History of Japanese Calligraphy

Japanese Calligraphy is a form of art that can be traced back to before Japan was even formed. This style of art is coined by the Chinese and then adapted and revolutionized by the Japanese culture. Japanese calligraphy is called shodou or "the way of writing," and it is practiced by the Japanese and pretty much all types of people in Japan and even taught to the children in elementary school. This style of writing has been developed over thousands of years and has even transcended a lot of Westernized modern art. Japan has established schools for calligraphers to perfect their crafts over the years. The Sesonji School and the Shouren School (which marked another form of Japanese Calligraphy called the Oie style of writing) are two of the most famous calligraphy schools in the world.

There are three main styles of Japanese calligraphy that our used throughout Japan. The first is Kaisho meaning "correct writing," this style is the most studied type of writing because it is the normal day to day style. The Kaisho writing style is what English would call the AP or MLA writing styles. Kaisho is the writing found in newspapers and things for general knowledge. This is taught to students first because it allows them the chance to get comfortable with using the fude correctly (the fude is the brush used for calligraphy).

The second style of Japanese calligraphy is the Gyousho which means "travel writing," and it's the semi cursive style of writing. This style is most similar to the cursive writing used with English. It is mostly used for taking notes and formal invitations. The differences it has with the kaisho style is that the words are written together to form a more rounded look, unlike the kaisho which is written separately. The majority of educated Japanese can read this style in text form. The third and most difficult type of writing style is the Sousho which means "grass writing," and it is expressed through a flowing cursive style of writing. This style is very difficult to read unless trained and taught by scholars of the actual art. This style of calligraphy differs from the others because the calligraphers almost never take the brush off the page which creates beautiful swooping shapes in the form of words.

Japanese calligraphy has come a long way over the thousands of years it has existed. Adapting and creating new tides to the art has been a leading factor in its continuous importance and survival in the world. The Japanese have treasured their calligraphy, and past on many traditions over time. Calligraphy is an art form like no other, very expression based and filled with a lot of touch and care. Each stroke of the brush has to be perfect, and learning the art takes years of training and practice to perfect. Even Picasso gives his admiration towards the art in some of his paintings.

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Calligraphy styles have developed since ancient and medieval times, when the task of writing fell to scribes who used writing as a tool to record events of the times.

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