Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

August 5, 2013

Shochu mimai: Well-wishing in the hot weather

The hot and humid summer in Japan tends to wear people out. It is therefore custom to inquire after the health of friends and acquaintances during the greatest heat, which lasts somewhere from July 20 to the first week of August. Since the Taisho period, this is done by sending a special postcard which is called shochu mimai ("asking after a person’s health in the hot weather”).

shochumimai
[Shochu mimai cards]

The postcards are usually decorated with seasonal images and those issued by the post office have lottery numbers printed at the bottom, just like the cards used at New Year. If you miss sending your cards before August 8, don’t worry: just change the greeting in Japanese to zansho mimai, to ask after your friend’s health in the “lingering heat."