Shodo – A Japanese Art

Shodo – A Japanese Art Of Persistence And Astuteness

A form of ‘restricted detonation on paper’, Shodo is an art of Japanese Calligraphy which means ‘technique of writing’. It is an elegant and gorgeous piece of the art specialized in this part of the world—another form of calligraphy known as Kanji uses Japanese characters with sound and connotation of image aesthetics. Where kanji is used to depict the intangible and indistinguishable idea of the world, Shodo portrays the most significant principles of ancient Japanese civilization and lifestyle.


A sturdy hand is not the only requisition to specialize in Shodo. It requires an alert, stable, and unambiguous state of mind with immense exertion and years of practice to be proficient in this form of art. To master Shodo, one should be able to act instinctively with a lucid mind instead of focusing on handwriting. As expressed by a Zen Buddha follower, Takuan Soho, ‘Not impeding the mind is the aim and soul of this art’.


Let’s have a look at some of the essential and inevitable elements of Shodo.

#Shodo# – A Japanese Art

form of restricted detonation

art of Japanese Calligraphy

technique of writing


History of Shodo

Although this form of calligraphy is considered to be Japanese art, it originated in China. Japanese learned Shodo in the early sixth century along with methods to make ink, paper, and brushes. Shodo was an indispensable element of basic education among the people in dignified ruling families. However, as time passed, common men started specializing in this skill and it was soon a widespread knack.


Equipment of Shodo

Shodo kit essentially comprises an assortment of calligraphy brushes, stone inkstones (there are ceramic and plastic inkstones as well), shitajiki (a black felt kept beneath the writing paper), colored ink, and paperweight. Shitajiki may sound like an insignificant element of Shodo calligraphy to beginners. However, it is as essential as the ink and paper used for writing. The shitajiki paper has four white squares and six on the opposite side to make sure that the letters of shodo are rightly sized and symmetrically correct when written on the main paper. It’s a must for students practicing Shodo. It is generally found in many sizes.


Colors of Shodo

People following traditional Japanese Calligraphy use black ink as it was the only shade of Shodo representation in the ancient days. However, contemporary art lovers have now started using all available vibrant colors which add attractiveness to this already sophisticated art. Bright orange-colored ink is used by calligraphy trainers to rectify students’ work. A common practice of signing, stamping, or sealing names at the bottom of the finished work is done with red ink.


Shodo Styles

Shodo can be learned and practiced in three fundamental styles. Kaisho (square style) is a form of Shodo in which the characters or alphabets are accurately sketched in a printed form. The edges are generally pointed than curved. Gyosho (semi-cursive) is a style of Japanese calligraphy where characters are drawn with a loose hand and the edges are slightly curved. Lastly, Sosho (cursive) includes sketching with a very free and loose hand with sweeping and flowing movements. The characters in Sosho are quite curvy and more attractive than those in other styles.


Learning Shodo

The most crucial and essential part of learning calligraphy is patience and practice. Gain expertise, requires appropriate balance, stoking order, the cadence of sketching characters, and accurate hand weight which is only perfected after a year. The factors that influence the exquisiteness of any finished Shodo work include line sizes of the characters, the intensity of the ink on the paper, and applied balance and weight.

While practicing this art, don’t forget that straight lines be thick, apparent, and immaculate, while curved lines should be fragile, thin, and mobile. Along with the technique, it is equally important to learn various characters that can be sketched in Shodo. When compared to Western calligraphy, Shodo is much tougher because Western art includes perfecting only 26 characters while Shodo has 48,000 characters to learn.

The essence of Japanese Shodo is not only in the beauty and elegance of the art but also in the meaning of hieroglyphs produced by the brushes. Along with the splendor and magnificence practiced by the hand of each student, Shodo transfers age-old wisdom and culture conserved by ancient priests and practitioners. Each line of this art is evocative, and each curve is significant.

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