Tag Archives: お年玉

2014 New Years Postcard lottery

28 Jan

Every year in late January the Japan Post Office announces the winning numbers of the 年賀ハガキお年玉 (New Years Postcard lottery).

I’ve written blog posts about it. Click here to read one that explains about it.

There used to be nine winning number combinations years ago…then it was reduced to seven winning number combinations. This year, there are only four winning combinations.

First place: if you have a postcard with the last five digits being 97085, you’ve won ¥10,000.

Second place: if the last four digits are 2344, you win your choice from a selection of various prizes. Mainly foods, drinks and kitchen supplies.

Third place: if the last two digits on any of your postcards are either 72 or 74, you win a sheet of two postage stamps with this year’s Chinese horoscope character (the horse).

“Year of the Horse” stamps for 2014.

Every year I only win the postage stamps, if anything at all. Later today I’m going to check my postcards…hopefully I’ll have a first-place winner this year!

How about you? Did you win?

2012 New Years Postcard Lottery

23 Jan

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, including last year, Japan’s 年賀状 (New Year Postcards) that are mailed in Japan to friends and family every New Years season have a six-digit number in the lower right-hand corner on the back.

And every January, the Japan Post Office draws random numbers for the New Years Postcard Lottery. People who have cards (from the current year) with a matching number win prizes.
Every year the prizes are basically the same…but they’re very nice prizes.

This year’s (2012) winning numbers were drawn today.
The winning numbers are:

First Place Prize: 030625 (Odds of winning: 1 in one-million)
Choice of prize includes: a 40″ Sharp TV, Canon printer, Toshiba computer, overseas or domestic (Japan) trips.

Second Place Prize: 071658, 153787, or 675457  (Odds of winning: 3 in one-million)
Choice of prize includes: a Canon digital camera, X-Box, domestic (Japan) hotel stay, or a folding bicycle (with “no-flat tires“).

Foldable bicycle

Third Place Prize: cards with the last-four digits being 2511 (Odds of winning: 1 in 10,000)
Choice of prize: One of many wonderful food items such as cookies, cakes, tea, curry, etc.

Fourth Place Prize: cards with the last-two digits being 27 or 44 (Odds of winning: 2 in 100)
Prize (no choice): A set of two commemorative “Year of the Dragonpostage stamps.

2012 "Year of the Dragon" postage stamps

Once again, I won a few sets of the stamps but none of the “big” prizes. Well, there’s always next year.

How about you?
Are you in Japan? Did you win any of these prizes?
If you live in another country…does your post office have a similar lottery?

(By the way, it’s snowing in Tokyo right now. The first snow of this winter for Tokyo. It normally snows two or three times each winter in this city.)

I won stamps…again

23 Jan

As I mentioned before on this blog (including this post), Japanese people send friends and family 年賀状 (New Years postcards) every year and each of these postcards has a unique six digit serial number on the back lower-right-hand corner.

This number is for the annual お年玉 (Japan Postal New Years lottery drawing).

Every year in late January, the post office announces seven sets of winning numbers.

This year’s winning numbers were announced today.

They are:

First Place (with a 1 in one-million chance of winning) postcards with the number 651694.
People who have a card with this number can choose a prize of either a digital TV,

a trip to Hawaii or any domestic (Japan) location,
a set of office supplies,
a laptop computer / digital camera / digital printer combo,


or a bicycle

Second Place (with a 3 in one-million chance of winning) has winning numbers of either: 403580, 228949, or 022471.
These prizes are a choice of a wii Game set,
a digital camera and digital frame set,
a humidifier,
a domestic trip (with hotel, dinner, and lunch), or
a coffee maker.

Third Place (1 in 10,000 chance) are cards with the last four digits of 8363.
The prize is a choice from a large variety of foods.

Fourth Place (2 in 100 chance) are cards with the last two digits of either 69 or 02.
The prize is two Japanese postage stamps with pictures of a rabbit (2011 is “The Year of the Rabbit”).

Last year (2010), I had a post card with the winning number for a set of two stamps with pictures of a tiger (2010 was “the Year of the Tiger”)…and this year I have two postcards with winning numbers for stamps again.

Maybe one year we’ll win one of the big prizes.

お年玉 Kit-Kat

8 Dec

Last January, I wrote about Kit-Kat Japan‘s special chocolates for kids taking their school entrance exams (click here to read it).

I gave a box to my oldest daughter last winter when she was taking her high school entrance exams.
This year, my second daughter is in the ninth grade (final year of junior high school), so she’ll be taking her high school entrance exams next month. I’ll be buying the chocolate for her next month.

But right now, Kit-Kat Japan has another special box.
It’s 「お年玉 Kit-Kat」 (“Otoshidama-Kit-Kat“).

(Otoshidama Kit-Kat)

「お年玉」 (Otoshidama) is gift money given to children at New Years time.
It’s a Japanese tradition. Kids can receive special envelopes of money from all of their adult relatives at New Years until they turn twenty-years-old.

This Kit-Kat box has a special envelope pocket on the side to put money inside and a space to write “To” and “From”.
It also has a tiger on the box because 2010 will be the “Year Of The Tiger“.

Usually Japanese kids get 「お年玉」 (New Years gift money) in envelopes like these:

++++++++

And, unrelated, the “2010 Tokyo Marathon” will take place on 2010 February 28.

Last March, I wrote about the “2009 Tokyo Marathon“.
Click here to read it.

Japanese New Years

27 Dec

In Japan, お正月 (New Years) is the biggest holiday.
It can be compared to クリスマス is Western countries because stores and houses are decorated, families get together for a large traditional dinner, kids get gifts, cards are sent, and many shops are closed for the holiday (although nowadays most stores stay open).

(Click here to read my short FAQ about お正月 (Japanese New Years)).

There’s alot to お正月 (Japanese New Years), so I hope I can explain it clearly.

Until about two-hundred years ago, Japan followed the Chinese year with New Years in early Spring, but now follows the Western calendar with New Years Day on January 1. But the Chinese zodiac is still used with each year being represented by an animal. There are twelve animals (well, actually eleven animals and a dragon ;) )…2008 is the “Year Of The Mouse” and 2009 will be the “Year Of The Cow”.

In late-December, many people go out drinking with friends or co-workers for a 忘年会 (End-Of The-Year Party), (or they may go out with them in January for a 新年会 (New Year Party) instead).

In December, people clean their houses from top to bottom (similar to “Spring Cleaning” in the West) and they may decorate their house with traditional Japanese New Years decorations such as 鏡餅 (kagami-mochi), 門松 (kado-matsu), おかざり (okazari), and ダルマ (daruma).

ダルマ (Daruma)

Also in December, people write and send out 年賀状 (New Years Postcards), which are kinda similar to Xmas cards in Western countries.
年賀状 (New Years Postcards) are written by hand on special New Years postcards that can be purchased from the post office or some other stores.
Many people buy blank postcards and draw their own picture on it that usually incorporates the new years Chinese zodiac animal and some New Years greeting, or they buy postcards with New Years pictures and greetings on them, or nowadays it’s become popular to print them on the computer (Japanese Microsoft Office Word® software on Windows® comes with a function to design 年賀状 (New Years Postcards)), or another option many people use is to have a photo studio make their 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) with a family photo (usually if there was a major event that year in their family, such as their kid’s 7-5-3 Festival).
Regardless of how they make their 年賀状 (New Years Postcards), a personal message to the addressee is handwritten on each one.

If 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) are put in the mailbox during dates specified by the post office, they are guaranteed to be delivered on January 1 exactly.

Also, each 年賀状 (New Years Postcard) has it’s own serial number printed on the back. In January, the post office announces a series randomly drawn numbers for a New Years Postal Lottery…whoever has a postcard with a winning number can receive a prize which is often something like a paid vacation in Hawaii, a television, a stationary set or stamps.
(I have never won anything yet. Not even stamps. :( ).

Then on New Years Eve, people might watch one of the popular music theme shows on television or they may pay a visit to a temple for the temple priest’s ringing of the temple bell 108 times…which is a Buddhist tradition.

On New Years Day, firsts are important. The first meal of the New Year should be 年越そば (New Year’s noodles), many people watch the year’s first sunrise, the first dream of the year is important, as well as the first calligraphy, first tea ceremony, etc.

Just like Xmas in the West, families get together on New Years Day for have a traditional Japanese お正月 (New Years) dinner called お節料理 (O-sechi-ryouri). Children are given お年玉 (gifts of money in special envelopes). These envelopes are usually decorated with popular cartoon characters…so, often, when the kids are little, the envelopes are more appealing to them than the money inside!
And playing お正月 (New Years) games like かるた (Karuta) or 福笑い (Fukuwarai) is popular.

Finally, on New Years Day and for a few days following, stores often have big sales…so shopping is popular (especially with young women). Many stores also have 福袋…which is often translated as “Happy Bag” or “Lucky Bag“. These are bags of various items from the store put inside a sealed bag and sold at a discount. The only catch is…you can’t look inside the bag until you pay for it (the stores tell if whether the items are for men, women or children and what the sizes are (if there are clothes inside)).

お正月 (New Years) is also one of the two times a year that the public is allowed inside the Imperial Palace grounds to hear the Japanese Emperor’s New Year’s greeting.

So, お正月 (New Years) is a busy time…but it’s also fun.

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