Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Shodo

Ok, maybe not ‘everything.’ Musouka left a nice comment on my last post about World Domination. It was a question about how to use the Shodo set bought from our online Japanese bookstore.

Here is a brief history and definition. I wish I could go in to it more, but the truth is, I don’t do shodo. I’ve tried it in the past, but I am just not that skilled. Shodo is an art form that requires patience (I lack that) and hand-writing skill (I most definitely lack that) – Oh, and lots of paper (that I can manage).

What is it?
Shodo 書道 shodou is Japanese calligraphy dating back at least 1500 years. Essentially, shodo is writing Japanese kanji and Chinese characters on special Japanese paper called 和紙 washi [和 wa Japanese 紙 shi paper] with a brush called 筆 fude.

Japanese Calligraphy - Shodo Set sold at TheJapanShop.com

* Suzuri: place where you mix the sumi with water and it holds the ink
* Sumi: Solid black ink that you rub in water on the Suzuri to make the liquid ink
* Shodoueki: already ready ink in liquid form. (If you don’t want to mess with the Sumi stick, here you go!)
* Mizusashi: just a container to squirt water into the suzuri when needed.
* Fude: Brush. The smaller brush (kofude) is used for writing your name and the larger brush is used for drawing the *characters.
* Bunchin: Heavy metal stick used to hold paper steady while writing.
* Shitajiki: Black, soft mat to lay under the paper

The beginning of this video shows how to mix the ink using the sumi on the suzuri.

Check out MoutainGaijin’s other videos. Very neat.

For more on the history of Shodo, check out Wikipedia’s entry.


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