr)


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