Shuji/Shodo (習字・書道)

Shuji (習字), also called Shodo (書道), is Japanese calligraphy which is drawn with ink and a brush. Brushes are lively and can’t be controlled by forcible methods, making this art an experience in learning alternative ways to control one’s environment. Additionally, slight distractions may ruin a work, creating a need to sort one’s thoughts and put them aside to be picked up later. Basic study involves practicing writing a model repeatedly and receiving corrective direction from an instructor. Once most forms are mastered, one can become an instructor.

Nihon Shuji (日本習字) is one of many societies for the instruction and promotion of Japanese calligraphy. This society is possibly the most prevalent, their models being used by most public schools for practice and exhibits.

Participants in calligraphy societies regularly submit works to be evaluated by the organization. Based on these works the students are assigned rank. Levels are generally parallel to any dojo (道場) style of study, like karate (空手) or kendo (剣道).

At the higher levels, roughly equivalent to black belts in martial arts, students may receive different levels of teaching licenses.

Many script styles have developed over the centuries and several are still practiced regularly today.


13 Responses to “Shuji/Shodo (習字・書道)”

  1. Emiko Hosoya Says:

    I am looking for on-line type Shuji training program. Or CD that I can learn Shuji.

    Please let me know if you have any information. I live in San Diego, CA.


  2. びっくり Says:

    Unfortunately, online resources are pretty slim. I had difficulty even finding a site about cleaning brushes. One reason is that there is a dojo style of study which is typically insular. Not a lot of folks are forthcoming with info. Another factor is that it is an art, which makes it difficult to study in an impersonal manner. I’ll see if I can turn up any sites in the next few days.

  3. Justine Says:

    Hi, I’m learning japanese calligraphy with a japanese teacher and she gave me the link to the website of nihon-shuji where I would be able to find models to learn the strokes with just the outline of the stroke that we have to fill up with our brush to imitate the stroke and learn to do it more easily. Unfortunately, the website is written with a lot of kanji and I’m not able to read it so I can’t find these models. Can you help me by giving me the direct link to the web page of the site where I can find these models? Or just send these models to me by emails please? :-s
    It’s very important for me to improve my skills with this.

    I wait for your answer.

    Have a nice day.

  4. びっくり Says:

    She probably means the back side of the monthly models for low and mid-level students. They show how the brush should be directed in each place, but she might mean simply outlines of the characters. I’ll have a look see and post another comment.

    Personally, I would be careful about this method. When I notice Japanese kids putting their model under the page and essentially doing the same thing, they lose all energy and strength. The characters end up the right shape, but lacking crisp edges, trailing off of sweeps, and such.

  5. Justine Says:

    Ok thank you to watch it for me ^^
    I understand what you mean about being careful because when I used my brush on these models, I just follow the outline without a lot of energy and strenght but at the same time it helps me to learn to do the form really correctly and I do it on a white page after with more strenght and energy and I think it helps me to improve my skills.

  6. びっくり Says:

    So far, I haven’t found anything on their site, other than some examples that can be blown up and printed out. If I find time, I will go through my catalog of items they sell and see if there is a web site. This may only be for members, though.

  7. Justine Says:

    Ok thank you very much for your help.
    It’s very nice to you to do that for me ^^

  8. びっくり Says:

    OK! Slowly making progress. There is a Kampo website. Kampo is the founder of Nihon Shuji. They sell some products and have an English webpage:

    None of these products look like exactly what you want. The last product in the left column is a set of 25 models to copy. They are red letter models, so I am assuming the backside contains outlines of the strokes with lines inside indicating how the brush should be moving. If that is the case you could photocopy those and put them under a piece of Japanese paper to “trace” with the brush. This set is gyoshotai, which is a semi-cursive script. Not sure if you want that or the basic block script, kaishotai. The models are on B5 paper which might be a pain for copying if you are in the states.

    I will try to find time to scan in images of front and back of a monthly model for a blog post with details.

  9. Justine Says:

    Thank you very much for your help. It’s very interesting what you found for me. Sadly, I didn’t learn the semi-cursive script yet so I’m not able to copy it I think :-s

  10. seanachain Says:

    It is great to see so many people studying calligraphy. Does anyone know of any good sites that have haiku examples? cheers

  11. びっくり Says:

    Thank you for commenting. I don’t know any special sites for haiku, but you might include these characters in any search you are doing (俳句). Also, I just uploaded one of my larger works to my blog… clicking my name should take you there.

  12. Regina Oberndorfer Says:

    Dear Bikkuri,

    is there any chance to register at nihon-shuji from abroad, get exercises and send in the writings?
    I’m living in Germany and would be interested to attend a regular course.

    Thank you

  13. Janine Passmann Says:

    I am looking for a Japanese native who can write correctly for making Japanese menjyous for a karate school. Please contact me if you are interested. 858-735-1991


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