Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2016

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Happy New Year! Before we get back into the swing of things it’s time for a bit of monkey business. Each year we select a handful of our favorite nengajo, or New Year’s cards, created by Japanese designers, illustrators and other creatives. Given that this year’s zodiac is the monkey, expect a lot of ape-themed designs.

While it’s true that sending nengajo is in a secular decline, we still enjoy the tradition as it allows us to reflect back on those we shared a moment with, whether it was intentional or by chance.

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Tokyo-based designer Eiko Tamura’s graphic monkey face incorporates an image of Mt. Fuji

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a series of typographic New Year’s cards from graphitica

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a fun twist on the three wise monkey from Individual Locker

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Going above and beyond once again is Tokyo-based photographer Irwin Wong, along with his team, who created this amazing staged image.

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Kenichi Yamada, the designer behind TERRA, carved a wooden monkey and posted it to his instagram account.

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Botanic artist Makoto Azuma posted this tranquil yet stunning photo on January 1st.

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I was surprised we didn’t see more Son Goku-themed cards. This one is from designer Masahiro Minami.

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Freelance designer Mayo riffed on vintage packaging to create this colorful card.

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Illustrator Miki created this card that’s reminiscent of the Amidakuji game.

I love this card from Design studio AQ. Classic design with a positive twist of the proverbial monkeys turning a blind eye: “see more, hear more, speak more.”

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Minimal yet stylish card from illustrator and graphic designer Minoru Arita.

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A lovely card from the illustrator behind all of Spoon & Tamago’s graphics: Naho Ogawa

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An adorable card from water-color painter Noryco, who admits that her monkey sort of looks like a frog.

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a fantastic sketch of a quiet shrine in Osaka by illustrator Sakki Jusuke.

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a vintage illustration by Kyoto-based Studio Takeuma

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and our collection wouldn’t be complete without at least 1 otaku creation. This one is from illustrator TNSK

3 Comments

  1. Lovely cards! Are they for sale ?

  2. @W Cheng – unfortunately, not for sale 🙁

  3. @W Cheng the second series is available at http://mall.aflo.com/products/detail_nenga.php?product_id=21659
    which is also my fav among all. ^^

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