It’s that time of year again. It’s time for Nengajo, New Year’s hagaki greeting cards in Japan. Since it can be impractical to actually call everyone you know on New Years Day, post cards have become a popular way to keep in touch during the holidays. As you might imagine there are a lot of ways to go about preparing your New Year’s Cards.
The easiest way to do Nengajo is to simply go to your local post office and buy pre-designed cards. You can then either write your name and address or print them out. Many people also write personal messages.
The selection at the post office will be limited, however, you have the option of ordering from a variety of designs and styles from their catalog. You can then include your address, etc. in the design. The sooner you order the cheaper they are. Usually orders begin in October. You’ll need to order soon if you want to take this option.
The most original format is to go and pick up a selection of blank nengajo at the post office. They run about 500yen for a pack of 10. This year there were four different types with the differences being in the style of the stamps on the address side of the card and a slight difference to the color of the paper. If you go this route you’ll need to design your own card. The easiest way is to use Powerpoint with a 4 inch by 6 inch page. Check out my 2013 design or the photo below for ideas for your New Years cards.
As you might notice, 2014 is the year of the horse. It’s customary to include some reference to the zodiac character as well as the date and some kind of New Year’s message.
You can use this ppt template to print the addresses once you have your card designs printed. This should work with any hagaki, though make sure you check your print settings and put the cards in the feeder correctly.
One word of caution. Generally if a family has had someone pass away in the previous year, they do not send out New Years cards. It’s a good idea to not send one to them as it might remind them of their loss, especially since the most common saying on the cards is along the lines of “congratulations for making it through another year.”