knits by sachi

Etegami, the picture letter

on June 6, 2014

I received this postcard from my mother.

She painted the picture. This is a craft called “Etegami”, literally means “picture letter”

I myself have a set of Japanese water colours designed for etegami which is similar to this.

You hold your brush vertical to the paper and draw the outline with black ink first.


Then, colour in. That is all. You don’t draw with a pencil before you paint. Since you are holding the end of the brush, you don’t have too much control of it either. With etegami, there is no mistake. It is totally fine to be clumsy. It is a bit like my knitting.


You can draw anything, add any writings and send it to someone.

My mother has been always rather embarrassed of her handwriting, so I was pleasantly surprised when she sent me the postcard. She enjoys painting part and still does not want to show her work to other people much. But she says etegami is a picture letter and, it finally becomes a letter when she sends it to someone.

Her Japanese writing on the postcard says “Your favorite flower is blooming”. She remembers my favorite flower for all these years. It is called “Renge-sou” in Japanese. She certainly knows me more than I know her. I am afraid I do not know what her favorite flower is.

Renge-sou (Japanese milk vetch in English), has long been a typical feature of rural Japan. In recent years, however, this method of enriching the soil has given way to others, and the the carpets which they form in spring are becoming a less common sight. I loved these pink flowers as a little girl.

We don’t write letters much these days. Texts, fax, e-mails. But it is so nice to communicate with each other without typing. Etegami is so special and heart warming. I hope she will keep on sending me more.

“From such small bulbs. Spring is fantastic”

6 responses to “Etegami, the picture letter

  1. Interesting…I’m not that fond of watercolor because I feel like it gets messy easily, but still, this is interesting. It feels…refreshing…or maybe it’s just because of the flowers. Anyway, picture letters, huh? I feel like writing will be more fun with drawing pictures on them! ^_^

    • knitsbysachi says:

      You can write quite a lot and add a small picture in the corner, too. There isn’t much rule. This is clean and not messy at all. You can see other peoples’ work on internet. Some of them are done in English.

  2. Julie Henn says:

    What a lovely idea! I love the subtlety of watercolours! Your Mom is obviously very artistic, too! Such a personal and uplifting treasure to receive! =^..^=

    • knitsbysachi says:

      Anyone can do etegami. You will end up something really cool. I guess it is because you cannot control the brush too much. Please Google images with “etegami” and see others’ work. Some have English writings.

  3. sandisun says:

    I love pictures like this..thanks for all the beauty you share with us..I see where you get your talent..

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