Written by Kumiko Toya
Family gatherings and celebrations with friends are delightful traditions during the holiday season. However, the 2020 holiday season will be clearly unlike any other in modern history.
What is Etegami?
Etegami is poetry in the form of art. It is a colorful folk art consisting of simple hand-painted drawing and a few thoughtful words, typically drawn on postcards to be shared by mail. The name comes from the Japanese word for "picture letter."
“There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed our lives,” Sachiko Hanashiro says. “But the pandemic has also shown us how centrally important creativity is for our lives and identities.”
She finds joy of creativity even in small daily routines. To take safety precautions, she reduced the number of shopping trips. Shortly, she found a new joy on how creatively she can cook for her family with what is in the pantry.
See more Sachiko Hanashiro's Etegami collections:
The first collection: How The 300 Etegami Postcards Unplugged and Connected People in The Time of Quarantine
The second collection: Etegami in Praise of Fall by Sachiko Hanashiro
The forth collection: Embracing Social Distancing with Etegami: Sachiko Hanashiro’s Etegami Gallery Part IV
What's for dinner? Simmered daikon radish.
Found a nice thick daikon radish sold for only 138 yen ($1.30). Because of the warmer weather lately, vegetables are growing so fast, producing a bumper crop this season. But this chilly evening, I am craving for simmered daikon that's hot off the stove.
When will the first wintry wind blow in?
The maple tree in my garden is 150 years old. The leaves on top of the tree are starting to fall. On the foot of the tree, there is a wild chrysanthemum bush that grows naturally. Their flowers are in full bloom right now. I had an Etegami class today where I teach beginners how to draw. Students who drew their first Etegami were very happy exclaiming “Pretty!” and “I did it!”
To be face-to-face with life and savor it.
I purchased a fish from a fishmonger in Himi, a fishing port in Toyama. “Kito-kito” is their local idiom meaning “very fresh”. Kito-kito make artists excited. Butterfish is popular in the style of dried fish, but when fresh, it has a face like this.
Chasing the color one more day.
The first frost of the season. My husband and I worked hard in the garden from early morning. Garden work is tough but it will be rewarded with a lot of blooming flowers in the spring. The leaves of the ivy entwining the fence were beautiful as if reluctant to say a farewell to the autumn.
Snowed at the end of autumn. Fluffy, clumpy, chilly. Stocks are surprised, too. November twenty-fourth.
A strong cold front came from the north, bringing the first snow to Tokyo! The late autumn scenery is gone completely. I am wondering what this winter is going to be like.
Grew taller and taller. Peeked at last.
It’s painfully cold today! The real winter has finally come to Japan. I found an early narcissus blooming among the sago palm bush. Looking for the sun, the narcissus grew taller and taller to almost 80 cm (2.6 feet) until it finally reached the sunshine. The “New Year Flower” bloomed much earlier this season.
Blooming amid the cold weather
My husband pruned my rose bush in a bold manner. “It stimulates more new growth and flowering in the spring.” he explains. I picked up some of the pruned stems with buds and placed them in a vase. Now they are blooming!
Gorgeous rowan berries. Birds have their eyes on them.
Three gardeners came to work in my garden today. My rowan tree which is heavy with berries is now covered with tree netting because I want to keep them for the New Year’s decoration. After that, eat as much as you want, birds! Sorry for the wait!
Blooming day by day. Beautiful.
At the prime location by the window in the living room, my cyclamen pots are lined side by side basking in the sun. They are the indispensable decorations to brighten up my home in the winter months. Nowadays we have many new varieties of cyclamen, petal shapes look like birds about to fly, flowers more refined and elegant, and others. I enjoy drawing them!
Snowing. Inhaling the fragrance. Bearing the cold.
Japanese allspice blooms in December until January when there are few other flowers. They are not glamorous flowers. On my walk I suddenly smell faint fragrant. I look up, then there is Japanese allspice. The scent is noble and contains hopes for the spring ahead.
Sweep up a lot of good fortune!
Tori-no-Ichi Fair in Asakusa and bamboo rakes
Explored Tori-no-Ichi Fair in Asakusa today. Many shops were selling bamboo rakes which are elegantly decorated and are said to bring prosperity the coming year. After each sale, the entire shop’s staff will clap their hands to show their appreciation. These lively shouts gave me energy. May the economy be recovering next year!
Based in Tokyo, Sachiko Hanashiro is a renowned artist and popular teacher of Etegami. She started making Etegami in 1985, and held her first exhibition in 1987. The number of students she taught online and offline is over 100,000. She is also the founder of the Etegami Flower Association, which she still runs. Her appearances on TV have helped to spread the culture of Etegami. In 2000, she was recognized with an award from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for her contributions to the letter-writing culture in Japan.
Learn Etegami with us!