Year of the Sheep 2015 Nengajo Design Contest

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan

See all the winners of the 2015 Nengajo Design Contest here!

The JICC is proud to present our fifth annual Nengajo New Year's Card contest! As 2015 is the year of the sheep, the nengajo design should include either a sheep and/or the kanji for sheep (未) that is found in the Zodiac animal calendar. This year, our nengajo contest will be split into youth division (0-17) and adult division (18+).

The winning designs will be sent out to the JICC’s mailing list as the official New Year’s greeting, and also appear in official Embassy newsletter, Japan Now. The winners will also receive a fukubukuro — a Japanese New Year's goodie bag full of fun surprises!

To learn more about the tradition of nengajo, click here.

For official rules and how to enter, click here.


Oshougatsu, or the New Year's holiday, is a very special time in Japan. Perhaps the most honored and celebrated of all Japanese holidays, preparations begin long in advance as people clean their homes from top to bottom (osouji), prepare traditional food to be eaten during the first three days of the new year (osechi ryouri), and write their New Year's greeting cards, or nengajo.

Much like the holiday greeting cards exchanged in the West, nengajo are an important part of Japan's New Year festivities. By sending nengajo to friends, family and colleagues, the people of Japan can share their wish for a peaceful, prosperous and happy new year, as well as express their gratitude for help and kindness received in the past year in the hopes of preserving their good relations in the year ahead.

Nengajo cards are distinctively designed with special New Year's motifs. Many feature the eto, or zodiac animal, of the upcoming year. Traditional themes such as kadomatsu (decorative arrangements of pine, bamboo and sometimes plum blossoms), kites, and the sun rising over Mount Fuji are also popular.

Official 2015 Nengajo Design Contest Rules

  • Open to people of all ages.
  • Include your name, age, city, state, and/or country in the caption!
  • The design must fit the traditional postcard size of 4x6 inches.
  • Participants are encouraged to create designs that incorporate a sheep and/or the kanji for sheep that is used in the Zodiac animal calendar eto. The year 2015 (or Heisei 27 in the Japanese calendar) should also be included.
  • The design must be the contestant's original artwork, not taken directly from any manga, or anime, a website, or other image or artwork protected by copyright.
  • Submissions must be received in digital format. High resolution photographs and scans of non-digital artwork can be uploaded to the JICC's Facebook page or sent by e-mail to jicc@ws.mofa.go.jp.
  • Designs must be received by e-mail or submitted to the JICC's Facebook page by 9:00am Eastern Standard Time on December 15th, 2014.

Photo & Video Policy

The Japan Information Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan reserves the right to use any photograph/video taken at any event sponsored by JICC, without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. JICC may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by JICC including but not limited to: brochures, invitations, newspapers, magazines, television, social media, websites, etc. To ensure the privacy of individuals and children, images will not be identified using full names or personal identifying information without written approval from the photographed subject, parent or legal guardian. A person attending a JICC event who does not wish to have their image recorded for distribution should make their wishes known to the photographer/videographer, and/or the event organizers.