Nengajo, or New Year’s greeting cards, are a ubiquitous part of the end-of-year season in Japan. Much like Christmas cards in the west, nengajo are sent to family and friends to update them on what you’ve been up to that year. In fact, there are so many nengajo sent at the end of the year that post offices in Japan have to employ students as temporary staff to make sure they meet the delivery deadline of January 1. While there are plenty of preprinted cards available from stationery shops, many people opt to make their own, personalised cards. A nice touch, but results may vary depending on the artistic skills (and sense of humour) of the postcard sender! To show you what we mean, we’ve put together a little list of the best of this year’s nengajo. Some of them are genuinely impressive, while others would make us cringe if the neighbours saw ’em!

First up is a promotional nengajo from special effects company Tsuburaya Productions, known in Japan for providing special effects for classic shows such as Ultraman. Nengajo usually feature the classic New Year’s greeting Akemashite omedetou, but this one’s a play on words – instead of “a new dawn” the card reads Aketekure, “open me up, please!”

What’s inside? A flyer for a promotional event. Okay, so not that interesting. Let’s move on!

This nengajo might not look like much, but it’s actually kind of cool (honest!) As you can see, it’s made to look like a train ticket listing the origin (New Year’s Day) and destination (New Year’s Eve). Which basically means you’ve got a year long ticket to ride! Check out the little sheep picture (2015 being the year of the sheep, after all) and the small print on the ticket, which says “best wishes again this year!” Just don’t stick this in your pocket by mistake then try to get on the train with it – the station workers might not find it so charming now that the holiday period is over and everyone’s back at work like bears with sore heads!

You know that feeling when you make a joke and nobody laughs? Multiply that by around 7,000 retweets and you’ll probably get a good idea of how this nengajo-jokester felt when his postcard was mocked on twitter. The postcard features a snap of the sender, along with text that reads; “Are you by any chance a postal delivery worker? I seem to have gotten trapped in a nengajo! Could you kindly post me to (name and address of recipient) so they can let me out?” The creator of the postcard uploaded it with a gloomy comment which reads “I spent two hours of my life making this piece of crap nengajo and when I think of going to actually post it I feel so depressed…” Hey, nengajo are about spreading joy to loved ones! Cheer up! On the other hand, his nengajo is bad and maybe he should feel bad…

When sending out funny postcards en masse, it’s better to hedge your bets by going with something that’s genuinely popular across the board, like Naruto. The text on this card reads “Hey you! It’s a whole new year now!” The pleased recipient commented, “Of all the nengajo I received this year, this one’s the best.” Nice and simple!

This rather horrifying creation sprung from the mind of a beauty salon frequented by this customer, who uploaded the card for the amusement of their followers. It’s clearly a send-off of the monstrously popular Disney film Frozen, known in Japan as Anna and the Snow Queen. While the postcard is pretty funny, there’s no way we would ever consider getting our hair cut by the terrifying man in the picture. In fact, it’s really hard to tell what they’re trying to convey with this. “Stop by our salon and a chihuaha wearing a crown will molest you while we cut off your ponytail with garden shears?” Erm, pass!

Okay, so we’ll admit it – most of these nengajo aren’t all that awesome. But we’ve saved the best for last! One twitter user shared a snap of a nengajo sent to them by their dear old dad. This apparently hand-made card is set out like a complicated word puzzle, and actually spells out multiple messages of New Year’s good cheer, some of which lead to dead ends, and only one of which can be followed all the way around to meet the sheep in the middle. It’s actually quite a challenge, and pretty frustrating at times, especially when you reach a dead end and papa gently rebukes you for being a careless nincompoop. We love the idea of a crossword-loving papa spending hours hunched over a desk working on this little creation (possibly while smoking a pipe and wearing a comfy pair of slippers, and chuckling heartily at his own craftiness).  Hopefully the recipient will treasure this nengajo for years to come! Incidentally, who here managed to reach the sheep on their first try?

If sending Christmas cards isn’t your thing, why not adopt the Japanese custom of sending New Year’s cards next year, instead? Hopefully this year’s efforts have inspired you!

Source: Buzzmag
Image: Twitter @soraameca