Japanese calligraphy (書初め/Kakizome)

A Happy New Year 2020 ! Thank you for supporting our small family business.

Family with 2020 Happy Holidays Cake

This is our first blog for 2020, it is about Kakizome!

Kakizome is an event where we write the first calligraphy of the year in Japan.

It is a tradition to write down new year's resolutions.

When is Kakizome event?

The Kakizome event takes place on January 2 of the new year and not January 1. The reason is because January 2 is the day people go back to work in traditional Japan.The holiday, Oshou gatsu that lasts from from January 1 to 3 is for general people or workers. Business men start their job on January 2.

Maybe it is superstition but some people believe that you can master a skill such as Sadou (tea ceremony) if you start the training on this date (January 2).

For store owners, they sell their products and start shipping them out.We think the beginning is so important. If everything works out smoothly with a good start, it will be a good year.

Nowadays, the day (January 2) is big sales days. It is similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Items are sold in "Lucky bags"in department stores. The lucky bag includes product with a higher value than the price of the bag.

For Example:

3,000 yen ($30) lucky bag - $50 value

5,000 yen ($50) lucky bag - $100 value

10,000 yen($100) lucky bag - $200 value

20,000 yen($200) lucky bag - $300 value

The price of the lucky bag and the value of the item varies from store to store.

Each store has their own strategy to sell.

People can check what kind of items are inside before buying the lucky bag so they will not be disappointed.

Anyway, January 2nd has special meaning for the Japanese people.


When we write the first calligraphy of the year, we sit by facing an auspicious direction.

The origin of Kakizome is from the Heian period (about 800 years ago). It started at the emperor’s palace as "lucky event for starting to write in the year"

It was an event to create poetry and Waka (traditional Japanese short songs). People gather natural water on January 1 and they rub the water with charcoal for ink.

They also use special brush for calligraphy.


Why do Japanese people participate in the Kakizome


The reason is we want to improve

our writing skills for Kanji characters.

(We want to write beautiful Kanji characters)

We write Kanji character by Japanese

calligraphy on New Year’s Day

and we bring it to Shintou shrine.

We pray to god as our writing

skill will be better.

The basic writing is good and lucky (happy) words.

For example (Kotobuki: "寿" - this means marriage.)


What do we write?

In Kakizome, we write our new year’s resolution or a Chinese character that represents good and happy meaning such as “hope” and “dreams come true.”


What do we do after we wrote it?

We burn it later at special place.

After Kakizome, we will burn the paper with the first calligraphy of the year in a Dondo-yaki event with the hope of improving our calligraphy skills.

Dondo-Yaki or Sagicho is a fire festival usually held on January 11th marking the end of New Year's celebrations. People (usually children) gather New Year's ornaments of the neighborhood and burn them in a big bonfire. Spirits of the new year are supposed to go home with the smoke of this fire.

Also, if the flames rise high when Kakizome paper is thrown into the fire, they say his or her calligraphy skill will improve.


A new event started in 1985.

It is called "This year's Kanji character"

The event takes place at Kyoto’s Kiyomizu temple. The activity of the event is to represent the year in one Kanji character.

The Kyoto's Kiyomizu temple priest write the Kanji character by Japanese


Here are some examples:

 2019 - " 令 " 

      It came from 'Rei-wa(令和) period" of last year.

2017 - " 北 " 

         It means North.

North Korea tries to attack Japan by missiles many times and the leader of North

Korea tried to test nuclear bomb. It causes a great amount of fear in the Japanese

people. We hope for peace, not war.

2016 - " 金 "

         It means gold. It represents several people.

President Trump who won the election. He is a rich president with lot of money

and gold is a metaphor for his wealth.


        Ichiro hit 3,000 in major league baseball.

         It is gold value.

         Many Japanese people received gold metals at the Olympics.

2011 - "絆"

         It means bonds (friendship).

         Japan suffered serious big damage

         by Tsunami attack.

         Japanese people, Americans and people from many other countries offer their

help to Japan.

2001 - " 戦 "

          It means fighting and defeating terrorism. Several terrorist attacks occurred in


1985 - " 震 "

          It means shaking.

          It is about big earthquakes that happened at Hanshin & Awaji area.

          (It is Kobe and near Osaka area in Japan)

Family with Special Matcha Baum Kuchen 2020

Thank you very much for reading and taking your precious time with us.

See you again on our next blog.

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