執筆 上野陽子
2014/11 Up

第78回 年賀状を書く季節到来!
Vol. 78 It's time to write nengajo!

What's next year's Chinese zodiac sign?


* 赤い色の語句の上にマウスカーソルを移動させる(スマホの場合はタップする)と語注が表示されます

What is nengajo?

Japanese have a custom of sending New Year's Day postcards, nengajo, to greet their friends and relatives. It's similar to the Western custom of sending Christmas cards. Starting with a set greeting, you express your thanks for the relationship of the previous year and communicate your recent news. Usually, people use post office nengajo, which come with special lottery numbers, but you can also use just an ordinary postcard. It's better to post nengajo by December 25 so that they can be delivered on January 1. The period from late December to early January is the busiest time for Japanese post offices.


The circumstances surrounding nengajo these days

We used to handwrite nengajo, but nowadays many people make their own with the help of software programs and high-spec printers. It's also popular to order ready-made nengajo at convenience stores and supermarkets. Along with the increasing number of people using cellphones and social networking services, many nengajo are now being sent by email and other applications. This year, the post office is offering a new service for sending nengajo to people with unknown addresses. The post office will use e-mail addresses or social networking services to ask those people if they are willing to receive nengajo before going ahead and delivering them.


How to write nengajo

A nengajo's main items are a picture and a Chinese characters. At first, draw a picture or write the character (or use printed nengajo) of the coming year's Chinese zodiac sign. *Then add some greetings and the following in your own words.

  1. New Year's greeting,
    e.g., "A Happy New Year." / "Best Wishes for a Happy New Year."
  2. Words of appreciation,
    e.g., "Thank you for (all) your support last year."
  3. A wish for prosperity and health,
    e.g., "Wishing you and your family health and happiness."
  4. A wish for a continuing relationship,
    e.g., "I hope I can count on your continued support in this year."


  1. 賀詞(新年を祝う言葉)
  2. あいさつやお礼
  3. 相手の繁栄や健康を願う
  4. これからのお付き合いのお願いなど


Next year's sign is the sheep. We'll see a lot of New Year's Day postcards with drawings of sheep and the Chinese character for sheep on them.


*The Chinese zodiac is based on 12-year cycle, with each year related to an animal sign. The coming year's animal is one of the main features of the nengajo.

日本のキホン トップへ