I had to send out two checks by mail to my teacher immediately, and one of them was overdue. I took out two Ippitsu-sen pads, wrote a short message, apologizing for not sending sooner.
Even though I am supposed to just send a check, a book, or anything to the people I know, I usually write a message on a Japanese “message writing paper” to say hi.
Ippitsu sen (Ippitsu = a short message, sen = writing sheet) is a smaller writing pad. It is somewhat like sticky notes, but can be more formal, more casual than letter writing sheets. In most cases, Ippitsu sen sheets have kawaii (cute) pictures on them. Usually you write parallel to the longer side. The size is about 7 inches by 3 inches, which enables me to write three or four short sentences on one sheet.
In Japan, there are many kinds of lovely writing supplies – fountain pens, notebooks, and writing papers to feast the writer's eyes upon. I think Ippitsu sen is one of them. When in Japan, I always look for some when I get a chance.
Hand-written messages, even short, always give me warmth and happiness in the heart, imagining that a friend in the busy life took some time to send me a hand-written message. They are more private than postcards, and definitely more special than emails.