The secret to Japanese people's beautiful handwriting is shodo

Have you ever wondered why Japanese people have such neat handwriting? Is it because everyone is diligent, or because they have skilled hands...? Actually, it's because in Japanese elementary schools, they have classes specifically for handwriting practice.


Japanese Culture

What is shodo?

Japanese calligraphy (書道 shodō?) is a form of calligraphy, or artistic writing, of the Japanese language. For a long time, the most esteemed calligrapher in Japan had beenWang Xizhi, a Chinese calligrapher in the 4th century, but after the invention of Hiragana and Katakana, the Japanese unique syllabaries, the distinctive Japanese writing systemdeveloped and calligraphers produced styles intrinsic to Japan.


Shodo Tools

Ángel Medinilla/Flickr

Shodo primarily uses just a brush and ink.

Shodo originated in China.
The reason the practice took hold was because it wasn't just about writing pretty characters, but it was also practice to discipline your soul.

Shodo classes are held in elementary school

Shodo is a required subject in elementary school. All the children have their own shodo sets, and using their brushes and ink they practice writing beautifully in school.

A classroom decorated with sheets from shodo class.

hello nelly/Flickr

It's typical for elementary school classrooms to post up the pages written during shodo class.


Five tools that are necessary to begin shodo

If you want to start practicing shodo, here are the five tools you definitely need.

1. Writing brush

Jennifer Pack/Flickr

There are brushes made from horsehair or from synthetic fibers and the prices vary depending on the material used. The size of the brushes change too depending on the size of the characters you want to write.

2. Ink

The ink used for shodo is called "sumi". Using an inkstone, the ink is dissolved in water before it's ready to be used.

3. Inkstone

This is the inkstone for ink. Water is poured into the concave part at the end, and the ink is ground into it to make it a liquid.

4. Paper

This paper is slightly see-through and made specifically for this. Because the ink bleeds through the paper, you can't use both sides.

5. A calm heart


It's important that when you face the desk holding your brush, that you carefully write the character with a calm, composed heart. Aim for a calm, composed heart!

How about it? After this, when you want to write carefully, take the time to meditate and you might have a surprising result.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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