History of Japanese Calligraphy

Japanese calligraphy. SHODO, traces its origins to China, and was introduced into Japan around the 6th or 7th century from South Korea by a priest, Doncho, who brought special paper and a black ink for calligraphy.
After that, Japanese began to record oral traditions (myths, legends, and songs) in calligraphy. In antiquity, Shodo was an indispensable part of the education of aristocrats, the samurai and the protests in Japan.
Finally. Shodo spread to the general population and became part of Japanese life. As such, it became a traditional Japanese art. Today, Shodo is taught in elementary and junior high school as part of Japanese language class. Although most Japanese do not a brush for everyday writing, some people used a brush on special occasions, such as when writing New Yea's cards, or when writing names on special envelopes for monetary gifts given on celebratory or condolence occasions.


Japanese Language

Japanese language includes three alphabets: Kanji (Chinese characters),
Hiragana, and Katakana.

• Kanji (Chinese character)

An ideographic character. Each letter has a meaning. There are said to be
some 50,000 Chinese characters, many of which have been adopted into
Japanese. There are also some Kanji which were created in Japan.
However, many Kanji are not used in daily life and, today, 1945 characters
have been designated as "Kanji in common use" by Japan's Ministry of

• Hiragana

Each character is a phonetic symbol that is used to write words that are
native to Japan.

• Katakana

Each character is a phonetic symbol that is used to write words of foreign
origin or onomatopoeia.


Roots of Hiragana and Katakana

Hiragana and Katakana were developed in the Heian period (794-1185).

Hiragana originated in the more extreme forms of Sosho (one of calligraphy styles). As it was the primary script for Heian men, Hiragana was at one time referred as onnade (women's writing).In the Heian period, Aristocratic literature flourished with women writers and poets playing important roles. Historical fiction and legends were also created.
Hiragana is also called "KANA." There is calligraphy of Kana. It developed with the growing popularity of WAKA poetry. Compared to the boldness of Chinese characters, Kana calligraphy is elegant and refined.

Katakana was derived from Chinese characters. Each Katakana characters is a component of Chinese characters.