Kakizome is the first

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Kakizome is the first calligraphy of the new year. It's traditionally done on January 2nd and the department stores and shops around Tokyo prepare for this day with enormous displays of writing tools for sale--brushes of many sizes, inkstones with different shades of black ink, traditional papers, scrolls, and decorative plaques.

Shodo (the art of calligraphy) artisans practice every day. The master calligrapher clears his mid, visualises the finished work, takes a deep breath, then begins drawing what he sees in his mind's eye. In China this summer, I watched men practicing with large brushes and water on the sidewalks at the Temple of Heaven. They moved slowly and gracefully like dancers.

Calligraphy isn't just for masters--over the winter holiday, many schoolchildren are assigned calligraphy homework. I wonder if they do it on January 2nd?

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