Monday, August 17, 2009
etegami and the heat of summer
When the rainy season ends, making way for the intense heat of mid-summer, the Japanese customarily send out a special kind of greeting card called the shochuu mimai to ask after the health of their acquaintances. Like the New Years greeting known as nengajou, it is a postcard, and is sent primarily to friends and family members that one doesn't see very often. Sometimes they are unadorned cards printed with the standard phrase, but more often they depict photographs or drawings of something representing summer-- especially something refreshing, like flowing water, a cool drink, fluttering wind chime, or slice of dewy fruit. The custom of exchanging cards like these at various set times of the year may seem burdensome to some, but I find it smooths socialization with people who have been on my mind but whom I hesitate to contact without an excuse. I've attached some samples of summer greeting cards that I've drawn and sent in the past. A wedge of watermelon. A famous-brand cantaloupe (popular summer gift). A retro pig-shaped ceramic container for coils of mosquito repellent.