Wednesday, July 24, 2013

summer greeting cards

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, 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.


  1. Thank you, Debbie!! I love this post and the card!!! Oh, nearly I forgot that beautiful culture in Sydney.
    Best wishes, Sadami

  2. Shochuu mimai seem to be such treats! Thks for explaining the whole tradition.

  3. I really enjoyed this post and card and plan to send belated wishes on the hot season too. Do the Japanese have a kind of seasonal theme around some card sending? In this post, you mention the new year and the summer heat greeting. Is there a tradition around the cherry blossom season? Autumn?

    1. Carol, Any season or holiday can be both an excuse and a theme for those who paint etegami. For those who don't do etegami, sending seasonal greeting postcards is mainly for mid-summer and New Years. However, winter greetings, including the New Year greeting tradition, has a few twists, which I will explain in the next issue of the Etegami Fun Club Newsletter.

  4. what a pretty etegami and I like the idea of summer greetings cards

  5. Shochuu mimai are lovely...and to me, so fascinating..I especially love yours...the theme of the Wind Bell is so beautiful...I can almost hear their tinkly messages of love...


    ♥ Robin ♥