書道/Shodo: the way of the brush


Shodo – Calligraphy
Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Yesterday, I wrapped up my last full teaching day with 書道(shodo), calligraphy or the way of the brush. (書) kaku means “to write” and (道) do means “path” or “way.” When you put the two together, you get 書道(shodo). According to the material I gave my students, it’s much more than penmanship, it’s about expression. The article says, “Shodo attempts to bring words to life, and endow them with character.” Since we are at the year’s end, I didn’t get formal. So, they enjoyed discovering what they could do. They were given bamboo brushes, ink, paper and a packet that included some kanji, haiku and an ancient poem 「いろは」Iroha.

I learned about Iroha several years ago, again, from my shodo sensei. He wrote the poem out in hiragana as well as kanji and my students receive a copy of that every year. We’ll take it further next class, watching different ways of interpreting it orally from performances on NHK’s Nihongo de Asobo (Let’s play with Japanese). It’s a show that essentially introduces children to Japanese literature and material that might be lost or forgotten. A few old children’s songs I learned as a child are on there. Some are pieces are performed traditionally then turned around and performed as rap (for example). My students are entertained but also mystified by it. I am too on one level, but I love it.

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2 Responses to “書道/Shodo: the way of the brush”

  1. seanachain Says:

    ah did you pen iroha?It is a lovely poem to learn about the old hiragana system!

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