What is Japanese Calligraphy? 【Nihon Shodo】

月 民芸風 書道


What is Japanese Calligraphy?

Japanese calligraphy

Hi, nice to meet you!

My name is [Kirimojiya].

きりもじや Twitter @hanafuji2211/

Instagram @kirimojiya_syodo/


Former school teacher

Reached 2,500PV/month on google

What you can learn from this article.

You can see the difference between Japanese art calligraphy and educational calligraphy.

In Japan, artistic and educational calligraphy are considered together.
In reality, the concepts are different.

What is Educational Calligraphy?

school lettering

This stems from the Japanese school education system.

These are called 【習字】(syuji)or【書写】(syosya).

It was designed for elementary and junior high school students to learn letters.

It’s an item of schooling to learn stroke order and how to write.

I thought they were the same thing.


What is Art Calligraphy?

Japanese writing brush

Brush The artistic expression or act of writing with paper and brush is calligraphy.

The [Nitten] did not have a category for [calligraphy] in the Japanese post-World War II exhibitions in Japan.

At that time, I tried to create a field of [calligraphy] in the same way as painting and crafts in Japanese exhibitions.

The category “calligraphy” was created by adding “the way of practice” to “writing.

This was the beginning of [Japanese calligraphy].

Calligraphy is a way of life, an act, a discipline to express the beauty of letters.

Recognized as a jumble

In Japan, the word [shodo] is widely known to the general public, but the general public is not taught the concept, so most people do not understand it.

The categories of Japanese calligraphy are not distinguished even among Japanese.

The words “calligraphy,” “school education copying,” and “school education calligraphy” are often mixed up and recognized as such.

I thought if it was written in ink, it was calligraphy,…


Japanese signboard maker’s character

In the past, Japanese sign makers wrote in one shot with enamel, and there were many great sign works.

Those are rarely seen nowadays.

Repairing a character by repainting it over and over is not [calligraphy].

The basis of calligraphy is one-shot writing.

Calligraphers write thousands of sheets for a single exhibition.

One of the thousands of pieces I have written, I will select the one with the best balance to be exhibited.

Other Japanese Calligraphy

勘亭流 Kantei style of calligraphy、

江戸流Edo style、

歌舞伎 文字 Kabuki Characters



These are one-shot strokes, so they are [calligraphy].

When you are writing a character and you need to correct a slightly misshapen part, it is called “Hohitsu”【補筆】.

I think the degree of [supplemental writing] is fine.

But the act of just painting the whole thing, or drawing a line over the top of a line, is not [calligraphy].
This is not a good pattern.
I see that the [definition] is difficult.
Come to think of it, when I was little, my teacher taught me never to write twice.

What is the avant-garde calligraphy of Japanese calligraphy?


If avant-garde calligraphy is also drawn with a brush and is an act of [calligraphy], then it is [calligraphy].


Although avant-garde calligraphy is written with a brush, it can also be done on paper, acrylic, concrete, paint or other materials other than sumi ink, as is usual in Japanese calligraphy.

In some cases, it may not have been written with a brush.

Most of these works are abstract, like paintings, and most of them are not recognizable even to Japanese people.

If the act of expression is [Japanese calligraphy], then it is [calligraphy].

This is a very difficult field to define.



・【書】writing  Generally, calligraphy is expressed with paper, brush, and ink.

・【書道】Japanese Calligraphy The act of expressing with paper, brush, and ink A way of life.

・【習字】School Calligraphy Study of the writing system learned in elementary school

・【書写】School Calligraphy Study of the writing system learned in elementary school and in junior high school.


If you have time, please visit the calligraphy exhibition at Ueno.

Perhaps, but I think you will be struck by the unreadable works (even Japanese can hardly read them). (Even the Japanese can hardly read.)

It is a culture that has become [otaku-ized] in modern Japan.

I have described the recognition of Japanese calligraphy, but there is no need to be so formal about it.

Calligraphy] is fun.

If you practice with a purpose, you will definitely get better, so please don’t worry.

👇If you want to learn calligraphy, there are courses like this one.👇


It is a correspondence course in Japanese,

but if you use Google Translate you will be able to understand and improve quickly.


I’m relieved! Practice and get better.

Please enjoy my work.

If you don’t eat this when you come to Japan, you are missing out!

by Kirimojiya

Thank you for reading to the end.

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