A little girl is writing during a calligraphy contest in Tokyo January 5, 2007.
New Year's resolutions are notoriously hard to keep but thousands of Japanese gathered in central Tokyo on Friday to capture their hopes in flowing ink strokes.
The first time any activity is performed in the new year is believed to be especially auspicious in Japan, and the year's first calligraphy -- "kakizome" -- is thought to be most appropriate for New Year's resolutions.
Calligraphy is a widely practiced and revered art in Japan, where the act of writing out Chinese characters is believed to sharpen the mind and improve concentration.
With swift strokes of a thick horse-hair brush, the calligraphers covered long sheets of paper with the characters and phrases that best described their resolution, often with considerable poetic licence.
"I want to study harder and become more intelligent this year," said eight-year-old Tomoyuki Hirayama, whose vows were represented by the phrase "Clear blue skies."
Others used the words "to be courageous." "I wished for peace," said 12-year-old Yuki Naito, whose paper read "peaceful country."
Not all 3,500 participants were able to achieve the sought-after state of concentration believed best for calligraphy as they competed for the best brushwork.
"My hand was shaking, I was so nervous," said Kyoko Ishibashi, a 68-year-old school teacher.