Japanese Calligraphy

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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 calligraphers produced styles intrinsic to Japan. Who practices Japanese calligraphy?

In Japanese, calligraphy is called shodou, or “the way of writing”. Unlike its Western counterpart, it is widely practiced by people of all ages and all walks of life in Japan. Indeed, all Japanese children have to learn the basics of calligraphy as part of their elementary school education. History of Japanese calligraphy

The history of Japanese calligraphy can be traced back to the origins of Chinese civilization and the creation of the Chinese writing system itself about 4,500 years ago. Calligraphy had already been developed a considerable amount by the time it arrived in Japan sometime around the sixth century, at approximately the same time that the Chinese system of writing (kanji) was also being imported. By the Heian period, the Japanese had already begun to show considerable attainment in the new art form with the “Three Great Brushes” (or sanpitsu) of the Buddhist monk, Kuukai (774-835), the Emperor Saga (786-842) and the courtier Tachibana no Hayanari (778-842) achieving an apotheosis of the then-popular calligraphic style of the T'ang Chinese master, Yan Zhenqing (709-785). These three were succeeded in the 10th and 11th centuries by the “Three Traces” (or sanseki), Ono no Tofu, Fujiwara no Sukemasa (also known as Fujiwara no Sai) and Fujiwara no Yukinari (also known as Fujiwara no Kozei), who developed the first uniquely Japanese expression of calligraphy called wayou. Fujiwara no Yukinari’s form led to the creation of the Sesonji School, whereas Ono no Tofu’s style started the Shouren School that later...
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