Eco-friendly New Year postcards go on sale in Japan

© Kyodo News

New Year's greeting postcards for 2022 have gone on sale across Japan this week, using internationally certified paper produced from forests that have not been illegally logged to show consideration for environmental protection.

Japan Post Co. initially issued some 1.83 billion postage-paid "nengajo" postcards, down 6 percent from the previous year and the lowest since records were kept from 2004, as many people now use social media for the seasonal greetings.

The downturn is also attributable to weakening demand from companies as part of efforts to cut costs following the coronavirus pandemic.

With 2022 being the Year of the Tiger under the 12-sign Chinese zodiac, Japan Post prepared special postcards with illustrations related to the animal.

The top prize of a lottery that offers "otoshidama" New Year's gifts based on the number printed on each postcard is a choice of 300,000 yen ($2,600) in cash or 310,000 yen worth of electronic money gifts.

Postal offices will start accepting the greeting cards from Dec. 15, and the company has set Dec. 25 as the recommended "deadline" for sending the cards for delivery on the New Year's Day.

"Although digital communications such as SNS have become mainstream, I hope people will convey their thoughts and feelings to each other through nengajo," Japan Post President Kazuhide Kinugawa said Monday at a ceremony in Tokyo to mark the start of the sales.

Yuka Nakamura, 49, a company employee in Tokyo who purchased some cards at a post office near JR Tokyo Station, said, "I want to send nengajo cards to my colleagues whom I haven't seen as I have been working from home a lot this year."