Brush hour in Tokyo

It was brush hour at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo's Chiyoda ward yesterday morning as nearly 5,000 contestants competed in an annual calligraphy contest.

The contest, traditionally held to mark the beginning of the new year, requires participants to write phrases or poems of increasing complexity with a traditional horse hair brush and black ink - all within a strict allotted time of 24 minutes, reported Reuters.

Those taking part, aged from three to 93, were judged on the beauty of their strokes and the expression of their writing, which was mainly in the form of wishes and resolutions.

The winners will be announced at a separate ceremony on Feb 26.

Calligraphy is a highly regarded art in Japan.

This type of calligraphy, that is meant to be written at the beginning of a year, is called kakizome. It dates back to the imperial court period. According to tradition, these completed pieces of calligraphy would be burnt and it is believed that if the flame flares high, the writer's calligraphy will improve.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2017, with the headline 'Brush hour in Tokyo'. Print Edition | Subscribe