Today I took a trial Japanese calligraphy class at my Japanese school.  Japanese calligraphy, or ‘shodo‘ (書道) is not just about writing kanji.  It’s kind of like art.

I have only done Japanese calligraphy once before, during my first visit to Japan in 2006.  Here is the kanji I wrote back then – it means ‘dream’:


I remember thinking that class was tough, and not feeling very pleased with my awkward, chunky kanji.  It had no feeling and no life.  But in those days I couldn’t even write katakana and hiragana, so I think I was expecting a bit too much of myself.

Today’s class was conducted in Japanese, which was something I really liked.  I understood most of what the teacher said, even if I couldn’t respond.  She introduced the names of the tools in simple Japanese: “これ は ~です”, although I’m afraid I don’t remember the specific names now.  At one point she told us that the kanji we write shouldn’t be the same as the one we are copying (that she drew), it should have our own feelings and artistic style in it.  She said we shouldn’t think about it, we should feel it. (I was just pleased that I understood this in Japanese!!)

The class was only one hour long, but for 1000 Yen and no material fees I thought that was really good.  So good, in fact, that I asked if there could be any more classes and we have arranged to have another one next week, and probably more in the future!  So I will be getting my own calligraphy set, too!  A friend once told me that learning calligraphy is a really good way to remember kanji, and I can easily believe that’s true.

I found today’s class very relaxing, and it had a certain ‘zen-like’ quality about it which just made me feel very relaxed and at peace.  And, compared to my previous efforts, I was very pleased with the results!  Below are photos of the best kanji I produced.  In both photos, the one on the left is the one my teacher drew, and the one on the right is mine.

This one is ‘hana’ which means ‘flower’.

This is ‘ai’ which means ‘love’.

This weekend I spent almost all of the time studying Japanese in one way or another!  I’m kind of exhausted now, but it was excellent and I hope to have more weekends like this in the future!  I feel like I have learnt so much recently, and hopefully this is all adding up to help me with the dreaded JLPT in December! がんばります!:D

2 thoughts on “Calligraphy

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