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3D cards are all the rage. At least they certainly were when I checked out the card collection at LOFT, an emporium of stationery, home goods, beauty supplies, and gifts. There were cards featuring classic Japanese themes like the ocean, morning glories, goldfish, fireflies, and fireworks. I especially like the details in the pop-up cards depicting summer scenes but my favorite card is the one with black and red goldfish merrily swimming in a fishbowl. It reminds me of all the festivals with kingyo sukui booths where my friends and I would compete to scoop the most goldfish and turtles with flimsy paper nets.

Speaking of festivals, there seem to be big summer events and fireworks every weekend over here in Tokyo. Just two weeks ago, I watched a dazzling array of colors light up the night sky while Tokyo Tower glowed blue and red. Festivals celebrating Obon, a Bhuddist observance to welcome home the spirits of ancestors, abound, filling public parks and narrow shopping streets with paper lanterns, food stalls, dance performers and taiko drummers. But the big highlight of my summers in Japan has always been visiting my grandparents’ house in Awaji, an island near Kobe (and the first island created, according to Japanese mythology), and dipping my feet in the ocean.

Sure, there's the heat, humidity and noisy cicadas, but you can't help but enjoy Japanese summers. Even though there is no actual holiday to commemorate, spreading the summer love and sending a fun card that will surprise and delight my friends and family is a good enough excuse for me.