Arts & Crafts: Japanese Calligraphy

We had 2 whole weeks to complete  our homework for our most recent Japanese class, and when do you think we actually did the homework? If you guessed within 2 hours before the class, you’d be correct! But turns out we now have a week free of having to do homework (though we’re studying extra anyway!) because we didn’t have a traditional lesson… Instead, we got a chance to try our hand at Japanese calligraphy, by writing a Kanji character very large with Japanese Sumi-Ink and this brushes. I was super excited for it!

はじめて!Hajimete: “first time!” たのしみ!  Tanoshimi: “I can’t wait!”

First we practiced on old newspapers, and after a few times we were able to move on to the real papers. The kanji should be centered on the page, so to define the center, we folded the paper in half twice and went to it. It’s important to make sure you have enough ink, so between strokes, it’s OK to dip some more (but you don’t want the brush dripping with ink!). Speaking of strokes, the 2nd kanji below has 14 different strokes, a specific order for each of them and it’s always important to do them the proper direction. It might appear that the fat point of a stroke is always the starting point, but this is not true. For the kanji itself, a thicker brush is used and you hold the brush straight over the paper. On the left is Katakana (Japanese writing that shows how to say foreign words) writing for our names.

We were given a choice between 4 kanji characters: “ai” – Love, “wa” – Japan/ Peace, “yume” – Dream, and the 4th meant Light, but I don’t remember what it was… obviously we didn’t pick it! Here is the final product that we produced from this lesson:

Japanese Calligraphy, Kanji, Peace, Japan, Sumi Ink Painting

“wa” – Japan/ Peace. Joe did this one!

ゆめ, 夢, Japanese Calligraphy, Kanji, Sumi Ink, Dream, yume

“yume” – Dream. This was mine!

I think it’s fitting that we chose these 2 because moving to Japan has been exiting yet peaceful, we love our work, and it’s been a dream that we followed and has been amazing! When we told our coworker that we did calligraphy, she insisted we bring them to work, so toda we did & they are now hanging in the lobby of our school.

I really loved this lesson and I’m hoping that when we move, I’ll have a lot more opportunities to practice and learn more calligraphy (and kanji!). Currently, we are planning to take the JLPT (Japanese language Proficiency Test) this coming July – the first time they will offer it this year. Our plan is to only take the lowest level for now – as a starting point, and depending on how that goes, aiming higher in December when the tests are offered again.

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