With the yearend rush fast approaching, Dave has a very timely question about Japanese New Year cards:

"I'm not a Christmas card kind of guy and last year was no exception. However, at New Year's I got a bunch of postcards from friends and coworkers wishing me a happy 2013. Who should I send them to and when should I send them by?"

The cards Dave refers to are called nengajō and serve largely the same role as Christmas and holiday cards in Western countries — as greetings to friends, relatives and colleagues. Just as less people are sending holiday cards these days, younger generations of Japanese are also cutting back on New Year's greetings, being more likely to send an email via their cellphone. However, the nengajō still holds an important role in social custom here, and as Dave notes, even foreign residents who would never think of sending cards back home may wish to brush up on the etiquette.