Happy New Year of the Ox 2021!
I hope you all had a relaxing holiday!
My year has started with the Kakizome event on the 2nd. Jan.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event.
It was great fun!
And I was very happy to see you all and share the Kakizome experience together.
A few days later, I did the ‘Kakizome on snow’ with my daughter!
I share some snaps with you too!
The New Year’s Calligraphy called “Kakizome 書き初め” in Japanese. It is translated to the first calligraphy of the year, literally means ‘first writing’. That’s when the new zodiac character, one year’s aspirations, auspicious words in Kanji characters and the individual wishes, resolutions, theme for the new year are Calligraphy-ied at the beginning of the year on the 2nd of January.
KAKI 書き: writing, to write
ZOIME初め: first, to start, the beginning
Origin of Kakizome
The original “Kakizome” was celebrated as a court event since the Heian period. (794-1185) It was then called „Kisshohajime吉書始め“ which literally means first auspicious writing. The process of ceremony began from creating dissolving Sumi ink with using the WAKAMIZU 若水 the first sacred water drawn from the well in the morning on the first day of the year.
Then the celebrations and poems were written facing a fortune direction of the year (where the god of that year was supposed to be). This custom kept alive for the next several hundred years and it widely spread and became popular among common people in the Edo period after the temple school houses (寺小屋)were established. In the Meiji period, the Kakizome was introduced also in schools. The process of Kakizome has changed and a different way was adapted from the one at the court in the Heian era.
Purpose of Kakizome custom
Traditionally there are three points why Kakizome was celebrated.
1.Transforming one’s wishes, goals, aspirations into hand-written words
and intending to achieve these aspirations by calligraphy-ing on paper at the beginning of the year.
2.Showing the gratefulness and joy
3.Dedicating the calligraphy to the gods so one’s calligraphy skill could be improved
The Kakizome calligraphy works are burned at the ‘Dondo-Yaki’ festival,
which is a traditional event in Japan held around January 15th. People build a tower with green bamboo, cedar, straw and reeds in an open area such as the grounds of a temple, a riverbed, rice field or other crop field and burn New Year decorations and Kakizome. It is believed that your handwriting skill will improve and you will grow wiser if your Kakizome burns and soars up high into the sky. The higher the paper soot soars up, the better the calligraphy skills become. No worries, you don’t have to burn the calligraphy piece!
The Japanese are vigilant about “firsts“at the beginning of the New Year.
There are lots of “firsts”.
The first sunrise (hatsuhinode), the first visit to the shrine or temple (hatsumoude), and the first dream (hatsuyume), are among the essential “firsts” in Japan.
In addition to Kakizome celebration, I also tend to welcome a new brush and a new Sumi stick at the new year, a day before the Kakizome day on the 2nd January or on the Kakizome day. The first one is called Fudeoroshi: first use of a new brush and the latter is Sumioroshi : first use of a new Sumi.
I love doing those ceremonial input often at midnight or early morning on the first day of the year. It is such a precious moment – very meditating and mindful.
Like every year this year could be more than the previous year – I’ve enjoyed the absolute quietness on the first day and I’ve mindfully welcomed my brush, Sumi ink and the year of the ox. Hoping that I will be beautifully able to tame them throughout the year.
Thank you for reading.
Have a good start of the year.
*Here I share some video links with you.
You can see the Ox in different styles below.
Video Ox in Gyosho Style
Video Ox in Sosho sytle