Art of calligraphy
Japanese characters are based on "kanji" characters introduced from China around the 5th century.
In Japan, "hiragana" and "katakana" for Japanese language were invented from kanji characters between the 9th to 12th centuries.
Of course, now, these characters are written with pencil, ballpoint pen, and various writing tools on a daily basis.
But, these characters has been written with ink-filled brush historically.
Writing characters is a practical work.
But it had developed from ancient times that the characters are written beautifully.
That is the art of calligraphy.
Needless to say, the characters written with brush are much larger than the ones written with the other writing tools.
And the thickness of the line can be changed.
There are several thousand kanji characters which are commonly used.
Each kanji character has any meaning.
Therefore, the form of each kanji character is the subject of art.
Kanji characters are basically written vertically.
So, many artworks of calligraphy are written vertically.
Some artworks are written many characters in a sheet, but some works are written only one character.
Some works are written in standard style of character, but some works are written in cursive style.
We can find some modern works like abstract picture.
Tools for calligraphy
- Inkstone : It's a black stone on which sumi-ink is made, and is called "suzuri" in Japanese.
Most inkstones have a flat surface and a dent on an edge.
A little water is put into the dent, and sumi-ink are made by grinding an sumi (ink-cake) with the water on the flat surface.
- Sumi (Ink-cake) : Sumi makes black ink on a inkstone.
Sumi is like a very solid crayon, and it is produced by solidifying soot with glue.
- Ink brush : It's a brush to write characters.
It has mostly tapered brush.
In Japanese, it is called "fude"
Calligraphy in daily life of the Japanese people
Japanese people learn and exercise the calligraphy at the second half of elementary school and junior high school.
Of course, not all students can write beautifully.
But, it is the accomplishments of Japanese people.
Usually, we are enough to write with pencil, mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen.
But when we attend a wedding or funarel, we write our name with sumi-ink on the envelope filled with contribution or condolence money out of politeness.
Some people write a letter with sumi-ink.
Of course, several people use the sumi-ink made on an inkstone.
But, recently convenient "Fudepen" also are widely used.
"Fude" means "brush".
It is an ink brush containing sumi-ink, and we can use it like ballpoint pen.
In any case, the person who can write beautifully with brush is implicitly respected.
Seeing art of calligraphy
In main museums of art, we can find few works of calligraphy.
Instead, we can find old works in many museums of history.
Usually modern works are sometimes exhibited for a limited time only in several galleries.
Recently, "Calligraphy Performance" is sometimes held as event.
The performers write characters with a big brush like broom on a huge paper with several meters on the floor, dancing to the music.
The performers are commonly the young members of calligraphy club in high school or university.
The performance is attractive, and the complete artwork is beautiful.