Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Years Day Card  - 年賀状 (Nenga‐jo)

New Year is the most important holiday in Japan with its own unique customs.
One of the things we do to prepare for the New Year holiday period is to send out New Year postcards to friends, family, and relatives before the New Year's Day arrives.

2012: 年賀状
After coming to the U.S., I have neither sent out nor received these special New Year postcards for many years. But, every year during the past several years I have been receiving one New Year postcard from special friends in Japan. The friends (husband and wife) who were here for almost a year 8 or 9 years ago. The husband was working for an international high-tech company in this city. He was sent here by his company in Japan on a special assignment for a year when I met them. We have gotten to know each other well and have become good friends. I look forward to seeing them each time I travel back to Tokyo.

In the card they send to me I can visualize the part of their family activities of the year. The New Year greetings and personal notes are absolutely wonderful to read. I see joy and happiness on their faces in the photos that are posted on the card. I feel that New Year has arrived when I receive the New Year postcard from them.

One of my students did a presentation paper on "New Year in Japan". In the paper was the following paragraph about New Year postcard.

Nengajou 年賀状
The end of December and the beginning of January are the busiest times for the Japanese post offices. The Japanese have a custom of sending New Year's Day postcards (年賀状, nengajō?) to their friends and relatives, similar to the Western custom of sending Christmas cards. Their original purpose was to give your faraway friends and relatives tidings of yourself and your immediate family. In other words, this custom existed for people to tell others whom they did not often meet that they were alive and well.
Japanese people send these postcards so that they arrive on the 1st of January. The post office guarantees to deliver the greeting postcards on the first of January if they are posted within a time limit, from mid-December to near the end of the month and are marked with the word nengajō.
Conventional nengajō greetings include:

* kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu (今年もよろしくお 願いします?) (I hope for your favour again in the coming year)
* (shinnen) akemashite o-medetō-gozaimasu ((新年)あけまし ておめでとうございます?) (Happiness to you on the dawn [of a New Year])
* kinga shinnen (謹賀新年?) (Happy New Year)

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012, the Year of the Dragon - Happy New Year !

As I do every year, I challenged to make an origami dragon for the year 2012.

Sumo Dragon

Several years ago, my niece in Japan sent me a small paper craft of Sumo arena and a couple of sumo wrestlers. I used that sumo arena as a prop to display the new origami dragons as fighting dragons.