1/7/17 “Kakizome”, the First Calligraphy Writing of the Year, at Arts
Mid-Hudson (public event)
It is very spiritual and respectful culture, and it’s also lots of fun, to
write new Resolution of the year on a long Washi paper with a large brush as
big as you want - to lift up the energy and ready to challenge the New Year.
That was the traditional Kakizome we remember. So, we should have prepared
for the participants’ spirits carrying their own Resolution to write.
However, translating English version into proper Japanese Kanji is not so
easy “challenge” as some vocabularies could be unexpected or almost
impossible to translate. Besides, especially now that anyone could use
iPhone to check if we made a mistake, we got to be very careful to come up
with correct spelling… So, to avoid embarrassment, as we learned from our
previous experience, I advised my staff not to encourage participants to
think of any English Resolution. It didn’t work, of course, since some were
repeated customers they knew exact what they wanted to write -
“Opportunity”, “Focus”, etc etc.
Talking about “translation”, I even made a mistake when I mentioned about
Chinese readings for the Year of the Rooster in my New Years Greetings -
between Premonition and Prediction translated from Japanese “Yokoku”, as
they share the same Kanji while not exactly the same meaning in English.
Then I went to the Chinese Kakizome though they don’t call it nor practice
the same way but it seems more ritual form and signifying “Fortune”. I, of
course, noticed two characters among the couplets letters Dr. Guo wrote on
red paper with calligraphy ink were “Kin (gold)” and “Niwatori (chicken
however in this particular circumstance it is the Rooster)”. So I asked
them why the “Rooster”, not chicken in general or hen, but the male
chicken who doesn’t even produce eggs, never mind the Golden Eggs.
Unfortunately, no one disclosed their secret old legend, if any, which may
explain exact the reason why male chicken was chosen by Chinese ancestor,
who was as respected as God, except Alice who said in her opinion no female
was considered as equal/valuable as male at that time (very good argument
there). Then Dr. Guo told us the pronunciation of the two letters “Golden
Rooster” is similar to “Good Luck”. As my final conclusion even adopting
the Alice’s opinion, since the typical domestic chicken is all white, the
colorful male chicken the Rooster who indeed wear perfect gold feather
besides the ability to fly, is more likely qualified to become one of the
symbolic Zodiac animals, though there is no academic proof of my theory. So,
the Rooster it is. Although the idea of the Kakizome in Japanese way is
obviously different from the Chinese, we all welcome any positive words such
as Fortune, Good luck, Happiness and Success, thus they are the popular
characters written at the First Writing of the Year. By the way, Chinese
would hang a character of “Fuku (Good luck)” upside down hoping to bring
good luck in. As a Japanese I had to fight the strong natural urge to put it
back to the normal way to read, however, once heard that I’d dare want to
do anything against Chinese old prediction. I only wish I had asked how long
I’d have to keep it that way…
Thanks to Arts Mid-Hudson who sponsored our Kakizome again. I especially
thank to our volunteer members who never hesitate to challenge the Kanji vs.
English version of New Years Resolution. I see the very positive year we are
facing as we have started with very successful event.