Leafing Through My Postcard Collection

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Why are postcards called hagaki (葉書)? My friend asked me this question while I was paying a visit to her coffee shop. Ha is a leaf and kaki is writing. I gave up and she headed to the entry to pluck a leaf from her tree.Japanese Postcard Leaf She returned and proceeded to write me a message by using the tip of a pencil. Any somewhat pointy tool could be used, because the letters are made by the color change which occurs when cells are crushed.

Her explanation was that, before paper was readily available, people would send brief messages on leaves. In this photograph you can see the part where she says it is cold everyday (毎日さむいですね).

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4 Responses to “Leafing Through My Postcard Collection”

  1. verbivore Says:

    I wonder if other cultures did this as well – now I’m curious to look into the idea a bit more.

  2. びっくり Says:

    I wonder if Japanese people did it, or if it is just a story to explain the kanji that are used. 🙂 I’ll probably ask around a bit, but paper has a very long history in Japan… I won’t find anyone with firsthand knowledge.

  3. fightingwindmills Says:

    Reminds me of the corncob in Tonari no Totoro. It’s a simple and beautiful way to write someone a message.

  4. びっくり Says:

    Oh, yes, I remember that… To Mom… I think that was the message written in the husk. I loaned my complete Studio Ghibli works out to a woman whose number I lost. In Japan, as in America, many women will torture the man who doesn’t call back. Of course, when these kind of games are played, there is no way to allow for lost info. I even contacted a mutual friend to get the number and haven’t heard back. I guess she really just wanted to steal my DVDs and I’ll have to look other places for a date. Just a shame that a whole DVD set has disappeared. (And it was a gift from a friend.)

    Maybe I’ll just have to buy the full-priced DVD to replace my losses.

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