Well, here it is, finally, after all this time. I hope it was worth waiting for.
I started studying Japanese calligraphy (習字・shuji, 書道・shodo) in November of 2004 and joined the Japanese Calligraphy Society (日本習字) in November of 2005. Joining the society was a sort of challenge to see how I would rank; and, after initial success, I set high goals for myself. Sometimes I write about my advancements; however, I’ve gotten comments about how I rarely post my work. (Like this fun work to test out “real paper”, or this sample from a gasenshi size work, or this gasenshi size work when I earned my Elementary teaching license.)
My primary excuse is that, although I have a scanner at home, it will only handle A4 size paper and the hanshi (半紙) size paper we use for most works is a little less than B4 size. Recently, I have been pricing A3 size scanners to satisfy my needs. Unfortunately, there only seem to be three available: Business scanner – expensive, low resolution, but with a handy document feeder; Professional scanner – kind of pricey, high resolution; and Combination printer/fax/scanner – decent resolution for about $500. While the least expensive option was tempting me to sell my A4 machine and go for it, I discovered that Japanese convenience stores are tremendously convenient.
Lawson’s Station provides a scanner for about 50 cents a page. If I zealously scanned two pages a month from my four years of calligraphy, I would spend about $50. Given my current desire to buy a new car, move to Ise, have a wedding, etc., it seems an easy decision. There were some initial bumps; for example, although their machine can upload files from almost any media, they will only download to a USB card. Oops, I showed up with Mini SD and Compact Flash.
Enough dragging of feet: here it is. This is my submission for January of 2009, it is an auspicious message of longevity for the new year. Roughly, “Pine Blossoms Follow the Flight of the Crane”. Pine is evergreen and cranes live long lives, making them both signs of eternity. When cranes launch from the pine trees, tiny blossoms can be seen swirling after them. At the in-law’s house we found this in an old book about poems to display during tea ceremony, so my girlfriend’s father thinks I should paint this one large enough to mount on a scroll for her mother’s tea ceremonies. Actually, I have been thinking about this as a gift idea for certain special people, but haven’t gotten around to the planning necessary to get this done.
This work is in the block script called kaisho (楷書), named after a tree with evenly spaced leaves because the horizontal strokes are generally evenly spaced. Orange marks on the work are made by the society. Circles are good. Double circles (二重丸) are great. The other marks are recommendations for improvement. Because I haven’t made as much time to study, and because the levels get tougher, it has been a year since I last advanced. That day, I was very relaxed and could write smoothly, even though it was my only practice that month. Particularly nice are the double circles, because it has been almost three years since I’ve received them.
I’m feeling lazy today, but next time I post a work, I will try to scan our model and explanatory notes on my home scanner.