January 2 ~  Kakizome Day Lonely Planet Japan

"If you look up, there are no limits." ~ Japanese Proverb

every woman is extraordinary

Today in Japan is Kakizome Day, the "first writing" of the New Year. For this annual tradition, families use brush and black ink to write a favorite quotation, haiku, or proverb with Japanese characters on long strips of paper, creating beautiful works of art with Japanese characters.

These finished resolutions are hung and celebrated. To quote one Japanese Proverb, "The very thing one likes, one does well."

On Kakizome Day, elementary and middle school students begin the year refining their calligraphy skills. Calligraphy is integral to the curriculum and taught in all schools as part of the kokugo (national language).

Victorian philosopher John Ruskin once said, "When love and skill work together, expect a miracle." Japanese calligraphy requires skill in holding the brush, preparing the ink, and stroking and placing the characters on the paper. Creating beautiful brushwork is a celebration.

Written Japanese is complicated and requires 2,000 characters and is a blend of three writing systems: Kanji, which is the idea of the word rather than its sound, and hiragana and katakana, where the characters represent the spoken sounds.

Kanji, more complex than hiragana or katakana, was imported in the 5th century from China via Korea. Before then, Japanese was strictly a spoken language. On this Kakizome Day of calligraphy and quotations, the language is transformed to art... and the spirit and creative heart are boundless.

More CREATIVITY Quotations

No limits within.