Leaving Japan for such a long period of time made me realize how little time I actually have left in this amazing country.  With a new sense of urgency, I signed up for a few Japanese art classes, including Shodo 書道, Ikebana 生け花, and Chigirieちぎり絵.  Last week, I had my first Japanese Calligraphy class called Shodo.  While I am by no means an artist, I have always loved art, and I am a strong believer in strengthening our art and music programs in American schools.  It is so disappointing that these programs are the first to go in budget situations, and I hope that in the future we will be able to see beyond the budget and focus on educating our nation’s youth to become more whole and inspired human beings.  But enough of my beliefs on America’s educational system.  Back to the art of Shodo.

My class was taught by a woman named Edoyo Sekoh, which is actually her artist name, not her real name.  She holds a degree in Calligraphy from the Tokyo Gakugei University, which I thought was fabulous.  I didn’t even realize you could earn a degree in Calligraphy! A professional Calligraphist….that made my day!  We began the class with an introduction to Shodo: “Japanese writing KANJI with a brush.  Play with color ink.” I like that!  Play with color ink.  “You enjoy writing the Chinese character of Japan with the brush, and making the work today.” And enjoy I did.  We were given a list of kanji we might want to try, and since I am decorating the guest room with some of my “artwork,” I chose friendship友情.

Edoyo demonstrated what we should be doing with orange ink, and then we mimicked her using black ink.  It was really very interesting, and I enjoyed having a professional to learn from.  After each attempt, she would go over ours with orange ink to show us where we needed to improve.

My very first attempt was my best, and I got worse and worse, though I enjoyed it immensely.  After we had practiced our character, Edoyo wrote out our names in Kanji so we could sign our work.  It was amazing how difficult it was to write my name in Kanji.  And you have to write it very tiny.  My name ended up being almost as big as the character I was writing, but I figure it will get better with time.  It was very calming and peaceful to sit there focusing on each brush stroke, and I am really excited to be trying my hand at this beautiful Japanese art.