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Japanese from Scratch: Shodo - An Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy

Participants who had never before studied Japanese learned how to write beautiful Japanese characters such as 「夢」(yume, “dream”) 「和」(wa, “harmony”) and「愛」(ai, “love”) at our latest “Japanese from Scratch” workshop for beginners in Japanese language studies. The workshop, which focused on the art of shodō (Japanese calligraphy), was held on March 13th at the Japan Foundation London, and 17 people braved the snowy weather to come along and take part.

The workshop was led by Hiroko Tanaka, Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation London and experienced shodō practitioner. The workshop started with a quiz about Japan, followed by an introduction to some useful Japanese words and phrases. Tanaka-sensei then introduced the Japanese writing systems – hiragana, katakana and kanji – explaining their history, origins and how to use them. This was followed by an introduction to calligraphy tools and techniques, after which the participants practised using water and special Japanese “mizu-shuuji” paper.

Finally, when everyone had got to grips with the basics of shodō, the participants created their own shodō pieces with real Japanese paper and ink. Although most participants had never studied Japanese before, they all created fabulous pieces of work demonstrating their skill and determination. All staff at the Japan Foundation were very impressed!

 After the workshop, one participant said, “The teacher was excellent and really structured the workshop well. I liked how she talked about the meaning and symbolism behind words.” Another commented, “Enjoyed the workshop – learnt so much about the history and types of characters as well as the actual art of calligraphy.”

We would like to thank all participants for coming and for their hard work – arigatou gozaimashita.

If you have never studied Japanese before and are interested in learning, or have only just begun to study Japanese, please click here to sign up to our monthly e-bulletin to receive notifications of this and other Japan Foundation events. Click here to read more about Japanese from Scratch and view reports of previous workshops.