The Japanese calligraphy has its roots in the calligraphy that originated in China. Its history can be traced back to the period of 28th century B.C. This makes it quite an ancient art. Traditionally, the art of calligraphy in Japan was practiced on mulberry leaves with the help of ink. This form of calligraphy has an alternate name in Japan and i.e. shodou. The word ‘shodou’ means way of writing. In Japan, calligraphy is taught to people right from the childhood. The influence of Buddhism had spread in Japan in the period around 7thcentury. Scriptures associated with Buddhism were mostly documented by means of calligraphy.
Interesting Details about Japanese Calligraphy
The specialty of Japanese calligraphy is that in this fine art, the strokes need to be drawn in a certain order. This art is unlike Roman calligraphy where the order of drawing the strokes is not specific; it is just arbitrarily done. Important styles of calligraphy in Japan are the Gyousho, Kaisho and Sousho. Here is more information on these styles.
- Gyousho: This is a semi-cursive style of writing in which you find the script to be flowing or fluid. This style makes the characters to appear rounded i.e. with curves. If you go with the literal meaning of Gyousho, it is translated as ‘travel writing’. The Japanese people generally make use of this style of calligraphy when they have to take down notes. The style is commonly used by educated people in Japan.
- Kaisho: The Kaisho style is characterized by the clear letters which resemble the ones seen in printed documents. The literal meaning of Kaisho is ‘correct writing’. You have to be very careful while using this style because it needs to be written correctly without incorporating any cursive strokes. This is the reason why Kaisho is taught to students. The fundamentals of drawing and sketches can be understood through the art of calligraphy Once they learn the correct usage of strokes in Kaisho, they can easily move on to semi-cursive and cursive writing styles.
- Sousho: The Sousho is a cursive style with flowing strokes. This style is also referred to as ‘grass writing’ owing to its flowing strokes. One of the characteristics of this style is that the brush hardly leaves the paper. However, it means the readability is compromised to some extent. The Sousho and Kaisho are on two extremes where the former is characterized by flowing strokes and the latter by a clear/correct writing.
The art of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy had a great influence on artists of the West. Artists like Picasso and Matisse have admitted to be influenced by this form of calligraphy. In fact, Picasso went to the extent of saying that had he not been a painter, he would have loved to become a calligrapher.
All these facts about Japanese calligraphy underline the importance of this art form. They also highlight the fact that, it had great influence on other cultures of the world. It is therefore, necessary to preserve this style of writing and make useful contributions to it.