Keeping with Japan's little-known reputation for the analogue (hello, fax machines), sending New Year's cards (known as nengajo) is still a thing here – a three billion cards a year kind of thing. Like Christmas or holiday cards in many Western countries, nengajo are postcards sent to friends, family and even businesses to welcome in the new year and ask for everyone’s continued support for the next 365 days. Cards go on sale in mid-October and are available until the first week or so of January, which gives people plenty of time to compile a list of everyone they will – or won't – be sending a card to that year.
Although the popularity of digital nengajo has risen among the younger generations, families still look forward to the morning of January 1 when that year’s nengajo arrive, neatly bundled, in the mailbox. Whether you just happen to be passing through Japan or are a long-time resident, sending a nengajo or two is an easy and fun way to participate in a piece of Japanese New Year’s culture and express your gratitude to the important people in your life.