The Art of Shodō: Traditional Japanese Calligraphy

Japan Nakama
6 min readApr 29, 2021

Japanese Calligraphy (書道), or Shodō (way of writing), is a writing art form that dates back to the 6th century. A craft requiring skill and patience, artists use a brush dipped with ink to express ancient forms of communication with Kanji symbols and characters.

The art form first originated in China. At the time, Japan did not have a written expression of language. Japanese people began to adopt a style through Chinese characters and symbols, thus introducing Japanese calligraphy.

How fun would it be to pick the brain of a Japanese calligraphy artist?

We spoke to Rie Takeda, a UK/Germany-based calligrapher who gave us her story of learning this ancient craft, along with her unique teaching methods, and why Japanese calligraphy is important to Japan.

Firstly, do you remember the moment when you first fell in love with Japanese Calligraphy?

I don’t remember precisely the moment.

However, I remember I enjoyed rubbing the Sumi stick, and the scent of the Sumi — the whole process of doing calligraphy made me calmer and peaceful. That’s why I continued practicing this art form — that led me to what I am and where I am today.

A short version of ‘Visual Calligraphy’

After mastering the craft of Shodō, you developed a teaching method you call mindfulness method; Can you explain why this resonates so well with your students?

Photo Credit: Shodo Calligraphy

After trying out various ways and experimenting practices, I created this method.

I think it could be how I focus on guiding students to become aware of their inner energy and showing the technique that enables them to make the energy flow instantly visible on the paper. Through the process, they can stay in the present moment during the practice and

Japan Nakama

Japan Nakama are a London based online publication that investigates and explores all aspects of Japanese Culture.