The character hatsu (初) combines an element meaning “clothing” on the left and one meaning “blade” on the right; together they represent the idea of cutting cloth with scissors. Cutting the fabric to size is the first step in making a piece of clothing, and this character has thus come to express the idea of beginning and of first things.
New Year’s is a major holiday in Japan, and the character hatsu appears in many contexts as the year begins: hatsu-hinode (first sunrise), hatsu-yume (first dream), hatsu-geiko (first practice), hatsu-uri (first sale). These are just a few examples of the terms where the prefix hatsu indicates the first occasion of the year. These firsts are considered special, marking a break in the everyday routine—a time to step into the year with renewed resolve.
This is the first issue of We Are Tomodachi for 2016. We hope that this magazine will continue to help readers learn more about Japan over the year to come.