The beginning of the year is a perfect time to decide what we want to accomplish for that year. Right? Spend more time with your family? Learn a foreign language? Travel more? Advance in your career? Run a marathon?

Whatever it may be, there is proven evidence that if you write down your resolution on a piece of paper you’re more likely to achieve that goal. I guess Japanese people have known this phenomenon for a long time since they have a special custom of writing their New Year’s resolution with a calligraphy brush on the 2nd of January (Solar calendar). This tradition is known as Kakizome: the first writing of a year.

In the distant past, Kakizome used to be practiced only among imperial household members. But thanks to temple schools and literary education, this tradition became popular among common people. Nowadays, Kakizome is a favored New Year activity among young and old Japanese people. 

There is a phrase often used in the world of Japanese calligraphy: Sho Ha Hito Nari (calligraphy reveals personality). This notion is quite common among Japanese people and contributes to a strong emphasis on having beautiful handwriting.

Calligraphy is a mandatory subject in elementary school, where Japanese kids learn not only how to write letters beautifully, but also the correct writing posture and ways to hold and maintain brushes properly. Quite often, teachers assign kids to do Kakizome over the New Year holiday.

Here are some popular auspicious words and kakizome phrases you can try!






Kakizome was and still is, a special ritual where people clear their minds and focus on expressing their determination using beautiful lettering. To prepare for Kakizome, one has to get fresh water, pour it into a square basin, and grind charcoal gently until its fresh scent wafts into the air. After preparation, he or she dips the tip of the calligraphy brush into a pool of new ink and then makes a steady stroke. The writer consciously considers every line, dot, stroke and stop, and the ritual becomes a form of meditation.


Even if you don’t own a calligraphy brush? Don’t worry! That’s because our affordable calligraphy pens are available at any stationary store in Japan. Truly, anyone can join along and set themselves up for success by participating in kakizome! 

When you finish your Kakizome, hang it on the wall. The bold strokes on a piece of pristine white paper might give you the determination and will to accomplish your New Year’s resolution. Or perhaps it’s just a beautiful piece of art to look at. Either way, it is a great piece of Japanese culture to keep with you.

A New Year marks a new beginning. I hope it brings you lots of joy and success.

If you are interested in Japanese tradition and culture or you want to learn Japanese, follow TODAI Japanese and download the application TODAI Japanese below to learn more Japanese easily.
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