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Event Album: KAKIZOME: 01/06/2018
Event Note

 It happened to be the very day with record cold temperature. We even considered it may have to be cancelled at some point if it gets too dangerously low. But surprisingly enough, everyone’s car started without any problem (Thanks to the automobile industry which technology definitely had improved…), and people seemed to have high energy for the New Year. So, our show had started as planned, for the First Writing of the Year - “Kakizome”!
This year, more new faces were seen among the participants than the last year. Some Chinese people came and enjoyed sharing their knowledge of the Kanji characters most of which are similar to Japanese. After all, theirs were the original, and it is indeed quite fascinating to think how the language was carried on across ocean from China to Japan and made its form to be adapted by Japanese more than a thousand years ago. (Then, I just wonder what kind of communication the ancient and true original Japanese used before they had imported Chinese…?)
Every year, we learn something new at Kakizome from participants who ask for translation of English vocabulary that they want to write in Japanese – mostly in Kanji form. So today, we have learned Humility is “Kenson” in Japanese while we know another vocabulary, Humbleness, has the same translation. A TV channel newsman came to film our event and asked for explanation about a kind of traditional ritual where people would burn Kakizome-written paper. I knew he was asking about “Tondo-matsuri”, the campfire festival a small community where I grew up had held on January 15th when we burned all the New Year’s day decorations and Kakizome paper to get rid of evil and bring a good luck. I wanted to make sure the definition of Tondo-matsui was correct so asked 2 other volunteers who usually know a lot about Japanese culture and history. It turned out to be that they had never heard of it. That means, as we were reminded, it doesn’t matter how small Japan is, the “Japanese culture” we think as our standard knowledge and believe they are common in everywhere in Japan are not always true. They are all different between regions, and some case may not even be known by the other. Nevertheless, the Kakizome is indeed one of the commonly known Japanese traditions for cerebrating a New Year.
Our renewed appreciation to Elinor Levy, Ph.D. the director and Arts Mid-Hudson for their continuous support on our culture programs and having made this Kakizome day our mutual special event. And of course, to our volunteer staff, some of who drove from quite distance in this cold weather to accomplish today’s task. Especially to Onuma-san, who had tied our logo flag outside door “without gloves, without crying”! That guts and determination are something to be highly respected.
Best wishes to all for the New Year!
Midori Shinye
Chair and Kakizome project leader
 たまたま今日は正しく極地的な寒さで、あまり気温が異常に下がった場合はもしかしたらイベントをキャンセルしないといけないかもと安危した程でしたが、意外にも皆さんの車は問題なくエンジンが掛かった様で(テクノロジーを上達して下さった車業界に感謝です)、その上に新年を迎えて人々のエネルギーが向上している様なので、予定通り「書初め」の幕開けとなりました。 今年は昨年度よりもっと新しい参加者の顔が見られました。中国人の参加者の方々は彼らの漢字を書初めに書いて見せてくれました。元々漢字は中国から来たものですから殆どの字が日本語と似ています。千年以上も昔に海を渡って言葉が中国から日本に伝わってきた後日本人に合った独特の漢字に変化していったその段階を想像するだけでも大変感動します。(さてそうなると、中国語が伝わる以前の純粋な日本人はいったいどの言葉を使ってお互い伝達をしていたのかが気になるところです…) 毎年参加者から各自書きたい英語の言葉を漢字に訳してほしいとリクエストされる度に新たに勉強させられます。今回はHumilityという単語がHumblenessと同じく「謙遜」の意味だということを学びました。それからテレビ局の人が撮影に来て、習字で書いた紙を焼く儀式のことを説明してほしいと言われました。私は子供の頃に地域の人達が集まって正月の飾りつけとか書初めで書いた紙を焼いて厄を払って運を招く「とんど祭り」のことを聞いているのだとすぐに分かりましたが、その解釈が間違っていないか念の為にいつも日本の文化・歴史に詳しい二人のボランティアに確認した所何とその祭りのことは全く知らないとか…。と言うことは、今回改めて認識させられましたが、どんなに日本が小さいとは言え私達が一般的に知られていて日本のどこにでもあると思いこんでいるいわゆる「日本文化」と呼んでいるものは必ずしもどこも同じではなく、中には他の地域では全く知られていない文化もあるということです。と言っても、少なくとも「書初め」は正しく日本で一般的に知られている新年を祝う行事のひとつではあります。 改めて、ディレクターのエリノア・レビー博士とArts Mid-HudsonにMHJCAのカルチャープログラムを引き続き支援して下さるだけでなく、この「書初め」を共通の特別行事として頂いたことに大変感謝致します。それから、もちろん我が会のボランティアの方々、中にはこの零下の中を遠い所から来て今日の仕事を完了して頂いた方もいて、本当にご苦労様でした。特に、手袋もしないで泣き言も云わず外でMHJCAの旗を取り付けて頂いた大沼さんのその根性と強い意志には頭が下がります。 ぜひ今年が皆さんにとってより良い年になります様に! 新江 緑 会長兼書初めプロジェクトリーダー 
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