shochuu mimai, to ask after the health of their acquaintances.
Like the New Years greeting known as nengajou, shochuu mimai are postcards, and sent primarily to friends and family members
that one doesn't get to see very often. They usually have photographs or drawings that bring summer to mind-- especially refreshing things, like flowing water, a cool drink, a fluttering wind chime, or
slice of dewy fruit.
The card posted here is one of the shochuu mimai etegami I painted this summer. This year I stuck mostly to the wind bell theme. The writing on the card is the traditional greeting, which basically means "Hoping this finds you well in the heat of summer." Shochuu mimai cards should be sent so as to reach their destinations before August 7, which, according to the traditional oriental calendar, is the first day of Autumn. Obviously, the hot days continue well beyond August 7, so if you miss your chance to send out shochuu mimai, you can send zansho mimai cards between August 8 and the end of August. The customary greeting on a zansho mimai card is "Hoping this finds you well in the lingering heat."
If you don't want to design your own seasonal greeting postcard, you can buy ready-made ones from the post office. These come with a lottery number printed on the front, so the recipient can enjoy the anticipation of winning some small gift, such as rare memorial stamps or a coveted food product from another region of the country.
I haven't forgotten my dear readers in the southern hemisphere-- I do hope this finds you well during these frigid days of winter.