When was the last time you sent someone a card or a letter? Christmas, perhaps? Or someone’s birthday, passing exams or just a random ‘Thank you’?
Shochu-mimai, Summer Greetings
We have a summer tradition in Japan called ‘Shochu-mimai'. It means ‘Summer Greetings’ and people usually send a post card to each other during summer (July and August). The Japanese summer is extremely hot and humid, and the reason why people send a card is to wish the receiver good health for them and their family as well as letting them know how they have been during the hottest time of the year. These cards normally have refreshing and cool images such as goldfish, morning glory, wind chimes, water etc.
How and when did this tradition start?
It is said that this tradition started goes back to Edo period (1603-1868). During Obon (normally middle of August), which is an annual Buddist event for commemorating one’s ancestors, people return to ancestral family places and visit ancestors’ graves. When visiting the grave, they clean the grave and make food offerings. This later become a custom to offer gifts to those who you would like to show appreciation in Edo period. People sent gifts and letters to those who live far. In 1870’s, with the improvement of the Japan Post system, this custom of sending gifts and letters simplified to just send cards instead and in early 1900 this current custom of sending Shochu-mimai was established.
Summer Greeting in Japanese
How to write Shochu-mimai?
1. Start with greetings.
“Summer greeting to you!”
2. Ask the receiver how they and their family have been doing in the hot weather.
“How are you and your family getting along in this hot weather?”
3. Tell them how you have been doing.
“We’re all fine here”
4. Wish them well.
“Please take care of yourself”
“Reiwa 4, Summer”
So, we send cards to each other during the hottest season of the year in Japan. You wonder ‘What about the coldest season…?’ Yes, we send cards to each other during the coldest season of the year too (January and February), however it is less popular thing to do as we would normally have already sent cards to wish a Happy New Year which is 1st of January. We now live in the world where technologies are widely available, and we often opt for an easy and quick access. Still, I love receiving cards and letters as they have personal touch and I try write them whenever I have an opportunity. Sending summer greetings could be a new and unique excuse for you to write to someone you care for. We have a range of lovely cards and letter sets available for you! You can make it look more authentic by writing with Japanese calligraphy pens. Check out vlog about calligraphy for Japanese calligraphy inspiration. Hope you have enjoyed this post. Follow The Japanese Shop on Facebook or Instagram for regular updates and to learn more Japanese facts. Alternatively, you can browse our extensive range of authentic Japanese Greeting Cards and Letter Set on our Website, along with lots of stationeries.