Etegami and Beautiful Friendships

Etegami postcard

Etegami is Japanese for picture postcard, literally, “e” is picture and “tegami” is letter.

Today I will show you my process.

What you need:


•postcard stock

•Yasutomo Sumi-e Ink

•Yasutomo Traditional Chinese Watercolors

•a palette

•2 brushes, one for the ink and one for the watercolor paint. For the watercolor paint I used the Niji waterbrush.

•Magic Rub Eraser or your own name stamp if you have one.

First you actually need a subject to paint. Etegamis are traditionally seasonal, specific to where you are. Here in Hawaii we don’t really have fall colors, so I thought maybe I could paint some dried protea I had in my studio. It’s not vibrant, more muted in color, kind of fallish, right?


In this first example I started with a Strathmore watercolor postcard paper. Taking my Chinese brush and holding it perpendicular with 2 fingers I dip it into the black Sumi-e ink and begin to slowly draw my image, guiding the brush but not being too careful, letting “accidents” happen. They make for more interesting paintings.

EtegamiA-postcard  EtegamiA-brush


I’m now ready to add color. Taking my Niji Waterbrush I mix white with a little blue, red and brown for the tone I want. With Etegami you don’t really stroke the colors, you dab it and let some places have no paint, whatever happens, it’s all okay.



I squeeze the waterbrush  while painting, letting the paint kind of roll around, and then blot out the excess with a paper towel.


When you finish painting, since it is a postcard, an etegami, you write a short message. Maybe a poem, or something philosophical.  At first I wrote Beautiful Friends are Forever, relating the image and the message to whomever I was going to send this to. In this case, a very good friend who first introduced me to etegami this summer. But then I thought the message had kind of a double meaning so I made “Friends” “Friendship” so there would no mistake. Next, I added some more color to the message toning things down to match the flower image.


Finally, in Etegami instead of signing the artwork you stamp it with your own mark. In this case, I carved my name with an exacto on to a Prismacolor magic rub eraser. Please be careful here. If you have your own stamp already by all means use it. As you can see, my stamp is pretty crude, but makes for an interesting mark. And don’t forget to write in mirror. I’m lucky, I only have to remember to do the “k” backwards.


I did one more on real etegami paper. Real Etegami paper is kind of like rice paper. The ink spreads and makes more interesting lines. But it’s only my second effort at this and my frugal self was saving the paper for when I could do better. Anyway, here are images from that effort. Click on any image to see them larger.


Finished postcard.

Much Aloha from Tuko Fujisaki.

2 thoughts on “Etegami and Beautiful Friendships

  1. Thanks so much for this. Great job!!

  2. Love the way you handled the protea. They are beautiful flowers and you did a great job with them.

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