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Thread: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

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    Default 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Hey guys, I thought I'd share some of what I know about the basics of 書道 (shodou) which is the Japanese art of calligraphy (literally - the way of writing). I'm not an expert or have had any true formal training, I've learnt what I know from studying from books and my friends in Japan. I hope it helps you to gain a grasp on things and feel free to ask questions (or if you want me to attempt [main word, attempt] a kanji).

    What you'll need for 書道:
    • 筆 - Fude - Brush
    • 書道用墨 - Shodou you sumi - Inkstink for Calligraphy
    • 墨汁 - Bokujuu - Indian Ink (if you don't want to use an inkstick to make your own ink)
    • 紙 - Kami - Paper. You can use any paper, but rice paper is traditional. I suggest only using that when you have become used to writing.
    • 硯 - Suzuri - Inkstone - Used to grind your inkstick with a bit of water to make ink. Also used to contain the ink when in use. Wash as soon as you are finished to prevent residue from sticking!
    • 文鎮 - Bunchin - Paperweight - used to keep your paper in place when writing (optional, but advised to prevent slipping)

    Here are my things that I quickly prepared (fude [mine is horse and goat hair], suzuri, shodou you sumi, kami) on a flat surface.



    All you have to do, it place a little bit of ink within your suzuri if you are using Indian Ink, or if you are making it yourself, add a tiny bit of water and hold your inkstick perpendicular to the suzuri and grind it gently in a circular motion until the water becomes slightly thicker and black (keep adding water/grinding until it is to a preferred consistency). Remember, patience is a virtue!

    When you are ready to begin, make sure there is no stiffness in your brush as this will make it more difficult for it to flow (which is vital to the form). Dip it into the ink until the tip is coated well like so.



    Once you have finished that, gently wipe the tip on the main part of the suzuri a few times to remove excess ink (but not too much as to get rid of a lot) like so.



    Now you are ready to start writing! Make sure to have a reference if you are doing something for the first time. I still do have a reference as it is helps, despite the fact I do know many kanji! Make sure to put more pressure on the start of your strokes than at the end of them, try to make it glide and flow as much as you can. Don't worry if it comes out a bit messy or not as you hoped, like when you first start writing Japanese characters, it takes time. Practice makes perfect.



    Once you get the hang of it, try looking at writing some kanji. I recommend going to jisho.org and looking up the kanji there as they provide stoke order for most kanji which will help you so much when attempting shodou. Here is an attempt I did at a kanji, though it didn't come out as well as I had hoped (as I said, I am still learning! ), can you guess which one it is? I've added some furigana to help for those who can't read kanjii well ^_^



    As I said earlier, make sure to wash your suzuri and fude as soon as you have finished. Try not to run your fude under running water as it might damage the hairs of the brush, you can channel the water using your hand or put it into clean still water. Make sure to clean off any water on your inkstick as well as water can cause it to crack and become useless for the future.

    If you have any comments, questions on how to write something, or just want me to write something, feel free to post replies and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    I remember in 5th grade I had to practice calligraphy.
    授業でてきとーに書いてみたら先生に字のきれいさを褒められたけど、
    書道がとんでもなく下手くそだったくせにww

    In my college I could have tried the calligraphy class, but rumors at the time had it that the calligraphy teacher was a total b!tch, so I didn't. If anyone were to hold a gun against my temple and demand that I produce a beautiful piece of calligraphy, then consider me dead XD

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by animeyay View Post
    I remember in 5th grade I had to practice calligraphy.
    授業でてきとーに書いてみたら先生に字のきれいさを褒められたけど、
    書道がとんでもなく下手くそだったくせにww

    In my college I could have tried the calligraphy class, but rumors at the time had it that the calligraphy teacher was a total b!tch, so I didn't. If anyone were to hold a gun against my temple and demand that I produce a beautiful piece of calligraphy, then consider me dead XD
    Haha, that remind me of my teachers back in school, always complaining about my portuguese calligraphy, and I think it only got worse by now
    As it has the same alphabet as English I can't imagine how would I suck on writting some japanase as their alphabets are completely different from the basic european one I know!
    I've tried a bit already with Hiragana and for me each character feels like drawing And I always sucked at drawing xD


    "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
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    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    Haha, that remind me of my teachers back in school, always complaining about my portuguese calligraphy, and I think it only got worse by now
    As it has the same alphabet as English I can't imagine how would I suck on writting some japanase as their alphabets are completely different from the basic european one I know!
    I've tried a bit already with Hiragana and for me each character feels like drawing And I always sucked at drawing xD
    By "Portuguese calligraphy", do you mean handwriting? Not the actual art of calligraphy of the Latin alphabet, I hope? XD We used to have handwriting threads in Miscellaneous every once in a while for members to present their handwriting, but I haven't seen one recently...

    Anyway, Japanese may feel like drawing to you because it's a completely foreign script. I'm sure if I suddenly have to copy something in Arabic or Hebrew, I will also be sketching/drawing it rather than writing it lol. Once Japanese starts to feel like writing instead of drawing, you will have mastered the basics of Japanese writing :P

    There's a Japanese writing thread here. You can feel free to put up your handwriting if you feel up to it~

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by animeyay View Post
    By "Portuguese calligraphy", do you mean handwriting? Not the actual art of calligraphy of the Latin alphabet, I hope? XD We used to have handwriting threads in Miscellaneous every once in a while for members to present their handwriting, but I haven't seen one recently...

    Anyway, Japanese may feel like drawing to you because it's a completely foreign script. I'm sure if I suddenly have to copy something in Arabic or Hebrew, I will also be sketching/drawing it rather than writing it lol. Once Japanese starts to feel like writing instead of drawing, you will have mastered the basics of Japanese writing :P

    There's a Japanese writing thread here. You can feel free to put up your handwriting if you feel up to it~
    Thanks a billion for showing me that thread I'll definetely post my handwriting there as soon as I get along with Hiragana and Katakana better.

    I'm currently trying to learn japanese for real so hope to improve significantly and to know the basics of the language in like 2 years, do you think this is possible?

    Haha, yeah, I understand it very well, same as for the russian alphabet. I believe it's only a matter of practise (I believe my love for this language will help me to have patience and take my time till I get good at it) and of memorizing each character to the correspondent sound.

    Btw, just out of curiosity and as a comparison model, for how long have you studied japanese and how would you rate your level of japanese?


    "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    Thanks a billion for showing me that thread I'll definetely post my handwriting there as soon as I get along with Hiragana and Katakana better.

    I'm currently trying to learn japanese for real so hope to improve significantly and to know the basics of the language in like 2 years, do you think this is possible?

    Haha, yeah, I understand it very well, same as for the russian alphabet. I believe it's only a matter of practise (I believe my love for this language will help me to have patience and take my time till I get good at it) and of memorizing each character to the correspondent sound.

    Btw, just out of curiosity and as a comparison model, for how long have you studied japanese and how would you rate your level of japanese?
    I've been self-teaching myself Japanese for about four years now on and off or so. In October I actually start formal education at university. In two years it is very possible to learn the entire language if you are motivated! If you want to go at an eased pace, then you could very easily learn the basics of Japanese within two years, that is including learning Hiragana, Katakana, several jouyou kanji (and some non jouyou) as well as the grammar and vocabulary needed for basic speech.

    Luckily Japanese is a very easy to pick up grammar wise, kanji can be a bit harder, but once you have found a way that suits you for learning them it will become much easier. One method I found easy when I started, was to learn the 100 needed for the JLPT L4 (Now JLPT N5) and then learn the more complex ones that build up from there and if you can, make a little story to go with it.

    E.g. I remembered the kanji for new 新 by coming up with the following little mnemonic with the bits that make it up:
    Cut down a standing (立) tree (木) with an axe (斤) to get new (新) wood.

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    I've been self-teaching myself Japanese for about four years now on and off or so. In October I actually start formal education at university. In two years it is very possible to learn the entire language if you are motivated! If you want to go at an eased pace, then you could very easily learn the basics of Japanese within two years, that is including learning Hiragana, Katakana, several jouyou kanji (and some non jouyou) as well as the grammar and vocabulary needed for basic speech.
    Sorry, still a newbie, what's the difference between jouyou and non jouyou kanji?
    And I'm sure motivated, even more now you said this so thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    Luckily Japanese is a very easy to pick up grammar wise, kanji can be a bit harder, but once you have found a way that suits you for learning them it will become much easier. One method I found easy when I started, was to learn the 100 needed for the JLPT L4 (Now JLPT N5) and then learn the more complex ones that build up from there and if you can, make a little story to go with it.
    Yeah, I heard that before too, that japanese grammar was quite easy and also that kanji is really hard. I already found Hiragana and Katakana pretty hard (tough I need much more pratcise to tell accuratly)...
    What's JLPT L4, a program for learning japanase?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    E.g. I remembered the kanji for new 新 by coming up with the following little mnemonic with the bits that make it up:
    Cut down a standing (立) tree (木) with an axe (斤) to get new (新) wood.
    That mnemonic is simply AWESOME


    Anyways, thanks a lot for all your help, it really helped!


    "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    Sorry, still a newbie, what's the difference between jouyou and non jouyou kanji?
    Jouyou (常用) just means 'habitual use', it is the list of 2,136 kanji that are commonly used in daily life in Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    Yeah, I heard that before too, that japanese grammar was quite easy and also that kanji is really hard. I already found Hiragana and Katakana pretty hard (tough I need much more pratcise to tell accuratly)...
    What's JLPT L4, a program for learning japanase?
    The JLPT is an acronym for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. It is a worldwide test held by the Japanese government. The used to go from (lowest to highest grade) Level 4, 3, 2 1, but to bridge the gap between 3 and 2 they brought in a new unit and made it N5, N4, N3, N2 and N1. (N3 being the new unit, L4 and L3 being N5 and N4 respectively).

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    That mnemonic is simply AWESOME
    I'm glad it helped
    Last edited by rmaroney; 07-26-2012 at 07:19 PM.

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    Jouyou (常用) just means 'habitual use', it is the list of 2,136 kanji that are commonly used in daily life in Japan.
    And you keep helping! Thanks. Jouyou is the romanji for the kanji 常用, rihgt?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    The JLPT is an acronym for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. It is a worldwide test held by the Japanese government. The used to go from (lowest to highest grade) Level 4, 3, 2 1, but to bridge the gap between 3 and 2 they brought in a new unit and made it N5, N4, N3, N2 and N1. (N3 being the new unit, L4 and L3 being N5 and N4 respectively).
    Lol, sorry, I got confused now, so Level 4 is the highest level?


    "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
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    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    And you keep helping! Thanks. Jouyou is the romanji for the kanji 常用, rihgt?
    Yes, that is the roumaji for the kanji 常用.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    Lol, sorry, I got confused now, so Level 4 is the highest level?
    No, N5 (formally L4) is the lowest level N1 (formally L1) is the highest.
    N5 = Beginner Level
    N1 = Sufficient for life in Japan

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    No, N5 (formally L4) is the lowest level N1 (formally L1) is the highest.
    N5 = Beginner Level
    N1 = Sufficient for life in Japan
    So you got N4 which would be like medium or what?


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    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    I have no formal qualifications in Japanese whatsoever I'm going to start a BA (Bachelor of Arts) at university in October soon where I'll be studying Japanese.

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    I have no formal qualifications in Japanese whatsoever I'm going to start a BA (Bachelor of Arts) at university in October soon where I'll be studying Japanese.
    Haha, but still I admire you

    That sounds awesome, good luck for that!


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Haha, thank you. If you ever need help, feel free to send me a message. I'd be more than happy to help someone learn Japanese! :P

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    I can't even draw japanese letters as is T_T.
    hella

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by Grell Loves Jozette View Post
    I can't even draw japanese letters as is T_T.
    You'll get the hang of it with a little practice. When I started my characters looked so awful (with a biro) that I felt ashamed to even show anyone. Now they look much more natural.

    自信があります! (Jishin ga arimasu! - Have confidence in yourself!)

    Edit: I think I am going to do something (on white or rice paper to make it easier to scan in and then edit for artwork) for the forum. It will using the following Kanji, but can anyone guess what it says?

    阿仁女 方流牟

    I've attached a picture with the kanji in as the first one doesn't seem to want to show on the forum post.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version

Name:	kanji.png‎
Views:	6
Size:	864 Bytes
ID:	65571  
    Last edited by rmaroney; 07-26-2012 at 08:47 PM.

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    Edit: I think I am going to do something (on white or rice paper to make it easier to scan in and then edit for artwork) for the forum. It will using the following Kanji, but can anyone guess what it says?

    阿仁女 方流牟
    阿仁女 方流牟
    a ni me hou ru mu

    sounds like Anime Forum~

    ---------- Post added at 10:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:09 PM ----------

    it's perfectly acceptable to use hiragana and katakana in calligraphy, though~

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by animeyay View Post
    阿仁女 方流牟
    a ni me hou ru mu

    sounds like Anime Forum~

    ---------- Post added at 10:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:09 PM ----------

    it's perfectly acceptable to use hiragana and katakana in calligraphy, though~
    Right, isn't Kanji only used for vocabulary? Or you can actually use it as for hiragana and katakana?
    Sorry it's a noob question


    "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
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    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by animeyay View Post
    阿仁女 方流牟
    a ni me hou ru mu

    sounds like Anime Forum~

    ---------- Post added at 10:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:09 PM ----------

    it's perfectly acceptable to use hiragana and katakana in calligraphy, though~
    I find 万葉仮名 more poetic for calligraphy, and more of a challenge

    @Uchiha_Luffy those kanji are used as 万葉仮名 (man'yōgana). It is an early phonetic form in Japanese that used Chinese Characters for their phonetic value rather than their actual meaning. This then developed into modern hiragana and katakana.
    Last edited by rmaroney; 07-27-2012 at 05:52 AM.

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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by rmaroney View Post
    I find 万葉仮名 more poetic for calligraphy, and more of a challenge

    @Uchiha_Luffy those kanji are used as 万葉仮名 (man'yōgana). It is an early phonetic form in Japanese that used Chinese Characters for their phonetic value rather than their actual meaning. This then developed into modern hiragana and katakana.
    God, you're so helpful @rmaroney !!

    I'm really thanfull to you
    I had read somewhere that Kanji was inspired in the Chinese Characters (thought it was an alphabet and not a phonetic form, tough), and also didn't know that it value rather phonetic than their actual meaning, so as that it developed into modern hiragana and katakana.


    "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
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    "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


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    Default Re: 書道 - Shodou - Calligraphy

    Quote Originally Posted by Uchiha_Luffy View Post
    God, you're so helpful @rmaroney !!

    I'm really thanfull to you
    I had read somewhere that Kanji was inspired in the Chinese Characters (thought it was an alphabet and not a phonetic form, tough), and also didn't know that it value rather phonetic than their actual meaning, so as that it developed into modern hiragana and katakana.
    Kanji comes from the Chinese word Hanzi which means 'Han (Sino/Chinese) Characters'. Originally Japanese used them for their phonetic value (man'yougana) and then they used them for their actual meanings and adopted them with their original readings (on'yomi) with the Japanese word (kun'yomi). Man'yougana evolved into katakana (and later hiragana) and the new script was used in conjunction with Kanji as okurigana (lit. affixed kana), which are kana attached to the end of kanji for general pronunciation differences between words, or verb endings, et cetera.

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