Wish Your Friends Akemashite Omedetou!

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DISCOVER: Wish Your Friends Akemashite Omedetou!

Everywhere you turn in Japan humble acts are steeped in tradition. Take for example nengajō (年賀状) – cards sent in their millions every December to wish friends, family, colleagues and classmates ‘Akemashite omedetou!’, or ‘Happy New Year!’.

Stemming from the tradition of ‘nenshi-mawari’ – personal visits to thank friends and family for their support over the previous year and continued support during the year to come – nengajō are sent much in the way Christmas cards are sent in the west.

However unlike Christmas cards, in Japan the whole postal system changes to accommodate the nengajō tradition. Sold with special stamps already attached, throughout December Japanese post offices pull out all the stops to make sure each household receives all of it’s nengajō neatly bound together, on and not before January 1st. Special nengajō openings are added to letter boxes to ensure all new year’s greetings arrive on new year’s day, and the post office even runs a new year’s prize draw using ‘otoshidama’ lottery numbers printed on the cards.

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