Calligraphy is one of the most famous Japanese traditional arts which use writing brush and ink to write. It came over to Japan alongside with Kanji from China. Although Japanese calligraphy originally had a large influence from Chinese, it gradually developed to an unique art form of Japan with the birth of Japanese "Kana" characters.
History and Progression of Japanese Calligraphy
Calligraphy was imported into Japan from China around the 6th century. Around the same time Buddhism started to be imported into Japan, written and copied sutras had become popular among nobility. This is why (It was for this reason that) writing Chinese characters (Kanji) became one of the fundamental education for nobility during this time. However, after this the Japanese culture started to branch off into it's own unique form, the calligraphy also developed into Japanese own style. Around the 12th century, calligraphy was once again imported from China alongside with Zen Buddhism, so calligraphy in Japan separated into two different styles, Japanese Style and Chinese Style. Various styles of calligraphy from different times are still available to view at museums even today. This is how the calligraphy developed in Japanese history and weaved its way as one of the Japanese traditional art. It is even now ever evolving.
The Japanese Calligraphy Font
In Japanese calligraphy, there 5 main styles. Tensho (篆書)has the longest history, it is usually used on seals. Reisho (隷書) is the shorten version of Tensho. Sousho (草書) , which the characters looks like running, it was created for writing Reisho in a much faster way. Then Gyosho (行書) was born to make Sousho cleaner and easier to read. The final one was Kaisho(楷書), it was made to be the tidiest and the most formal one of all the calligraphic styles. Different from Sousho and Gyosho, Kaisho is typically used for contracts and important documents to avoid misreading.
Japanese Calligraphy Performances
In Japanese Calligraphy, it is not only can be written on a desk, but it can be also done in a larger scale, sometimes there are even calligraphers write with a broom on a large piece of paper on floor accompanying with music and dancing. This kind of "calligraphy performance " was first shown in the year 2008, by a calligraphy club of high school in Ehime. This event received large praise, and ever since a huge event which completes for the best high-school performance calligraphy group called the Shodō Performance Kōshien (書道パフォーマンス甲子園) held every year. Furthermore, now, not only high-school students but also professional calligraphers and other circles take part in these activities, creating yet another evolution for calligraphy in Japan.
Recommended Spots to Experience Japanese Calligraphy
As of right now, the spots at which you can experience Japanese calligraphy are expanding, mostly in Tokyo and Kyoto. There are courses for foreign tourists, they will expertly teach you how to do calligraphy and you can take home with your creation as a souvenir of your journey. You may also decorate your home with this priceless artwork created by yourself.