Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Have a Cozy New Year in 2012!

Dearest Friends of Blackcabbit,
A Japanese New Year e-card (Nengajo/ 年賀状) for you, for the year 2012.
May the Lord bless you and your loved ones with family bliss and happiness.


Keeping warm inside a dragon-shaped kamakura (Japanese snow igloo) and watching the yaki-mochi (grilled rice cake) in action.

Story behind my illustration

My cats usually avoid my son because they find the toddler too loud and over-excited. However, on several rare occasions, I found the threesome enjoying the warm winter sunshine next to the sliding glass door. Seeing that, melt my heart and gave me the idea for the nengajo and a prayer for my family:

No matter how cold things get,
no matter how difficult situations become,
we will stick together as a family,
learn to put aside our differences,
and to fill our hearts with gratitude.

Translation/Information about this year’s Nengajo:

(たつ) – Year of Dragon
[Pronounced as “Tatsu”]
An interesting note: You may find images of sea-horses instead of dragons on nengajo. Why? This is because they share the same kanji (竜) and sea horse in Japanese is Tatsu no Otoshigo (竜の落子), which means “son of dragon”.

 (Kizuna) – Bond / Ties
絆深める (Kizuna fukameru) – To deepen our ties.
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu” (明けましておめでとうございます), which mean “Happy New Year” is usually a popular expression used on Nengajo. However, with all the tragedies caused by 3.11 earthquake-tsunami disaster in 2011, it became rather insensitive to use that greeting this year. Hence, to respect the feelings of Tohoku-Kanto survivors (who are still trying to pick up pieces of their lives), many of us had replaced the usual New Year greetings with phrases of unity, such as Kizuna, Ganbaro Nippon (がんばろう日本/ Keep at it, Japan), or One Japan etc.

A year filled with gratitude

Heisei Nijuyon Nen(平成24年) – Current Japan Era
/ Japanese way of saying Year 2012

Gantan (元旦) means the morning of first January.



Nengajo – Japanese New Year Card
Japanese Annual Events (Main Page)

6 comments on “Have a Cozy New Year in 2012!

  1. Nancy
    January 26, 2012

    Hello and thank you for your lovely posts on nengajo and,of course, the beautiful artwork you do! It’s interesting to know your technique which you generously share — not because I plan to do it — but to see how the idea of making a nengajo by hand changes over time, with new technology.
    I found you through the “google images” because I’m doing a little research on nengajo for a postcard club. I have a question about the toshidama stamps you show in a different post on the tiger and rabbit years. You received them as a consolation prize, but I recall that people also can buy them at the post office. Can I ask what you people do with these? They are too nice to use, with the paper frame and all. Do people collect them? (that’s what I did, but I don’t know the “real” tradition). I used to live in Japan, in Tokyo and also Toyama prefecture, and loved the nengajo custom.
    Thanks again for your thoughtful posts. The images are warm, inviting and full of human sympathy. The translations are lovely. The details you include, such as images of the lottery cards, complete with official stamp upon claiming the prize, are great!

    • blackcabbit
      January 27, 2012

      Hi Nancy, thank you so much for dropping by. So glad you enjoy my posts. Yup I’m very fond of the nengajo and etegami custom of the Japanese. In fact, I’m hoping that you and your postcard club will consider visiting & joining my flickr group “Postcard Art in Japanese Style.” It will be wonderful if you and your friends will share your related masterpieces with my group.

      In regards to stamps (お年玉切手シート)…
      As for our family, we passed it to my MIL, who actually use it. I did not attempt to collect them because knowing my character I will become too obsessed and will attempt to acquire them all. Of which, I’m sure I’d eventually spend a fortune since the otoshidama stamps have been around for a long long time. I know Japanese stamp collectors do keep them in special albums, and are selling/buying the stamps at Rakuten Auction (TEMPTING!)

      Thank you for taking the time to write an encouraging comment for me. It really makes my day. Please do visit my blog again, hear from you soon! Have a blessed day and stay warm! Oh, please check out my new post. We got another sets of otoshidama stamp this year! ^_^Y

  2. Hannah
    January 1, 2012

    Nice! It is getting better & better each time. It’s looking more & more like some Japanese anime cum calligraphy style, that’s the best I can describle. Cute. (^_-)

    Was it all done in freehand (hand drawn, I mean)?

    • blackcabbit
      January 1, 2012

      Arigato Hannah (hug)
      Hee hee glad you ask… here is my WIP:
      1. Illustration is hand drawn with
      mechanical pencil (blue lead) on A4 paper.
      2. Scanned, changed to greyscale & reduced opacity.
      3. Print out on thick paper (A4)
      4. Inked over the lines with self-ink brushes (Pentel Penteru).
      5. Wordings did separately with calligraphy liquid ink & Chinese brushes
      6. Scanned all work
      7. Compiled work in Pixelmator
      (cos i cannot affort photoshop :P)
      8. Colored in Corel Painter 11 with my wacom tablet

      Sound tedious right. Actually, I do enjoy the many steps to achieve the type of illustration i like. hoho I always make life difficult for myself LOL.

      Frankly, after a few try out with Painter 11, I realized it doesn’t really gave me the dry-brush feel that I like. So, its back to the most primitive method – HAND DRAWN (the ultimate machine). However, i must add… coloring with painter and wacom tablet is a breeze!

  3. Alan Zulch
    January 1, 2012

    Dear Takahashi-san,

    Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! Or, better to say, Kizuna fukameru, as I just learned from your latest, and always informative and engaging, posts.

    Thank you for sharing your creativity, insights, and homey family ties this last year. They are a welcome window and connection to a magnificent culture and people.

    We just returned two days ago from two weeks in Tokyo and Kagoshima, visiting relatives (and the magical Sakurajima, whose breathing sounds of eruption awed me as I drove around it one day, reminding me of the forces of nature we so take for granted).

    May you and your family have a great gantan and a truly wonderful new year!


    • blackcabbit
      January 1, 2012

      Blessed New year to you and your family, Alan. Thank you so much for your continued support, I really appreciate it and I cannot thank you enough. I hope I can visit Kagoshima with my family one day. If I do, please let me know where are the must-go-to-see spots and most important, THE must-eat FOOD for the “kuishinbo” me. ^_^Y Have a great year filled with goodness and family bliss! Cheers!

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