Shodo (FCalligraphy)

Shodo is an art form using Japanese and Chinese characters. This decorative calligraphy is much admired because each character has a meaning and also the multitude of character shapes. Using only a brush and black ink to form the characters.

Brief history:

Shodo has its origins in China. It was introduced into Japan in the 8th century (Heian period). Emperor Saga, Kukai and Tachibana no Hayanori are considered to represent Chinese calligraphy's classic beauty, they are referred to as the Three Great Brushes (SanpitsuFOM) During the 10th and 11th centuries, Ono no Tofu, Fujiwara no Sukemasa and Fujiwara no Yukinari developed a unique Japanese style, known as Wayo. Fujiwara no Yukinari's style led to the birth of the Sensoji school and Ono no Tofu style led to the foundation of the Shoren school, which later developed the Oie style of calligraphy. 

The Oie style was used on official documents during the Edo period. Four basic styles of calligraphy. Kaishoij: A block style, with little brush movement. 

Gyoshoisj: Between Kaisho and Sosho. A little more brush movement. 

Sosho (j: Using swift brush strokes, it has freedom of  movement and is a very creative style. One of the most popular. Kana (j: Heian period women used this style. It developed  popularity of Waka (ájpoetry. Kana is an elegant and refined form. 

Ukiyo-e(G: Floating World Picture) 


Ukiyo-e became popular in the middle of the 18th century, along with the popularity of Kabuki (̕) and new printing technology. It became possible to print full color pictures and Suzuki Harunobu created the full color Nishiki-e (ъGjprints, he drew pictures of beautiful women with good detailed backgrounds.

Kitagawa Utamara was skilled at the O-kubi-e showing women from the waist up. These portraits often used backgrounds with sparkling mica, they are powerful and sensual pictures.

Toshusai Sharaku used his skills to depict the characters of the Kabuki theater. HE produced 150 pictures from Kabuki plays in Edo between 1794 and 1795.

During the 19th century, there were many inferior prints produced on the topics already mentioned. Katsushika Hokusai and Ando Hiroshige develped a new theme. Hokusai became famous for his 36 views of Mount Fuji and other tourist site. Hiroshige is well-known for his 53 stations on the Tokaido and  69 stations on the Kisokaido. These series of pictures portray Japanese scenery and the sights of travelers.

Many Ukiyo-e found themselves in Europe influencing Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and other impressionists.

Lacquer ware@ij


Bamboo, wood, cloth and other materials are coated with layers of lacquer. The lacquer is extracted from the lacquer tree. Lacquer ware has been produced throughout Southern Asia for more than two thousand years. In Japan the lacquer making technique became so sophisticated that the term "Japan" has became the generic term for lacquer ware, as China is for porcelain. In the 15th and 16th centuries "Japan" was exported to Europe by Dutch and Portuguese traders. Lacquer has been used since ancient times as a glue and a varnish to protect wooden, bamboo or cloth objects. The earliest known use of lacquer in Japan was as a glue and protective coating for bows and sword hilts.

Today the best Japanese lacquer ware is principally an art form. Well-known types of lacquer ware are, Wajima, Aizu and Shunkei. Lacquer ware is often used for New Year celebrations and other important occasions. There are many plastic examples sold in shops today, they are a lot cheaper than the real thing. So, you should take time to look carefully for souvenirs.

       This page was last automatically updated on  01/03/13 05:16:01


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