Japanese Calligraphy: Shodo Art

Japanese Calligraphy also referred to as Shodo is an art of writing by hand to create symbols or letters using a brush dipped in ink. This is an art that takes decades to master and anyone can take a class including the ordinary, nobles, and samurais.

The Japanese refer to this calligraphy as a supreme form of art that is superior to other forms of art including sculpture and painting. It is a means of expressing haughty feelings and thoughts without using words.

The Symbols in Japanese Calligraphy

The symbols or letters created in Japanese Calligraphy are referred to as Kanji or Kana. Kana represent syllables and have specific meanings. Kanji is more complex and represent words or ideas like peace, luck, and happiness. They also represent other things like horses, dogs, volcanos, or fire.

The Shodo Writing Styles

Since its beginning, Japanese Calligraphy has seen the formation of many writing styles that reflect the trends or a current ruler during a specific period. There are three main types of Shodo writing styles:


This is considered to be the block of other lesser formal styles. The kai in the word Kaisho stands for “correctness” which is what the style is founded on. Each stroke must follow a rigid order and the composition and proportions be well executed.


This is a less formal style than Kaisho. It focuses on fluidity and motion with less angular characters. The brush doesn’t leave the paper and each stroke is intended to continue to the next.


The most difficult to master and comprehend, Shosho is thought to depict the effects of the wind blowing the grassland where symbols flow into one another. It is mostly used in abstract art, especially Zen art.

If you have purchased some form of Japanese Calligraphy and want to hang it on your wall, you can head to Royal Design and buy a picture frame.