Write your way to a great New Year, Japanese style

(Kanko)

(Kanko)

The ancient Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings, who gazes simultaneously backward and forward. We Westerners honor him, consciously or not, by peering into the past to make Ten Best lists and into the future to make prognostications for the year to come. We also use this hinge point in the Gregorian calendar as an excuse to motivate ourselves to let go of bad habits and form healthier ones by making New Year’s resolutions.

People in the Far East take a somewhat different approach – not surprisingly, more meditational. The Japanese practice a form of ritualized calligraphy called kakizome or “first writing.” Originally a tradition of writing original poems that express one’s hopes and aspirations for the coming year, kakizome eventually evolved into a practice of choosing an auspicious Chinese characters called a kanji and scribing it over and over. It’s a bit like closing your eyes and visualizing something specific that you want to manifest – like world peace or a job promotion – each time you do yoga breathing.

Like to give kakizome a try, and court better luck for 2015? Calligraphy instruction and materials and guidance in choosing your kanji will be provided for free on Saturday, January 3 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. by volunteers from the Arts Mid-Hudson Folk Arts Program and the Mid-Hudson Japanese Community Association. As a bonus, the workshop will give you a chance to check out Arts Mid-Hudson’s new headquarters at 696 Dutchess Turnpike (Route 44) in Poughkeepsie.

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Kakizome Workshop 2015, Saturday, January 3, 2-3:30 p.m., free, Arts Mid-Hudson, 696 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie; (845) 454-3222, www.artsmidhudson.org

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