or shodo, which means way of writing, dates back to the origins of
Chinese civilization and the creation of the Chinese writing system
thousands of years ago. Importing the Chinese writing system (kanji)
into Japan started the history of Japanese calligraphy.
problems with linguistics and grammar rose from using kanji, creating a
writing system that fit the Japanese language became a necessity. It
led to the creation of a unique calligraphy style such as Kana.
Japanese Calligraphy Tools
calligraphers use a variety of tools in creating their works of art.
These are the specialized tools you need to equip yourself with if you
want to start learning the art of Japanese calligraphy.
– one of the four treasures of calligraphy, Fude is the calligrapher’s
most important tool. The subtle manipulation of the fude or the brush is
what distinguishes a master from a beginner. The two types of brush
used by Japanese calligraphers are the hosofude (slender) and the
– Also considered as one of the four treasures of calligraphy, sumi is
the ink used in Japanese calligraphy. What sets this ink apart from the
others is, it is made from charcoal.
– Another member of the four treasures is the suzuri inkstone. It is
where the calligrapher rubs the sumi ink block to create the ink used in
– The literal meaning of the term is “spread underneath”. It is a soft
mat that is placed under the paper to protect the writing surface from
getting soaked with ink. Shitajaki also provides a soft surface for
writing. Japanese calligraphy beginners use a shitajaki with grid
patters to help them create well-proportioned characters.
– The last of the four treasures, hanshi is a special paper used by
calligraphers. Washi, an indigenous Japanese paper popular for its
quality and durability, is the one often used by calligraphers.
– This is used to weigh down the paper when doing calligraphy. The
bunchin is usually made of metal and placed on top of the hanshi.
Basic writing styles
calligraphy has three basic writing styles. Kaisho or correct writing
is the first form that calligraphy students study. It is the style that
each stroke is made in a clear way, creating a character that is similar
to the printed version. Gyousho or traveling writing is Japanese
calligraphy in semi-cursive style. This type of writing style is usually
used when taking down notes. The third basic writing style in Japanese
calligraphy is the Sousho or grass writing. This refers to the flowing
cursive style of writing. In sousho, form is more regarded than
readability because most of the time, the calligrapher doesn’t allow the
fude to leave the paper resulting to swooping shapes.
calligraphy is a very beautiful but complicated art. The trained eye
will know the difference between good and bad calligraphy. There are
some guidelines to discern which is good and which is bad, like the
natural balance of characters, the delicate curved lines, strong
straight lines, or the amount of ink on the brush and its consistency.
However, like any other art, distinguishing the difference is hard to