Shodo literally means “The way (second kanji character in the image above) of the writing (first kanji in the image above)”. It is the art of writing with a brush and ink on a special paper. It is taught in Japanese schools as a part of the Japanese language curriculum. Either way, it is not very common nowadays, although it is still used on New Year’s cards, in special occasions when money is handed out in envelopes, etc. There are also true artists who practice Shodo professionally. To become really good, it is said that you need several years of very hard training.
During the Vulcanus in Japan programme some years ago, we had a few Shodo lessons. One of the most important things is to always keep the brush perpendicular to the surface and to follow the proper order of the strokes.
Fude: brush made out of bamboo and horse hairs.
Sumi: ink you pour into the stone container (Suzuri)
Hanshi: special paper for ink writing.
Shitajiki: protection you need to place underneath the paper.
Bunchin: weight to hold the paper in place.
Presenting the results
For those interested, you can buy Shodo kits with all you need from 3,000 Yen in specialized Japanese stationery stores.