The Japan Post has been issuing many beautifully designed special Japanese stamps series. One of the more notable series among the special issue Japan stamps is the 'World Heritage' series, the 'Harmony with Nature' series, and the 'Seasonal Flowers' series.
Part of the commemorative Japan stamps category, special Japanese stamps convince with their attention to details and with their vibrant colors, reminiscent of actual photographic images.
Japanese zodiac letters calligraphy are the theme of this special issue Japan stamps sheet. The sheet shows twelve different ways of writing the character for the snake sign.
Though Japan, in the 19th century, moved rapidly towards Westernization, the lunar calendar continues to influence Japanese daily life. Having learned astrology from the Chinese, the earliest extant Japanese horoscope dates back to 1112 A.D.
The system of the twelve-year cycle of the animal signs was built from the observations of the orbit of Jupiter around the sun. The astronomers divided the celestial circle into twelve sections and rounded it up to 12 years. The 60 year cycle is made of two distinct cycles. The first is the cycle of ten heavenly stems. The second is the cycle of the twelve zodiac animal signs. They are in order as follows: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.
Price: US$ 23.90
The special Japanese stamps shown on the below sheet, illustrate twelve different styles of calligraphy that stand for the snake zodiac.
They are from top to bottom:
The bottom left hand side of the Japan stamps sheet shows the snake wrapped around a Japanese fukubukuro lucky bag.
Issue date for these special issue Japan stamps is November 21, 2012.
Japanese traditional craft are the focus of this new special issue Japan stamps sheet.
The many and varied traditional handicrafts of Japan are officially recognized and protected. Some enjoy status as ameibutsu or regional specialty.
Some of the most famous Japanese crafts and products are shown on these commemorative Japanese stamps.
The above special Japanese stamps show the following images (left to right column):
Release date for these special Japanese stamps is October 25, 2012.
Price: US$ 15.70
The latest sheet in the World Heritage special Japanese stamps series takes us to Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture. Hiraizumi historic monuments and sites is a group of five sites from the late 11th and 12th century. It was inscribed in the UNESCO list in 2011.
In the past, under the rule of the Fujiwara Clan, Hiraizumi served as an important political, military, commercial, and cultural center during the Heian period. At that time, a variety of temples and gardens were built based on the cosmology of Pure Land Buddhism.
The fives sites inscribed in the UNESCO list and which are pictured on the commemorative Japan stamps sheet to the left are:
The background shows the concrete outer hall in which the golden Konjikido at Chuson-ji is contained in.
These special issue Japan stamps were issued on June 29, 2012.
Price: US$ 15.70 (incl. shipping)
Japan accepted the UNESCO World Heritage Convention on June 30 1992. As of June this year 2012, sixteen properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. Among these, there are twelve cultural sites and four natural sites.
A further twelve sites have been submitted for inscription and are currently on the tentative list.
Volume 5 of the 'World Heritage' special Japanese stamps cover the Ogasawara Islands. Also known as the Bonin Island Archipelago, they are a collection of over 30 subtropical and tropical islands located approx. 1000km south of Tokyo. Administratively, they are part of Tokyo Prefecture.
The Ogasawara Islands were added to UNESCO's lost of World Natural Heritage sites in July 2011.
Animals and plants are specific to the islands since they have undergone unique evolutionary processes.
The islands are often dubbed the 'Galapagos of the Orient' because they have never been connected with a continent.
This special issue Japan stamps sheet is exquisitely designed and pictures the following vibrant wildlife and flora and fauna images:
At the top of this special Japanese stamps sheet, a humpback whale.
These Japan commemorative stamps were issued on June 20, 2012.
Price: US$ 15.70 (incl. shipping)
One of the characteristics of Japanese culture is often said to be the close and harmonious relationship with nature. The Japanese appreciation of nature has been reflected in the Japan Post 'Harmony with Nature Series.'
The second volume of the nature commemorative Japan stamps cover wildlife and flowers that are prevalent throughout Japan.
The special issue Japan stamps on the left depict the following wildlife and flowers:
These special Japanese stamps were issued on August 23, 2012.
Price: US$ 14.00 (incl. shipping)
The Japanese make a lot of the fact that the country has four distinct seasons, almost as if it was something unique to their country. The fact that the Japanese archipelago covers several climatic zones and is caught between the Asia and the Pacific does cause dramatic swings in the weather, as well as, seasonal traits that only Japan offer.
From a Japanese point-of-view, the four seasons are full of nature's expressions and have, since ancient times, influenced the people's feelings through the various seasonal flowers.
For example, spring in Japan is often represented by the cherry blossom flower.
With early summer comes the Japanese Azalea. Red and white colored Azaleas are particularly popular.
In Summer and with the onset of the rainy season, the Hydrangeas come to life. They are said to let the people enjoy the rain a bit more.
The Japanese stamps shown on the left-hand side stamp sheet focus on the summer season and are:
These commemorative Japanese stamps were issued on June 7, 2012.
Currently OUT OF STOCK
Volume 2 of the flower series special Japanese stamps focuses on spring time.
Flowers shown on the volume 2 commemorative Japan stamps are:
These special issue Japan stamps were issued on March 1, 2012.
Currently OUT OF STOCK
In Japan, July 23 is known as 'fumi no hi,' the day of letters. The old name of the month of July was actually 'fumi tsuki' which means 'letter month.'
The old Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (now Japan Post Holdings) called this day into life in 1979. Since then, a special commemorative Japan stamps sheet has been issued every single year.
The latest fumi no hi Japanese stamps are entitled 'Hyakunin Isshu.' The different stamp sheets were issued on the same day for July 23, 2012; one denominated at 50 Yen and one at 80 Yen per stamp.
The commemorative Japan stamps sheet below additionally includes image samples of waka love poems (lower and upper poems) for each of the featured notable poets.
Both stamp sheets are exquisitely exotic in design and a perfect addition to any Japanese stamp collection.
Hyakunin Isshue is a traditional anthology style of compiling Japanese waka poetry. Each contributor writes one poem for the anthology.
Literally, Hyakunin Isshu translates to 'one hundred people, one poem (each).'
The following historic waka poets are pictured on the left-hand Japan stamps:
These special Japanese stamps were issued on July 23, 2012.
Price - 50 Yen Sheet: US$ 13.40 (incl. shipping)
Price - 80 Yen Sheet: US$ 16.40 (incl. shipping)
In 2012, the Japan post service will for the first time publish an 'ukiyo-e' stamp series. The special issue volume 1 stamp sheet will be released in August.
For those Japanese stamp collectors that are unfamiliar with the term ukiyo-e, the latter describes a Japanese woodblock print and painting genre from the time between the 17th and 20th centuries.
Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) literally means 'pictures of the floating world,' a term used to refer to the fleeting world of beauty and entertainment as associated with Japanese kabuki, geisha, and courtesans.
The ukiyo-e art form became popular during the Edo-period in the second half of the 17th century.
Ukiyo-e wood prints were affordable to everyone because they could be mass-produced. They were meant for the regular townsmen who were not wealthy enough to afford an original painting.
The original subject of ukiyo-e was city-life, in particular scenes from the entertainment districts, such as those depicting courtesans, sumo wrestlers, and actors. Later on landscapes became popular.
The individual stamps on this commemorative Japan stamps sheet show images from the Edo-period (roughly 17th-19th century). They focus on prints of Japan's notable sites and beautiful women of Edo (former name for Tokyo) by famous artist Utagawa Hiroshige.
These special Japanese stamps were released on August 1, 2012.
It applies a 6 color offset printing method.
Price: US$ 16.40 (incl. shipping)