Japanese Stationery: Modern Etiquette

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Japan has turned the practice of writing letters into an art form. In Japan, correspondence rules are different, and long letters are appreciated. If you send a New Year’s card, the word “年賀” (which means “New Year’s greetings”) should be written in red on the front side of an envelope. In this case, a post office will hold your letter and deliver it on January 1st (because New Year’s cards shouldn’t arrive before New Year’s Day).

Personal letters are traditionally written by hand using blue or black ink. You should avoid writing a person’s name in red ink (due to names on graves are red).

Like all Japanese texts, addresses can also be written in vertical columns from the right to the left instead in horizontal rows. Vertical writing is traditional and more formal.

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Money gifts are usually presented in special envelopes tied with a cord. Before buying an envelope, make sure you know which kind of envelope you should give for the particular occasion.

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