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Kakizome: The First Writing of the Year!

Start your new year by learning something new! Check out Kakizome, a Japanese cultural program celebrating the traditional first calligraphy writing of the New Year, this Saturday, January 6th from 2 pm -4 pm. It’s all happening at Arts Mid-Hudson, located at 696 Dutchess Turnpike/ Route. 44 in Poughkeepsie, next to On Location Studios. It’s a joint presentation of the Arts Mid-Hudson Folk Arts Program and the Mid-Hudson Japanese Community Association.

Many cultures have celebratory traditions and rituals marking the transition into the New Year. In addition to parties with noise makers and festive foods in the USA, many people make resolutions for self-improvement. Japanese culture has several New Year's rituals, among them osechi, special foods served on New Year's day, and kakizome, the ritualized first calligraphy writing of the year.

Kakizome, or "first writing," takes place in the first few days of each new year. Traditionally, you’d use calligraphy to write poems to express hopes and aspirations for the coming year. The poems were then burned to seal the fate of the hope, like blowing out candles on your birthday cake after making a wish.

Kakizome is about positive wishes for the New Year. The tradition continues, but these days, practitioners write auspicious kanji (Chinese characters) instead of poems. Everyone picks an idea or sentiment to carry with them into the New Year. For example, if you hope for good health in 2018, you’d write a kanji for positive well-being; if you desire more patience, you’d practice the kanji for tolerance or acceptance. It’s a reflective practice, believing that practicing one kanji over and over helps the writer focus on the hoped-for theme.

Join in the fun for Kakizome 2018! Try auspicious kanji to be guided into your best New Year. Japanese volunteers will be on hand, offering guidance for deciding upon and writing your chosen kanji. Brushes, paper, and ink are all provided. This popular program is free and open to all.  I think you’ll find it’s a welcome contrast to December's hustle and bustle. Visitors are welcome to come and go any time between 2 and 4 pm! Arts Mid-Hudson is located at 696 Dutchess Turnpike or Route 44 in Poughkeepsie, just west of Adams Fairacre Farms.

The Mid-Hudson Japanese Community Association (MHJCA), a not-for-profit group, introduces Japanese culture to the community, fostering a communal sense among Japanese residents. It’s a bridge for cultural exchanges between Japanese and other Hudson Valley citizens. MHJCA’s informative programs and language classes are good for all ages. MHJCA often works with Arts Mid-Hudson to present interactive programs celebrating Japanese culture.

Arts Mid-Hudson is the leading nonprofit arts service agency serving the Mid-Hudson region. It provides vision and guidance to support thriving, diverse area arts. Since 1964 its initiatives have involved and promoted the arts, benefiting artists, groups, and communities.  

The Howland Cultural Center promotes the arts, encouraging people to include art in their lives. The historic Beacon building, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, is on the National Register of Historic Places. A wide variety of arts and cultural programs are presented there.

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