Kanji is not only practical, it is also a kind of art. Shodo is the Path of Writing. In Japan, infants are introduced to Shuji or Shodo in school but it is widely practiced in general. Every New Year, the Kiyomizu-dera announces the Kanji of the year.


For Shodo you need:
A Suzuri, a dish to rub the solid ink block in water.
Sumi, the ink block itself, made of soot and gelatine. You can smell the quality of the block.
A brush or Fude. They have special properties, namely the brush is has a conic shape, the hair is very soft compared to painting brushes and the rest is made of bamboo.
A Bunchin, a weight to keep the paper in place.
The paper, Hanshi and a Shitajiki. One thinks that like ancient Papyrus it is made from reed but this is erroneous; just like ordinary paper, it is made from wood. Yet it is special since it has a smooth and a rough side, you write on the smooth side, the rough side prevents the paper from slipping. Shitajiki is a thin cushion on top of which the paper rests.


The Hiragana came into being from Kanji in Shodo.Kaisho is the strict writing style where every stroke is clearly visible. Gyousho is more fluent, softer and more sensitive but also more dynamic.Sousho is an extreme form of Gyousho and the characters are irrecognisable if you are not familiar with Shodo. Gradually, from this became Hiragana; the Manyo-Gana, the Kanji written purely for their phonetic value, were converted to the Hiragana you know. See below for an example.

Furthermore, there are Reisho and Tensho, archaic forms of Shodo. Our archive contains more examples.