Posts Tagged ‘nengajo’

New era for New Year’s cards

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Forgotten the address? Postman gets it for you via Facebook

As holiday season approaches, people are beginning to start thinking about sending out New Year’s greeting postcards to relatives and friends. JP Post guarantees that all cards marked as nengajo will be delivered on New Year’s day and hires temporary staff to help them achieve this goal. However, in recent years, the burden of delivering nengajo has shifted from the post office to the internet and cell-phone networks, as increasing numbers of people opt to send electronic New Year’s greetings.

Though the web can cope with this increased traffic, cell-phone networks can’t, and every year the major networks issue warnings to customers that after midnight on New Year’s Eve, they can expect delivery delays of up to two hours for mail service as well as difficulty in making calls due to high traffic.

Even if you do get through, sending your nengajo via email may create the impression that you’re not that bothered about the person receiving the message — either that or they’ll think you’re a bit of a tight wad. This year, however, the traditional nengajo has been given a digital facelift and several innovative new services are available to help you get your New Year’s greetings done properly.

  • Postman: Mislaid addresses? No worries. Similar to Giftee, which works utilizing Twitter, this service finds addresses for you via Facebook. Ad agency Dentsu has teamed up with Japan’s Post Office to create Postman and in the future the service will be extended to allow people to send other kinds of greetings cards and even gifts. Using the templates available, you are able to customize your own cards. Available only in Japan, cards cost upward of ¥97.
  • Nenga-Cinema: These nengajo double as gifts. A code printed on the postcard can be input into the nenga-cinema website allowing the receiver to view one of 30 movies available online for free. The service is offered by Ripplex and Sony, and titles available are “Spiderman,” “Men in Black” and “Taxi Driver.” These cards cost a reasonable ¥365.
  • Budemame Nenga 2012: Want a personalized card, but too busy to sit at your desk and create one? Try this Android app, which allows you to create your own card on your smartphone. Combine photos taken on your phone with customizable templates to create a personalized nengajo. To print, send the info to a PC or use a smartphone compatible printer.

Real New Year’s greetings to virtual addresses

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Last year, people in Japan exchanged some 2 billion New Year’s greeting cards called nengajo (年賀状). As long as they’re marked appropriately and posted in the specially marked mail slots between Dec. 15 and 25, they’ll be delivered to friends, family and business associates nation-wide (by an army of holiday part-timers) on Jan. 1.


A middle man between you and your online friends

Technology has taken some of the work out of addressing, writing, stamping and mailing them in the last few years.  Any number of Internet and keitai sites allow exchange of e-greetings by Web mail or mobile phone. Apparently, though, nothing beats flipping through that nice fresh stack of real cards, signed, sealed and delivered on the first day of the year. Now several services are preserving the personal paper touch while taking the work out of addressing them by sending real nengajo via virtual addresses.  Even if you don’t know your online friends’ e-mail addresses — or even their real names — you can send them the cards.

The two main services offering this feature are Japan Post’s WebPO and Net-nengajo. For either one, you select the cards and choose your message online, addressing the card to an e-mail address, social network profile name or Twitter handle.  The service then tells the recipient a card is waiting and asks for a real-world name and address. This goes directly onto the card without ever being revealed to the original sender. Mixi has a similar nengajo system in place for exchanges among its own members.

Continue reading about next-generation nengajou →

Best of luck in the year of the tiger

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Happy Tiger Year (collage courtesy by Yuri Suzuki)

Happy Tiger Year (collage courtesy by Yuri Suzuki)

With JAL on the rocks and Wendy’s closed for good, it might seem that 2010 has not had an auspicious start. But instead of kicking themselves, some Japanese businesses have decided to kick-start the new year of commerce with a slew of inventive giveaways and competitions.

Sapporo’s nationwide janken (rock, scissors, paper) competition, for example, had a first prize of ¥10 million (roughly $100,000), with 100,000 cases of Sapporo beer available for runners-up. Janken is not only popular with children in Japan, it’s also a popular game with adults and in fact started out as a drinking game. If you’d like to try your hand at an adult janken competition, Taiko Chaya, an izakaya in Tokyo has nightly janken tournaments open to all customers.

Sapporo’s competition closed Jan. 3, but there are other enticing offers still available. Toho Cinemas have dreamed up a great way to make the best use of your nengajo (New Year’s postcards). Most nengajo come printed with numbers that qualify recipients for a  national lottery. The winning numbers are announced on Jan. 24.  If you happen to have nengajo with the last digits of either 1 or 4,  you can watch any movie at Toho Cinemas between Jan. 9 and Feb. 28 for the bargain price of ¥1,000 (but viewing 3-D movies will cost you an extra ¥300).

If you’re in a mood for a burger after your discount movie, then head to Lotteria. Selected set meals come with the opportunity to enter their New Year’s competition. Lucky winners will get the price of their entire meal refunded; those not so lucky get a deduction of ¥100 or ¥50. There’s also a great booby prize of a kimchee shake for those who draw the short straw. Kimchee is spicy Korean dish that is popular in Japan but it’s hard to imagine anyone actually enjoying it in a creamy liquid form. Or perhaps you would, if you’re the masochistic type.


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