Writing postcards feels like an art that is fading into dark shadow.
There was a time when postcards was a key part of traveling, transition of seasons, and life events. These days, I cannot even convince those front desk clerks at hotels to mail some postcards for me. They look at me like I am a crazy person like “what? do you think this is a post office?” written on their faces. Isn’t “sending postcards for customers” a part of their job description?
Believe it or not, I have a penpal. We started sending cards to each other through Love Notes project last spring, but these days we send letters and cards for no reason. I hardly know about her, except for the fact that she’s from Canada and lives in the west Japan. She does not know what I do, why I participated in the project in the first place, nor whether I am married or not (not).
But that’s OK. Writing a card itself is like touching a sculpture at the museums to me. It feels like being part of something beautiful and timeless.
In Japan, we have a tradition to send postcards as seasonal greetings twice a year – at the new year and during the height of summer. We print fifty or, depending on a person, a thousand of a same card, and sometimes just send them out without writing any note at all. At best, we write a few sentences.
I stopped doing the summer cards when I was a kid (not many people do that these days), and I have been pretty bad at keeping the winter tradition these past several years. It has been a headache for me always, because… it’s so boring. Nobody can write a hundred of different but equally interesting postcards in a few days. Hence, people just send the same thing to everyone. It is a beautiful tradition, I know – yet I feel little motivation on my side.
Writing to a penpal is a completely different thing. It has stories to tell, feeling to convey, a sense of caring that you paste on the surface like a stamp.
Perhaps it is time to revisit and redefine the Japanese tradition? I don’t know.