I was asked to paint a series of etegami to add some pizazz to a website that a friend had set up to be a communication crossroads for those of us who attended the American School in Japan (Tokyo) during the 1970s. The connecting theme was to be along the lines of "nostalgia" and "reunion." The first etegami I posted was excessively metaphorical, and resulted in being misinterpreted by all who saw it-- which was kind of embarrassing. The one posted here is more straightforward, representing one of those old-style Japanese mail boxes, which had so much more character than the modern ones you see in Japan today. My www of choice is still the postal service, and one of the most important reasons I do etegami at all.
Etegami (e= "picture"; tegami= "letter/message") are simple drawings accompanied by a few apt words. They are usually done on postcards so that they can be easily mailed off to one's friends. Though etegami has few hard-and-fast rules, traditional tools and materials include writing brushes, sumi ink, blocks of water-soluble, mineral-based pigments called gansai, and washi postcards that have varying degrees of "bleed." They often depict some ordinary item from everyday life, especially items that bring a particular season to mind.