Among the programs offered this season are a handful of opportunities to learn about Japanese culture. On March 16, we learned about shodo, the way of writing the Japanese language.
Our instructor was Michiko Yoshimoto, Japan Outreach Coordinator at the Soga Japan Center of Western Michigan University, and a member of our Steering Committee. She explained the basics of understanding the Japanese writing system.
- Katagana is comprised of symbols each of which represents a sound (similar to an alphabet).
- Kanji is a compound form created from a group of Chinese characters.
- Hiragana is a related alphabet that is used to represent words of other languages.
Shodo is written with a special brush and black ink. The discipline of shodo involves concentration. One must maintain a straight posture and hold the brush perpendicular to the table. Each stroke is deliberate and precise. Delicate flourishes may appear spontaneous, but they are specific and prescribed. That’s why years of practice are required to achieve correct form.
I enjoyed the short time we had to practice writing a few words. In spite of the challenge, it was more calming than frustrating.
Shodo: Japanese Calligraphy