Above: New Year's "Nengajo" created by Mizu Sugimura, copyright 2011.
While New Year's parties in most Puget Sound basin households have come and gone, there's still time to prepare for the advent of the Asian lunar calendar which welcomes in "2011 -The Year of the Rabbit" on February 3. Families and guests visiting Seattle's Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience on Saturday, January 15 can join in the celebration by making traditional Japanese "nengajo" or New Year's postcard greetings from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. in the Community Hall.
The free family oriented art activity will be led by Federal Way artist Mizu Sugimura, a third-generation American of Japanese descent whose grandparents exchanged nengajo with relatives they left behind in their native land after immigrating to the United States shortly after the advent of the 20th century.
In days of yore Sugimura shares, correspondence with family living beyond the Pacific Ocean was at most sporadic. In some cases, no messages were ever received. Also, many immigrants who were for the most part often single men with no families of their own, independent and hungry for jobs moved often leaving no forwarding addresses to the consternation of parents and siblings hungry for news.
The annual exchange of New Years greetings by postcard begun in the first years of postal service in Japan, was a perfect reminder for "immigrant workers to send not only their good wishes at the dawn of a new year" but communicate as well a second more important message: "I am still alive."
Sugimura likens these early postcards as kind of a pioneer era form of Twitter, an observation which may tickle the creative imagination of audiences who have been heretofore unable to make the study of family history or any history ring familiar with their younger family offspring.
She also hopes to share yet another idea with her audiences in this era of cost-cutting, downsizing and economic reduction that: "Ideas are free." The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is located at 719 South King Street in the heart of Seattle's International District. For more information including hours and directions click here.