Kakizome: The First Calligraphy of the New Year

At the beginning of the New Year, the Japanese are vigilant about “firsts.” The first sunrise (hatsuhinode), the first dream (hatsuyume), and the first visit to the temple or shrine (hatsumōde) are among the important “firsts” for the Japanese. Being half Japanese, I slept through 2014’s first sunrise, didn’t visit the New York Buddhist Church, and I can never remember my dreams.

I may be off to a bad start – although I did enjoy lovely osechi ryori on Oshogatsu (New Year’s Day) – so I’ll redeem myself with another “first,” kakizome, the first calligraphy of the New Year.

The tradition of kakizome began centuries ago with the Japanese writing Chinese poetry. Over time kakizome shortened to kanji for auspicious words that represent one’s resolutions for the New Year. These days the practice is a homework assignment for children, but since I’m a student of Japanese, I thought I’d try my hand at it.

And here (drumroll, please) is my kakizome for 2014:

calligraphy, kakizome, Oshogatsu, New Year, Japan, Japanese customs, Japanese traditions, writing, NYC, community, Japanese community in NYC

Yakusoku – commitment, promise

I chose yakusoku, which means “commitment” or “promise,” to express my continued commitment to myself and to you, the readers of JapanCulture•NYC, to intensify my study of the Japanese language and culture, to cover the best events and to write the best features for the website, and to bring New York’s Japanese American community together while introducing all New Yorkers to all things Japanese in New York City.