Japanese Calligraphy

For my project I am planning to use my knowledge of the Japanese language to write the label for the Sake bottle label and for the box that I am creating. looking at calligraphy it is taught to Japanese children after they have learnt how to write the characters easily. Calligraphy is considered an art-form, following the writing sequence for each character as well as how thick and thin parts of the characters have to be.



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 been Wang Xizhi, a Chinese calligrapher in the 4th century, but after the invention of Hiragana and Katakana, the Japanese unique syllabaries, the distinctive Japanese writing system developed and calligrapher produced styles intrinsic to Japan.

Traditionally these tools are:

  • An inkstick –  – Sumi –  The older the inkstick is, the better it is. The best inksticks are between 50 and 100 years old.
  • Mulberry paper – 和紙 – washi – Traditional calligraphy paper
  • An inkstone –  – suzuri – to grind the inkstick against, mixed with water.
  • A paper weight – 文鎮 – bunchin – to hold the paper in place
  • A cloth – 下敷き – shitajiki – to place under the paper (often newsprint is used as well) to prevent ink from bleeding through.
  • A brush –  – fudé –

During preparation, water is poured into the inkstone and the inkstick is ground against it, mixing the water with the dried ink to liquefy it. As this is a time-consuming process, modern-day calligraphy provides liquid ink in a bottle called Bokuju – 墨汁 – and is frequently used by beginners. More advanced students are encouraged to grind their own ink.

The brushes come in various shapes and sizes, and are usually made using animal hair for the bristles. Typical animal hair may come from goats, sheep, horse-hair, etc. The handle may be made from wood, bamboo, plastic or other materials.


After watching this video I found that there was another video reviewing an app for iPad and iPhone that was called Zen Brush which can be used to do calligraphy without using actual materials, so I bought it and I will be experimenting with that because I can import the characters that I create into Illustrator, Photoshop or Indesign if needed which is a really good feature and saves time because it could mean scanning in any characters that I create which would be time consuming.








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