Sending New Year’s Post Cards (Nengajo) in Japan

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In Japan it is custom to send New Year’s postcards (年賀状 nengajo) to friends and relatives, similar to the Western custom of sending Christmas cards. Nengajo are sold at post offices and convenience stores until the 2nd week of January, both blank cards for self-decoration and pre-designed cards – traditionally decorated to show the new zodiac sign are available. Nengajo mailed before December 25 to addresses in Japan are delivered by the post office on January 1st. Blanks card cost 50 Yen each.

If you are not familiar with the tradition of sending cards, it is considered polite to send a card in return if you receive one from a colleague or family member.

How to write a regular (domestic) New Year Card to someone in Japan

  1. The card should be vertical with the destination address at the top right hand side in large script. The sender’s address should be at the bottom or left hand side in smaller script.
  2. Addresses can be written in English letters horizontally or in Japanese – vertical text is traditional, but horizontal text is also acceptable.
  3. Post by December 25 to for it to arrive on January 1.


What to write on the FRONT

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)
  • Mata issho ni asobo ne. また一緒に遊ぼうね。(Let’s get together again)

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