Japanese Corner: Writing Japanese New Year’s Cards
Similar to greeting cards sent out during the Holiday season in the West, New Year’s Cards, known as nengajyou in Japanese are sent out every year to family, friends, and acquaintances all over the world. There are a plethora of ways to say Happy New Year in Japanese, and to help sort through some of the s, here are a few below:
Happy New Year
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu.(明けましておめでとうございます。)
Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu.(新年おめでとうございます。)
Tsutsushinde shinnen no oyorokobi o moushiagemasu.(謹んで新年のお喜びを申し上げます。)
All s basically mean, ”Happy New Year”. You can choose any of them to begin your card. ”Kinga Shinnen (謹賀新年）,” ”Kyouga Shinnen (恭賀新年）,” ”Gashou (賀正）,” and ”Geishun (迎春）” are seasonal words not used in regular conversation. The rest of the three s can be used as a greeting. After the greeting, add words of thanks, requests for continued favor or wishes for health. Here are some common s, though you can add your own words as well.
Sakunen wa taihen osewa ni nari arigatou gozaimashita.
昨年は大変お世話になりありがとうございました。 Thank you for all your kind help during the past year.
Honnen mo douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
本年もどうぞよろしくお願いします。 I hope for your continued favor
Minasama no gokenkou o oinori moushiagemasu.
皆様のご健康をお祈り申し上げます。 Wishing everyone good health.
When dating the card, the word ”gantan （元旦）” is used instead of the date that card was written. ”Gantan” means the morning of January 1st, therefore it is not necessary to write ”ichi-gatsu gantan”. As for the year, the Japanese era name is often used. The year 2008 will be ”Heisei nijyu-nen （平成20年）, the 20th year of the era Heisei. Although nengajo are often written vertically, it is acceptable to write them horizontally.
When sending New Year’s cards from overseas, the word ”nenga （年賀）” should be written in red at the front (side with stamp and address). This way post office holds it and delivers it on January 1st. Unlike Christmas cards, nengajo shouldn’t arrive before New Year’s Day.
Write your name (and address) at the left side of the card. You can add your own message or draw the picture of the present year’s zodiacal animal (eto).