- 01. The First Traces of Japanese Calligraphy
- 02. Aesthetics, Emotions, and the Discipline of Japanese Calligraphy
- 03. Does Practicing Japanese Calligraphy Make you Zen?
- 04. What Are the Differences Between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Calligraphy?
- 05. Here is What You Need for Calligraphy:
- 06. Where Can You Learn Calligraphy in the United States?
Learning the Japanese language is not just about reading and writing Japanese, it's much more than that...
During your Japanese calligraphy classes, in addition to learning the Japanese language, your tutor will teach you:
- respect for writing,
- and, obviously, Japanese language.
In Japan, calligraphy is considered Art, and direct access to Japanese culture--just like painting, sculpture, or dance.
It's true that at first learning Japanese can seem insurmountable with its signs and artistic techniques.
Don't worry, however, learning Japanese with a tutor will allow you to discover all the values and methods of this ancestral art...
You will sometimes hear the following:
- "Japanese pronunciation is difficult,"
- "To write Japanese is almost impossible,"
- "Japanese vocabulary is incomprehensible,"
- "Japanese politeness rules are very hard to follow..."
But Superprof is here to help you!
In addition to informing you through this article, our site will put you in touch with dozens of tutor profiles who can teach you Japanese calligraphy, and you will learn the beautiful language that is the language of Mishima...
The First Traces of Japanese Calligraphy
In Japanese, when you learn the language you learn more than just signs and letters:
- the gift of self through calligraphy,
- all the richness, depth, and complexity of Japanese culture.
Japanese calligraphy even has a name, Shodo, which means "the way of writing."
It has allowed the Japanese language to be exported around the world!
And to stay on this highly important topic, you should know that the tradition of calligraphy was invented and developed in China.
It was exported to Japan around 710.
Subsequently, the practice of Japanese calligraphy spread among the scholars of the imperial court.
From the 10th century, at the heart of the Heian era (794-1185), Japanese calligraphers began to invent Japanese styles based on Chinese calligraphy.
The calligrapher traces his or her work in one go, and does not make any changes to the calligraphy after.
It is the art of writing characters (kanji or kana) with a calligraphic brush and black ink.
Nowadays, calligraphy is still very popular in Japan, and people start it from an early age.
Japanese calligraphy and the Japanese language are also an art in their own right. The tools you must have during your lessons to practice the art of Shodô are called "the 4 treasures of the scholar."
In addition to the calligraphy instruments, one must also know the rules of character tracing as well as the position of the body.
Here is a little technical advice you can apply during your online Japanese classes. When you write, stand upright and press your left hand on the paper!
Since the characters (kanji and kana) are meant to be written with the right hand, you have to use the right hand to write them.
Even today, the Japanese write with a brush and ink during important family ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals.
Aesthetics, Emotions, and the Discipline of Japanese Calligraphy
Taught in all Japanese schools, but also during Japanese lessons, Shodô is more of a discipline than a simple artistic writing technique...
You should practice Japanese calligraphy and learn Japanese in order to acquire:
- a surrender of oneself,
- breath control,
- a fusion with nature.
This aesthetic practice is nourished by the Zen philosophy. The Zen influence is ubiquitous when learning Japanese. Self-control is a key idea in Japanese calligraphy and Japanese learning.
A Japanese tutor who teaches calligraphy will teach his student the values of high spirituality and deliverance from passion.
These are the values that are conveyed when you learn the Japanese language in your Japanese classes!
You should also discover Japanese grammar and syntax...
Does Practicing Japanese Calligraphy Make you Zen?
Those who know Japan know that the Land of the Rising Sun is master of the art of Zen ...
From meditation to martial arts, Japan is full of incredible customs and zen habits. For this reason it is quite possible to feel a certain feeling of well-being and completeness after your first lessons with your Japanese tutor.
Beginners must practice the gestures so that they become one with the chosen character.
A little more than "patience," the first virtue of calligraphy and the Japanese language is to learn how to "adapt one's speed."
Here is an advantage though. With practice you can visualize your mood on the white sheet during your calligraphic exercises in your Japanese language course.
If you have a lot of experience, you can deduct if there is tension in your painting of the stresses that live in you.
You can execute a nervous or false gesture, be too restrained or go too far, but what matters is to be aware of your state of mind.
Calligraphy reveals the hidden psychic energies of a person...
What Are the Differences Between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Calligraphy?
Many English speakers seem a bit lost when it comes to distinguishing Chinese, Korean, or Japanese calligraphy.
Which is quite normal, honestly. These 3 cultures are not exactly ones we know well...
But it's easier than you might think at first!
Without going into the technical considerations, there are some "tips and tricks" that your teacher can teach you during your Japanese lessons.
Let's take a basic sentence like "I like vanilla."
In Korean, this sentence translates as: 난 바닐라 좋아. The characters have few features, and consist mainly of squares and circles that are superimposed in a plethora of ways, giving the whole character a very "straight" looking aspect.
There is an exception here. The 5th character has a more complex aspect. What is the reason for this? It is because a large part of the lexicon outside the ordinary language is of Chinese origin.
Modern Korean and Chinese writings have adopted the Western reading method in most media - that is from left to right and from top to bottom - while modern Japanese is now read from right to left and from top to bottom.
In Japanese, this same sentence is written: 私 は バ ニ ラ の よ う. Here the characters are mainly composed of one to two lines with a very fluid appearance.
Here there is another exception: the 1st character. Many words are derived from the Chinese language. They are called kanjis, as opposed to kanas, the other characters mentioned above.
In Chinese, the sentence reads as 我 喜欢 香草. The sinograms are visibly more complex and have a very square appearance.
They represent ideas (so-called ideograms), unlike the Japanese and Korean characters that mainly transcribe sounds (called phonograms).
Your Japanese teacher will teach you other differences between these three calligraphies during your classes.
An important thing to understand and to learn is that this art is as complex as it is refined ...
Discover how the Japanese language has spread thanks to its culture ...
Shodo, or calligraphy, is the art of writing Chinese characters (known as kanji) as well as the two Japanese syllabaries (known as kana) using brushes, ink, and paper . Shodo was introduced for the first time in Japan from China in the 6th or 7th century.
Since writing was once the only way to keep records, Shodo was an essential skill.
Nowadays, people do not use Shodo for practical purposes, but it remains an important part of the Japanese culture.
People use Shodo on several ceremonial occasions, including writing New Year greeting cards. There are a number of places where you can try Japanese calligraphy.
It may sound complicated, but if you're trying to work with simple characters, you'll find it easier than you think.
Here is What You Need for Calligraphy:
- Shitajiki: Black and soft carpet. It provides a comfortable and soft surface.
- Bunchin: To put metal on paper while writing.
- Hanshi: Special and thin calligraphy paper.
- Fude: Brush. There is a bigger brush to write the main characters and a smaller one to write the name of the artist. The little brush, however, can also be used for characters.
- Suzuri: Heavy black container for ink.
- Sumi: Solid black material that must be rubbed into water in the suzuri to produce the black ink that is then used for writing. Of course, "instant ink" bottles are also available.
Where Can You Learn Calligraphy in the United States?
According to Wikipedia, "the number of Japanese students is steadily increasing in the US."
Taking Japanese lessons, learning the Japanese alphabet, its vocabulary, its grammar, and its different pronunciation are all enriching activities.
The schools are multiplying their Japanese courses, because the Japanese language is more and more sought after in the professional world.
For example, some cultural institutions offer Japanese calligraphy classes. Here is a small list...
Oda Japanese Calligraphy School
This school is located in the Northwest suburb of Chicago. The instructor is namedHekiun "Hiro" Oda（小田碧雲）
It has Japanese calligraphy classes on Wednesdays and Sundays. You MUST register beforehand!
Seikou Shodou Group
Located in New York City, this Japanese-American association aims to promote educational, cultural, and artistic exchange between its members.
Here is information we found on its website:
Seiko Shodo Group is dedicated to preserving and teaching the traditional Japanese arts of Shodou (calligraphy) and Suibokuga (water and ink paintings).
The group is the result of Sensei Kaneko Seikou's many years of experience practicing, as well as teaching these beautiful art forms. Each class is an opportunity to learn not only the exquisite techniques of brush writing and painting, but to gain a deeper insight and appreciation for Japanese language and culture.
Private and semi-private classes are offered for men, women, and children of all ages. Whether you are a beginner in search of a new hobby or an experienced calligrapher, we invite you to join us.
Classes are 40 USD an hour. But there is a one-hour free trial.
Another Chicago-based Calligraphy Course at the Japanese Culture Center
Here, the calligraphy classes are very complete. Indeed, the master will teach you:
- the history of Japanese writing of Chinese origin (also discover the history of the Japanese language)
- the evolution of Chinese writing,
- pictograms and ideograms,
- the different writing styles,
- postures and ways to hold the brush.
These courses are in downtown Chicago.
You will need an annual subscription.
What about contacting a tutor on the Superprof site? You will find many private tutor profiles with individuals teaching Japanese calligraphy.
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