Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Mom sent me a small package of chocolates wrapped in furoshiki for Valentines. The packaging was made to look like a traditional train station bento box. I confess I was more excited about the stamps on the package. I tried to look up the name of the calligrapher behind each stamp, but the internet is deficient. Each stamp spells out "tatsu," which means dragon. Some are closer to pictographs than calligraphy. One of the joys of visiting Japan in late November is that New Year stamps come out that month. Also in abundance: rubber stamps associated with the upcoming zodiac year, DIY card-making supplies, and a gadzillion varieties of New Year postcards. I am surprised that such postcards are completely missing from Japanese stores in the US, since the weeks leading up to New Year is the biggest mail event in Japan. Surely there are Japanese expats who yearn to send off cards to relatives at home? In Japan, post offices set up desks on the street to sell lottery-style postcards and special stamps starting in late November. There is a rush to deliver mail so that people get their New Year greetings exactly on Jan. 1.