If you’ve ever been in Japan over the New Year’s holiday, you’re probably familiar with the Japanese custom of exchanging nengajo, or New Year’s postcards. People exchange nengajo with friends, coworkers, and others to whom they are indebted or with whom they wish to maintain a good rapport in the coming year. There is a deadline to mail nengajo, usually around December 25, so that they will be delivered to each house on New Year’s Day precisely. If you still haven’t gotten around to sending them out this year, then never fear, because this incredibly cool website lets you design your own nengajo!

So, everyone: have you finished writing your nengajo yet? To all of you who answer, “No, I haven’t!”, then you’d better get moving, because soon it’s going to be too late. But if you’re stuck and can’t decide what kind of postcard to send, you may be in luck. On a website called “Let’s Draw! Japan” (sponsored by Japan Post), you can actually design your own original postcards – and it’s really fun!. There are several ways to show your creativity, such as by decorating blank outlines of Japanese prefectures, or by using a drawing brush tool with your mouse, the brushstrokes coming out looking like stylish calligraphy.

Japanese users have already submitted thousands of their own original illustrations to the website. Some of them are so good that they make you stare at the screen in awe. Websites are buzzing with compliments for the really impressive ones. If most of us attempted to draw like that, we wouldn’t be finished until after the new year has come and gone…

Here are some user-submitted examples under the “decorate a prefecture” category of two of my favorite Japanese prefectures:

▼One artist’s rendition of Yamagata Prefecture’s famous cherries, Hanagasa festival, etc., made using pre-made stamps


▼Beautiful Tanabata decorations in Miyagi Precture, using the drawing brush tool


One of the RocketNews24 Japanese staff members decided to test the website out himself. He first decorated an outline of Tokyo, and then tried his hand at using the drawing brush tool.

▼ A selection of the pre-made stamps for Tokyo


▼”My completed artwork entitled Tokyo Desert. I tried to depict Tokyo realistically.”


▼”Next, let’s try making New Year’s cards with the drawing brush tool!”


▼”There are 12 colors and three brush thicknesses to choose from. Not bad!”


▼”All right! I’m going to draw a cute horse! 2014 is the year of the horse, after all. After only a few minutes, I could draw a pretty decent horse (for an elementary school student…). Check out my cool drawing!”


▼You can even download my design as a PNG image file or share it on Facebook or Twitter to impress people!


Among some of the most popular submissions are depictions of famous characters, including Gundams and wide-eyed Kirbys. There is even an amazing replication of Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream. Some people are so good at using the drawing brush tool that it’s scary…

Here are examples of some awesome submissions. These artists are superhuman!

The Scream– New Year’s postcard, or the original??


▼A “magical girl version” of Mie Prefecture


▼Wow!! Incredible talent.


Finally, there are lots of other useful tools for creating your cards. For those people who absolutely can’t draw, you can also quickly design cards using the “postcard design kit 2014” tool. It’s also possible to find an existing template that you like by using the “postcard quick search” tool. If any of your friends are having trouble making their own cards, why don’t you try making something for them on this site? They’ll definitely appreciate it. Happy drawing!

Sources/Images: JP Post, RocketNews24
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