ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Japanese Calligraphy: Art In Writing

Updated on March 6, 2012

Japanese Calligraphy: Family

Family (14th September) By Haiku Girl
Family (14th September) By Haiku Girl

Japanese Calligraphy … the art of Writing

Japanese Calligraphy, also known as Shodu (which means “the way of writing”) didn’t begin in Japan. Its origins can be traced back to ancient China where scholars and learned people of the time used ideograms (graphic symbols) to write and to communicate.

Over hundreds of years, Chinese ideograms eventually reached Japan (by way of Korea) in the 6th century. Through the process of evolution, the Chinese ideogram method of communicating gradually changed and after another 300 years had passed (it was now in the 9th century) this “language” of graphic symbols morphed into a new form of communication called kana, a phonetic script.

Evolution continued to occur to this early language and, ultimately over time, Japanese Calligraphy was born. It exists now as an art form. Among the Japanese, those whose Calligraphy skills rank high are considered artists. And there is a good reason for that.

Japanese Calligraphy: How to Write with a Brush

Not Just A Language

Japanese Calligraphy is light years beyond what most people consider written language. In fact, the Japanese think of Calligraphy “as art defined by movement and rhythm.” Few languages anywhere on earth are thought of in this manner. Yet, Japanese Calligraphy deserves that lofty designation because it is anything but ordinary, run-of-the-mill script.

In Japan today, it is regarded as the language of literature and philosophy … as script brought to the point of perfection – a visual art that is forever resonating with words. Skilled practitioners know that each stroke on the page is rich with meaning … each character speaks volumes. Truly, this is language raised to a very high level.

And yet, despite its splendor, the tools of the trade for Japanese Calligraphers are quite simple – paper (frequently it is rice paper) … ink … and bamboo brush. That’s it … except, of course, for the incredible skill that each of these remarkable artisans possess.

Japanese Calligraphy Practice

Japanese Calligraphy By Shugatastic
Japanese Calligraphy By Shugatastic

The Three Styles of Japanese Calligraphy

Most Calligraphers employ one of the three primary writing styles that are common in Japan today. There is kaisho … a “square style” that is reminiscent of Korean writing. Gyosho is a semi-cursive writing technique that appears more fluid and attractive when seen on a page. The most impressive style is sosho. This requires the most skill because it is fully cursive. As a result, it is employed by only the best Calligraphers.

Interestingly, the most beautifully-prepared pages of Japanese Calligraphy often end up framed and placed on a wall … as if they were works of fine art. Japanese Calligraphers are highly respected for their art … their steady hands … and their unique skills. They are artists in every sense of the word, but their art does not extend beyond the written word.

Japanese Calligraphy

The Many Uses For Calligraphy

Remember: Calligraphy is an art form in Japan. While it is true that Calligraphy can be found in most cultures (including American culture) it doesn’t receive the respect and acclaim given to Japanese Calligraphers. In the “Land of the Rising Sun” a skilled Calligrapher is perceived to be a master artist. And he is esteemed – by his peers and by the average man and woman, as well.

Japanese Calligraphy can often be found on walls – in private homes and elsewhere – because it is thought to be fine art. Calligraphers are hired to perform their mastery at weddings, anniversaries and other important formal celebrations.

The Japanese covet Calligraphy and many save works that include Calligraphy as if those works are assets that will appreciate over time. And, frankly, because they are recognized as fine art, the chances are good – perhaps very good – that their value will increase.

And even if the value of a well-done piece containing Calligraphy remains static, the piece you own but may be unable to sell is likely to give you much pleasure and satisfaction. Calligraphy matters in most western nations, but it matters the most in Japan.

Japanese Calligraphy Inkstone and Brushes

Inkstone and Brush By Kanko*
Inkstone and Brush By Kanko*

A Relaxing Craft

This magnificent art form can be highly relaxing, and remember: it is also a form of communication. Use it and enjoy it as it may not endure forever. And if you are truly adventurous, practice this fine art. See if, with instruction and patience, you, too, can become a skilled Calligrapher.

It is an excellent hobby (like painting) and once you become motivated and show progress the chances are good that you will find it difficult to stop. So … go for it. Buy a book on Calligraphy … enroll in and attend a class … learn this master skill … and, most of all, enjoy it.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)