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.


  1. Some years ago I've discovered a Portuguese writer called Wenceslau de Moraes. He fall in love with Japan and he leaved there until the end of his days. His writing is warm and some times passionate. He describes vividly all aspects of Japanese culture, traditions, ways of being and understanding life and nature. In Portuguese language we still have words that we learn with Japanese language like catana, chá …
    Your blog is bringing back to me that spirit of fascination that Japanese culture has. I appreciate that very much and I feel grateful to you. Obrigado.

  2. Luis, thank you for your comment. I would love to read what Wenceslau de Moraes wrote about Japan. I'll have to see if his book has been translated into English or Japanese.