The Way of Writing, Getting into Japanese Calligraphy

I started shodo 書道 literally, the ‘way of writing’ as a hobby even though I don’t understand the Japanese language. In a way, I started calligraphy so I will be able to understand the language. Pretty practical, don’t you think?

Just to give an idea on my Japanese language learning progress, I can safely say that I can recognize about 1000+ kanji with their English meaning but I’m still learning onyomi and kunyomi readings of each. I may or may have added a few more kanji, but these 1000+ I already know the stroke order so I can safely write them using brush.

A very rough sumi-e (ink painting)
A very rough sumi-e (ink painting)

I have been practicing writing using an ordinary pen (ball pen or pencil) and paper when I bought my first Japanese calligraphy set. It just so happen that when I was walking on the streets of Nara, just outside Nara Park, I happen to pass by a calligraphy shop. (The shop is called Susukawa Bunrido at Sanjo-dori). My friend who was into calligraphy (Roman letters), wanted to see their collection of brush pens, so we went inside. Little did I know that I will not leave that store empty handed. They had on sale a Japanese calligraphy set for 3000 yen. It’s a plastic box that contains, 2 fude brushes, sumi ink (ink stick), suzuri, bunshin, and a container for water. I only found out the names and purpose of these things later on. The shop attendant told me that I also need a shitajiki (soft felt mat) and of course, hanshi (thin calligraphy paper). So I also bought them, for another 1000 yen. I don’t know what was on my mind but when I laid my hands on these things, I just knew I have to have them.

3000 yen calligraphy set with folded shitajiki
3000 yen calligraphy set with folded shitajiki

in-calligraphy set Trying it Out

The first thing that I did when I got back to the Philippines is try my hand at using the calligraphy set. Once I knew what each of the things inside the box does, I proceeded in using them. Of the two fude brushes included in the box, I was surprised that I had a better grip with the bigger one. I can even control it and use with smaller strokes. This brush is sold on its own at 840 yen so I guess it is of better quality.

Using the bigger brush, I was surprised I was able to create small characters
Trying out different styles; using the bigger brush, I was surprised I was able to create small characters
The 2 brushes included in the set
The 2 brushes included in the set

The most challenging thing for me now is to find myself a teacher. Of course I can always follow stroke order from animations available in various apps or YouTube videos but the comment and advise from a calligraphy teacher is the only way of knowing that I’m getting this right. I don’t even know if there is such a person in the Philippines. So I guess I have to enroll in a calligraphy class when I get back to Kyoto or Tokyo.

Calligraphy Brushes in Tokyu Hands
After Nara, I’ve been on the look out for Calligraphy tools, these are from Tokyu Hands in Sapporo
Ink Stick & Suzuri
The sumi (ink stick) & Suzuri

To close, what I really enjoyed most about this hobby is the relaxation it brings me. Preparing the ink from the ink stick, while patiently grinding on the suzuri takes time and I find myself entering a state of calmness and deep thought. It has also been a great way to familiarize myself with Kanji. When I get confident with my work, I’ll post some of them here. In the meantime, I will continue to practice and maybe soon I can go back to Japan and sit in an actual calligraphy class.  がんばろうシーラ!




One thought on “The Way of Writing, Getting into Japanese Calligraphy”

  1. Dear Miss, can you let me know the calligrahy shop detail address and i have a trip to Nara then i want to buy some Japan calligrahy brush formy usage
    my emai address is and i locate at Hong kong
    My name is kent lee

    Thanks a lot

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