Traditionally in Japan, once mid-summer came around, everyone would receive tons of summer greeting cards from their friends. How come? Friends are not to be forgotten in the long heat of the summer, therefore Japanese have had a tradition of sending special summer greeting cards to keep in touch. Sadly though, traditions can be forgotten and the act of sending cards is not as practiced as it use to be. PingMag would like to change that and put some new life into this old custom as we show you some quite cool examples for inspiration. From 3D pop-ups, tiny nobori banner cards to sweet tenugui handkerchief, there is something out there for almost any friend!
Written by Ryoko
With kind cooperation of Loft
Translated by Kevin Mcgue
First, we found some useful information on the site of the Japan Post Office for you folks who are more used to writing e-mail nowadays: For example, we learned that traditionally, summer greeting cards were sent in the hottest period of mid-summer — between July 20th and August 8th. If you send a card after this period, it becomes an end-of-summer card. So be careful!
Visiting stationery shops, we had a look at some summer picture post cards. Remember, last summer we told you about delicate glass wind bells from Japan. So? Indeed, we found some cards with wind bell designs that seemed quite simple at first glance. However, the wind bell is actually transparent, and beneath that is thin pink paper with faint illustrations of paper fans and watermelons — symbols of Japanese summertime. Moreover, these lovely designs form a collage with the motifs on the transparent layer. Such a handmade feel makes it a very thoughtful card.
Keeping cool is not easy in Japan’s hot summer. A filigree paper fan and watermelon motifs can help.
Note that the paper fans illustration is on a transparent layer.
A paper fan and watermelon postcard decorated in soft and subtle colour scheme.
We especially like these paper fan collages!
Japanese Paper Cards
Next, a special card made from Japanese paper and printed with a morning glory flower design caught our eye. There is a little string attached, and once it is untied, you can open the card and write your message inside. Maybe it is due to the printed Japanese paper, but its colours are surprisingly brilliant.
Apart from Japanese paper, there always lots of beautiful cards printed by silkscreen. The colours are very strong, effectively depicting the motifs of fireworks or sunflowers. See for yourself:
Colourful fireworks are a big part of summer in Japan. This one from Kyukyodo is printed by silkscreen.
Sunflowers! The bright yellow colour and the harvest remind us of summer.
Next, we found a clever summer greeting card that included a real tenugui cloth. The handkerchief is inside a plastic bag which becomes an envelope when a stamp is affixed to it and the address label is filled in. In addition, expressing a nice sentiment with the message card, the handkerchief becomes a nice little gift, so this one is good for someone whom you feel especially indebted to…
With a place for a stamp and an address label.
This handkerchief has a cut green bean design. Lovely!
3D Panorama Cards
Now, if you’re still looking for something a little bit different, we found this 3D card! When you push the button, it suddenly opens and transforms into a fantastic summer sky full of fireflies and crickets. See it happen in the the video below:
In the hot Japanese summer, many people naturally want to enjoy a beer right after work. May we suggest you this next card? When you open it, you hear the sound of beer pouring! And there is no way you can open this without thirsting for a beer afterwards!
We found another interesting card that makes noises: It features a firework design, and when you open the card, you can hear fireworks taking off and exploding. Something kids are sure to love!
You can’t have summer without beer! See the video here.
Want to and hear the fireworks?
Pop-up Festival Cards
We know that there are lots of pop-up cards for Christmas. Surprisingly, we discovered some for summer as well. In addition, we found a pop-up card that shows a scenic Japanese summer festival in great detail, including portable festival shrines and street vendors.
But there is also a 3D card that recreates the scene of a traditional summer fireworks display, for sure. This one is made from very detailed cut paper, and expresses the atmosphere of a very nostalgic scene through a simple piece of paper. A wonderful card as a great choice to send to a very special person! Isn’t it wonderful:
This is a miniature version of banners you can see outside of Japanese Izakaya. The flag reads “cold draft beer,” another thing you can’t go without in summer!
A tiny banner version advertising “kaki-gori”, shaved ice covered with sweet, fruity syrup. Yummy! Something every kid in Japan tries in summer.
Yes, we showed you some nobori before, the vertical banners placed outside of shops to advertise all sorts of things. And yay, we found nice summer greeting cards that expand into miniature nobori for draft beer and flavoured ice! Tip: Since these cards really give a feeling of Japanese culture, they would be perfect to send to someone outside of Japan!
This tiny goldfish wind streamer is meant to be hung up as a decoration when received. Cute!
This clever card recreates a game popular at summer festivals in Japan in which children try to catch goldfish.
The 3D card imitates the movements of swimming goldfish.
This one expands into a fishbowl!
Shiny Plastic Cards
We also found some interesting looking cards that are round and made out of clear plastic. On the surface is what looks like little drops of water, making the pictures of watermelon and sunflowers behind look very fresh! There are also postcards shaped like T-shirts, which might remind a person of his leisure time, cooling off in summer. There is also a miniature paper fan that can be sent as a postcard, and your friend can use it right away.
Postcards shaped like T-shirts.
Tiny paper fans sent with your card.
And finally we leave you with this example full of summer vegetables raised by the summer sun!
Thanks to everyone at Shibuya Loft for their help. We’re sure that by now you must have found the perfect summer greeting card to send to someone special!