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Calligraphy or the path of writing

Calligraphy is the art of giving form to signs in an expressive and harmonious manner. In Japan, this practice is not only about aesthetics. It holds a spiritual dimension which makes it hard to master. Some talented calligraphers have unveiled the secrets of this art to Japan Expo's attendees during shows mixing traditions and history!

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Yasuda MAI & Ninja -KAGERO- Japan Expo 18e Impact

Calligraphy, known as shodo in Japanese (literally "the path of writing"), first appeared in China before spreading through the archipelago during the 7th century thanks to Buddhist monks. The Japanese people appropriated some sinograms to create part of their own alphabet. This signs based on the Chinese language are called kanji.

Calligraphy is not only about producing beautiful pieces: it must allow the person holding the brush to express their being and their inner soul. The outline isn't just a symbol on a paper: it is primarily the extension of the calligrapher's body.

This spiritual art is made of many codes. For instance, the outline has to be executed in one single move and cannot be adjusted, which conveys an even more unique aspect to the piece. Nothing is left to chance in Japanese calligraphy. The course of the stroke, its shape, and even the empty spaces between characters are meaningful.

 
 

This practice calls for precise tools, also known as "the four treasures of the study": an inkstick, an inkstone, mulberry paper, and a brush. In order to produce the ink that will be used in calligraphy, water is poured into the inkstone and the inkstick is rubbed against it. Traditionally, letters are calligraphed in black, but it is not unusual to find pieces displaying color shades.

Some artists showed up at Japan Expo with their paintbrushes to perpetuate this art form in front of an audience willing to discover its subtleties. Miho, a professional calligraphy artist rewarded by the Japanese Ministry of Culture, gave a performance mixing genres on the Sakura stage alongside beatboxer Waccha and koto player Gaho TAKAHASHI. Mai YASUDA, an artist wishing to spread traditional culture across the world through calligraphy, also gave a demonstration at the festival. Accompanied by the NINJA -KAGERO- group, she won the audience over with a surprising and daring show displaying Japanese calligraphy, danse, and martial arts.

You can take a look back at these performances – as well as all the videos of the Sakura stage traditional shows – on JapanExpoTV, our Youtube channel!

Miho X Waccha X Gaho TAKAHASHI - Japan Expo 18e Impact

 
 

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  • Culture & traditions
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