HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2010!

I like the Japanese idea of sending new year postcards (nengajō) to one’s loved ones and associates, guaranteed by Japan Post to arrive on January 1. No sooner or later. It’s Japan Post’s busiest day by far. That’s efficiency.

JAPAN POST POSTBOX

If I were still in Tokyo, I’d be at the Loft looking for a cool 2010 image to send to you.

LOFT

Alas, I’m not in Japan, so here’s my electronic version of this year’s nengajō.

Searching the web, I found these “year of the tiger” images by SHINICHI INAMAKA, which I really like.

Available from Amana Images
アマナイメージズからレンタルできます。

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If you don’t know much about the tradition of sending nengajō, here’s what wikiality has to say about it:

NEW YEAR POSTCARDS

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. It is 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 by 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 nengajo. To deliver these cards on time, the post office usually hires students part-time to help deliver the letters.

– Wikipedia, “Japanese New Year

I always thought it a bit odd, though, that the Japanese started the new year with a change of Chinese astrological sign rather than waiting for the lunar new year.

YEAR OF THE TIGER FROM KŌTOKU-IN (GIANT BUDDHA )KAMAKURA

Here’s what the Wayung Times (?!) has to say about the Year of the Tiger:

The Year of the Tiger begins on February 14th 2010. Drama, intensity, change and travel will be the keywords for 2010.

Unfortunately, world conflicts and disasters tend to feature during Tiger years also, so it won’t be a dull 12 months for anyone.

The Year of the Tiger will bring far reaching changes for everyone. New inventions and incredible technological advances have a good chance of occurring.

For all of the Chinese horoscope signs, this year is one to be active – seizing opportunities and making the most of our personal and very individual talents. Everything happens quickly and dramatically in a Tiger year – blink and you could miss an important chance of a lifetime!

Who knows? Over in Tokyo right now, Meiji Shrine must be thronged with hundreds of thousands of Tokyoites wishing in the new year.

Meiji Jingu is one of my favourite spots on this beautiful planet, and not only because it’s the only large green space in Tokyo. I just like the vibe there; I always leave feeling refreshed.

HPIM6672_2

MEIJI SHRINE TOKYO

HPIM0902

Hatsumōde, hatsuhinode, the ‘firsts’ of the year

Celebrating the new year in Japan also means paying special attention to the first time something is done in the new year.

Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the new year.

Hatsumōde is the first trip to a shrine or temple. Many people visit a shrine after midnight on December 31 or sometime during the day on January 1. If the weather is good, people often dress up or wear kimono.

Other “firsts” that are marked as special events include shigoto-hajime (仕事始め, the first work of the new year), keiko-hajime (稽古始め, the first practice of the new year), hatsugama (the first tea ceremony of the new year), and the hatsu-uri (the first shopping sale of the new year).

SALE REBAJA

WISHING YOU THE HAPPIEST NEW YEAR AND DECADE EVER!

Michael

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