Friday, January 7, 2011

A New Year's Miracle!

Ok, well not really a miracle. But a little surprise today. I got a whole bunch of 年賀状(nengajou).

Nengajou are New Year's cards that are sent to friends, family, and coworkers every year. They're a lot like Christmas cards in the States, often homemade and featuring pictures of the family. Usually, though, they include an animal in keeping with those of the Chinese zodiac. This year is the year of the rabbit (卯年), so most of the cards sold in stores feature pictures or designs with rabbits.

Since my first year here, I've been writing and mailing them out. It's a big pain in the ass, so many folks have software they use to just type names and addresses and print the cards out.  Cheaters. I think in a future post I'll show you the proper way to write out a nengajou.

Anyhow, this year I only received a handful during the first couple days of the New Year. It's customary to send them out the week before, so that the post office can sort them and hold them to be delivered on New Year's if possible. Felt a little snubbed, to tell the truth. But today I got a bundle of about twice as many cards as I'd received up until now. I know many of them were just sending me cards because I send them one (also customary to send a card to anyone you've received from but neglected...oops!), but ah well.

The pile on the right is what came today. Ignore the clutter in the background!

Some people enjoy collecting the cards, as many have interesting or beautiful designs printed on them. Me, I've never been a big card guy...but I haven't thrown away any yet, and probably will bring them with me when I return to the States.

A little kanji tidbit - the kanji used for the zodiac animals are separate from those normally used for each respective animal. In this case 卯 is used for rabbit, but normally うさぎ is 兔. They're all different. Except for cow (牛). Because cows always have to be difficult.


  1. Haha! This post really made me smile. The exact same thing happened to me yesterday. I was feeling snubbed, too, having sent out so many hand-written cards and received so few. Sending New Year's cards is such a nice tradition, isn't it?

  2. Yeah, it can be nice to see all the different cards.