Exhibition of Japanese Calligraphy

March 16, 2014 Comments Off on Exhibition of Japanese Calligraphy

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This weekend we attended a demonstration on Japanese calligraphy at the Portland Japanese Garden by Master Yoshiyasu Fujii of the Meito Shodo Kai, a non-profit organization established in 1996 by students of the Akashi USA calligraphy schools. His wife Naoko began the presentation by displaying traditional Chinese characters that go back thousands of years. Japanese calligraphy traces its roots to the traditional Chinese art form. One of the more formal pieces that Fujii-sensei made during the presentation was his interpretation of ancient Chinese poetry.

Like any craft, it takes years of practice to truly become a master. They described how new students will often draw the same piece dozens of times to get it right. The same piece, over and over, each time being instructed on how to improve. It was truly incredible to see the speed at which Fujii-sensei used his brushes. At one point the moderator noted that it takes years to develop that speed and accuracy. While the final composure might seem random collection of characters, they all require a delicate symmetry. The spacing of each character, its size, the tapering and weight of each brushstroke – all of these are of paramount importance to bring the whole scene together.  It’s always a true pleasure to see a master craftsman work in front of your own eyes.

Yoshiyasu Fujii has a blog here, and if you open it in Google Chrome it will be (roughly) translated to English or perhaps whichever language you choose. The Facebook page for the Meito Shodo Kai is here, and there are some nice videos showing the brush strokes in action (and most of the site is in English). And a good article on Fujii-sensei from the Seattle Times can be found here.

Pictures of the exhibition and demonstration are below, followed by some pictures of the Portland Japanese Garden, one of the most authentic and beautiful examples of such a garden outside of Japan. Oh, and the picture of Fujii-sensei holding up a brush – that brush is made of Chinese goat hair and costs $10,000. That kind of makes the complaints on woodworking forums about the price of Lie Nielsen plane look rather silly.

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