Shodo – Calligraphy Exhibition
If you are in Tokyo and interested in Japanese calligraphy, shodo, you might want to and see the 54th annual Nihon Shosakuin exhibition on the second floor of the National Art Center in Roppongi. The exhibition is nothing less than massive, it would take a day or two to just read all of the beautiful calligraphy that is on display. The exhibition runs until the 17th of February, 13:30. Calligraphy came to Japan with the introduction of writing from China and as usual they have made it into a beloved national art form. Almost all schools in Japan teach calligraphy to their students and there are many school clubs dedicated to the subject. Japanese still take great pride in beautiful handwriting and a lot of people keep the tradition of writing with ink and brush alive.
One of the more interesting traditions involving calligraphy is the kakizome (書き初め), the first writing of the new year. In the old days people would write a poem on the the first day of the new year, using ink made from the first water drawn from the well. These days though, many people settle on writing characters that they like or find promising for the new years. I have even seen sets of ink, brushes and paper set out in bars and night clubs in the first few days of the year. It is interesting to see young and old club goers and bar-hoppers sit down and concentrate on this ancient art before getting back on the dance floor or karaoke machine!
Even though this is an ancient art form there are still trends and movements in the styles presented by the different artists, and to my untrained eye the writing looked more subdued than the wild sprawling writing I saw a lot of when I visited the exhibition in 2010.