When I lived in Japan, one of my favourite traditions were the nengajo (New Year’s Cards). New Year’s is a huge celebration. The day after Christmas you won’t find a thing to be found for that holiday (only a very small percentage of the country is Christian, but they have embraced the decorations and festive spirit of Christmas).
When I found out about the New Year’s cards and saw that I could easily make my own by purchasing a kit from the conbini (convenience store), it was something I had to do! I made so many cards that my stencils didn’t last. My next year in Japan I bought a rubber stamp to make my own cards again.
The New Year’s cards typically have the symbol for the upcoming Chinese zodiac on it – but they can also have photos of your children, on it as well.
You can buy the blank postcards – already complete with the correct postage on them (if mailing within Japan). This year for the first time, a special Y18 postage stamp was minted to make it easier for them to be sent worldwide.
On the cards you’ll also find lottery numbers! You don’t win cash, but other items.
On my last trip to the £ Shop I saw some blank postcards and thought the kids may have fun stamping some nengajo this year. The kids have had so much fun doing New Year’s crafts before such as a snake, and chopstick holders.
We made our own stamp by cutting a sheep-like shape from some craft foam. We used some double-sided tape to hold it to an acrylic block and our stamp was ready.
I like the idea of New Year’s cards, and I think we’ll be doing them again. It gives some grace time if you’re late sending Christmas cards, and as a postcard they’re less expensive to send through the post.
In Japan, there is a phrase you can write on the front of the postcard and the post office will hold the cards and they’ll ALL be delivered on January 1st! It’s a national holiday, but yet you’ll get a mailbox full of cards. It’s so exciting!
The children used watercolours to paint on the front of the blank postcards. Then they used the stamp with some white ink and sprinkled white embossing powder over the tops. I used a heat gun to melt the powder and give the sheep a little texture.
The children gave the sheep a little extra detail with a Sharpie marker. These postcards looked quite nice, I think, but they went a step further and put them on the front of a card blank.
They used little calendars they received in the post from a pen-pal of mine and used some crafting stickers to decorate the front of the cards. Now they made a real statement. These artwork cards are one-of-a-kind, and have made it to their recipients from England to Canada.
The children had a great time working on these cards, and they know their work will be appreciated all year long.
If you’ve missed them, the children have also made sheep phone charms and sheep handprints.
Be sure to check out all of our multicultural activities!