A Little Favor


A friend asked me to meet her for lunch, so I got delayed going to shuji class and headed to the jewelry shop where she works. She produced a piece of paper and a mounting for it and asked me to do her a favor. She had also written a Japanese saying on a slip of notepaper.

The favor is to write the saying with a brush. I am a little nervous about this because:

  1. My skill with the slender brush is inconsistent
  2. There is only one sheet of paper (i.e., no margin of error)
  3. She wants it by Wednesday (i.e., no prep/practice time)

After shuji class I spent some time researching different forms of the characters in a script reference book. I think I am decided on sousho (草書), a fully cursive script. It is the most fluid and fun, but also the hardest to write because there is no point where one can stop.

The paper is about 7cm wide x 37cm high. We call this size paper tanzaku (短冊). When it is mounted on the larger card, it is called tanzakukake (短冊掛け). These are often used to write some kind of thanks or special message to be hung in a special place in the home.

My friend will give this to another friend for a birthday present, so she picked a saying that is a favorite of the birthday girl:


This is read ‘seikou udoku‘ and means something like “Work (farm) on the sunny days, read on the rainy days.” Very fitting since the typhoon just passed through and dumped a lot of rain. On those days the farmers have to occupy themselves inside, but once the storm passes they are back out in the fields. I’ll try to snap a photo of the finished work and post it.


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