Blog has moved to https://shodocalligraphy.wordpress.com

Dear beautiful Shodo learners!

Just in case, you have not read the message below...

This blog moved to the 

I've got a new website

And lately I've started with Instagram updating my daily morning calligraphy-

mainly I put my Sansho-Tai (Three calligraphy styles)practices


Thank you! Merci! Arigato!

20160411_135629_resized.jpg IMG_20160406_055102_resized_1.jpg 




New Shodo site is ready.

My dear beautiful students and visitors!

The new web site of School of SHODO is on line and it is (almost)completed.
Please visit and have a look.
The pages for practice - styles - techniques - history will be added soon.

And it seems like there will be a brand new Shodo blog too.
It might take a while to show you all, but it is on its way!
Meanwhile please stay in touch via this site.

Thank you for your support.
Arigato, Rie

School of SHODO 
The Art of Traditional Japanese Calligraphy


Student's Album : Experiment with Mirai



I've just had some spare energy to spend for Mirai's first Shodo lesson (my daughter)

Her request was " TSUKI - MOON 月", fair enough.

Yes, we did all the warming ups and body relaxing practice as well...

To my surprise

she kept her concentration for a long while and managed to finish her MOON by herself.

And I have to say this innocent abstractness is so refreshing and even gives me some inspirations too.

Well done -  let's try next Wednesday again....


Vocabulary: CHUUSHIN 中心 centre point, the middle point/line



middle point / middle line


CHUU-SHIN 中心 in Japanese means : centre, middle point, middle line.
CHUU is - lit. inside, the centre point
SHIN is - Kokoro, heart, soul, mind, feeling, spirit

In Shodo lesson, we use this word a lot. It has deep diverse views of "the middle" .
The middle point can be also described as
a balance point / line and a harmonious point / line in Shodo.

Normally after you learn Shodo for a while, it automatically grows in you and your eyes are trained to see where "the middle" is - as long as your teacher reminds you each time!
And you'd better ask the teacher and confirm where it is in every text.
CHUUSHIN is indeed an essential element of learning Shodo.
Whenever there is a new text to practice, one should always check the CHUUCHIN 
and study the structure of characters and the flow of the text.

My tip is to find the middle point of a character first
and then a middle line of the whole character


I intend to use this word in my lesson with the meanings like :

the middle point of your body : navel

the middle line of your posture : imagine your spine is lightly hanging from the sky 

being in the middle point  : connection/balance between mind and body, still point

the middle line of your position : on the same line as the calligraphy paper's middle line

the middle point of paper

the middle line of paper

the middle line of brush (vertical line like spine)

the middle point of brush hair

the middle point & line of space on paper

the middle point of character (balance point)

the middle line of character (balance line)

the middle line of a whole text

in the middle of flow : Qi energy is in action

 Rie stamp 

KOUDAI-Broad mind

This is one of my Zen word series from 2012.

I was quite keen to use a soft big brush and 

to create a broad, circled-round and unpretentious effect
like a innocent child with infinite open mind and a smile

in a borderless land.


Zen word
Massiveness, broadness.
Broad mind, spirit, view, outlook

Ink on paper, 50x60cm, 2012

Ein Zenwort, Größe, Offenheit, Zenwort
Ein offener Geist, Einstellung und Ausblick.
Tusche auf Papier, 50x60cm, 2012


KAMI-Calligraphy Papers



Calligraphy Papers


There are mainly two types of calligraphy papers:

Chinese Paper /KARA-KAMI 唐紙 
and Japanese Paper /WASHI 和紙

We can find various types of Kara-kami papers and Washi papers.
And the most common and suitable paper for Shodo is called:
Xuan Paper /SENSHI 宣紙 

- Chinese Xuan Paper / CHUGOKU ESEN 中国画仙
made in China
the main raw materials are straw, bamboo, mulberry..
and the characteristics are thin and its ink blurring abilities.
Ink absorption is quite high.
Detailed texture
It is also suitable for Sumie - ink painting 

- Japanese(Xuan)Paper / WAGASEN 和画仙
made in Japan, one of the Washi types.
the main raw materials are gum-pi tree, hemp, mulberry, rice straw..
the characteristics are thick and its less ink blurring abilities.
The ink absorption is less high than Chinese Xuan paper.
The essence of ink colour appears directly on paper.
Fine texture.
It is suitable for thin calligraphy, Kana or Etegami

* here I note only papers for calligraphy  


Student's album: Thomas's Hitsujigumo (Gyousho) in process

Thomas-san's great process

on the text HITSUJIGUMI (sheep clouds).

His practice has been always a pleasure to look at and

he surely improves his skills every lesson with each text.

The whole practice development from left to right - 

Brush warming up and
some special technical warming ups for Gyousho practice 
Actual practice practice practice...
focusing on detailed movement and spacing
preparatin for SEISHO



Calligraphy styles: KANA 仮名

( syllabic script )


Kana is a calligraphy style developed and practiced only in Japan. 

It is an amazingly delicate, light and elegant script.
-And it is quite distinguishable compare to other calligraphy styles.

Kana text typically runs and flows on fine paper like a gentle water stream
colourful air and whispering secret dreams.

- Kana is considered to be most mastery, skillful and aesthetic calligraphy style.
It needs highly trained techniques and fine skills as well as a deep understanding of aesthetics in spacing and positioning.

It demands of a calligrapher also a vast level of

sensitivity and knowledge of Japanese Waka poems.
Classic Haiku and Tanka poems are very often used for Kana text.

Kana text is very cursive script (Sousho 草書) consisting of KANA  (hiragana) or 
often KANA and KANJI mixture.

A delicate, slim small Kana brush is used for practice.

Kana style is also known as Onnade (woman's/female's hand 女手)
because it was mainly used and practised by court ladys and women
during the Heian-period (794-1185).


                                     * images are from the text archive school of shodo

2015 Hitsuji Gumo 〜 羊雲

Have you already done your calligraphy practice in the new year?

As you may have noticed,

this year 2015 is the year of the SHEEP / GOAT in zodiac calendar.

So we started off with the text " 羊雲 " Hitsuji Gumo.

The direct translation is SHEEP-CLOUD (Floccus clouds)

This is more cursive Gyosho style closer to the stage of Sosho style.

I would suggest to use a medium big or a big brush.


Practice tip : movement is very light and fluid.

: focus on zigzag Z-movement and imagine the waterfall 

: all ups and downs are done with your Qi energy, pay attention on the belly (HARA)

: your shoulders, neck, arms are relaxed and stays in the middle, specially wrists should be unblocked.  

Some warming up practices for Gyosho will help for sure!!

I hope you will have a wonderful time with Shodo practice and 

I wish you a great progress in your art of calligraphy!!

 sheep clouds1

The SHEEP / GOAT people are born in those years:

1931 - 1943 - 1955 - 1967 - 1979 - 1991 - 2003 - 2015

The sheep (goat, or ram) is among the animals that people like most. It is gentle and calm. Since ancient times, people have learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and skin to keep warm. As it is white, people describe delicate and precious white jade to be 'suet jade'.
Thus it is close to the meaning of good things.

People under the sign of the sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, faith in a certain religion and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly. In their daily life, they try to be economical. Women born in this year are willing to take good care of others, but they should avoid pessimism and hesitation. They are kind in heart and commonly have symmetrical figures and features.


Sheep year people are often worriers who are shy, pessimistic, moody, indecisive, over-sensitive, weak-willed and puzzled about life. They are easily inclined to be deeply religious. They are timid in nature and like to be looked after by others. They like flattery, compliment and suggestions from friends. They do not dare to express their love openly and usually have interests in strange theories.

from chinese zodiac guide



TEHON (OTEHON) : Calligraphy Text

Calligraphy Text -(お)手本 - (O)TEHON 

Calligraphy Texts can be monthly or seasonal.

They are normally provided by the teachers, calligraphy schools and associations.

Otehon Texts often present seasonal elements and chracters and

also they are quoted from classic Haikus, Wakas and Chinese/Japanese Classics too.

One can practise several texts in diffenrent styles as well.


Text for Autumn-Winter

This is the text for intermediate and advanced - level students.

It is also a nice text for brushing up the Gyosho style calligraphy.

Here I note some practice points for you: 

- light and soft type of Gyosho

- three different WATER elements

- practice on SEI 清

 - reviewing and stabilizing YORU 夜

- the image of quiet night at the water with crystal clear cold air

- the image of water element-frosty-frozen..

- try to fold the paper into 6 parts for spacing

-with a medium size to big brush ( harder one is recommended)




(霜江、夜 清澄なり。)ー 李白

Soukou ( frosty river)  becomes transparent   at night


Practice: finding the centre point

For learning and practising SHODO,
being able to see the "CHUSHIN" - the middle point becomes quite essential.

The way of spacing and placing the characters does not sound so complicated - but

it takes many on going years to master the art of balancing,

the art of seeing the middle and the aesthetic of space.


Here I introduce the best way to train our eyes and also practice the sense of space.

This can be used for two and four character-texts.

You can only lightly fold the paper, it does not need to be too exact or tight.

I would suggest to fold the paper like below even from the warming-up practice.







And here is for 5-6 character-texts





OTEHON Text : KANA for Autumn season

Here is the kana text for autumn.

It is actually supposed to be for September.

The text is for Kana experienced advanced students.
Make sure you use a special small Kana calligraphy brush and hand rubbed Sumi ink.

If you have some fine thin Kana papers, that would be ideal!!

Isn't it a beautiful season for Kana practise?!

Put your candle on, and enjoy the floating calligraphy, trust me it does make you feel so good and sensual!!


meigetsu ya ike wo megurite yoru mo sugara

名月や 池をめぐりて 夜もすがら

Autumn full moon,
moving around the pond,
the night becomes just endless

Der Vollmond im Herbst,
bewegt sich um den Teich
Die Nacht wird unendlich



3 basic calligraphy styles : SAN TAI JI





SAN-TAI-JI 三体字 / SAN-SHO-TAI 三書体 is

three basic calligraphy styles which commonly used and practiced : 

KAISHO 楷書- Block style (regular script / standard script)

GYOUSHO 行書- Semi cursive style

SOUSHO 草書- Cursive style


書 Calligraphy lesson timetable 2014

kana in red small

Lesson time table 2014 ( till the mid July )

Regular courses

Private session
1 course : 4 sessions ( 90 min.x4 )
-based on the one-to one lesson from beginner to advanced-master level.
-Lesson is normally tailer suited to individual speed/interest/needs.
And it is based on seasonal text, Haiku, Tanka, Zen text...

Fee : 120 euro for one course
: 280 euro for long course 90min. x 10 sessions ( within the time frame of 4 month)
- all materials included.
The text, various brushes, fine quality paper, ink stone, ink are prepared for the lesson.

Time table for Spring / Summer 2014
Di. 9.00-10.30 / 11.00-12.30
Mi. 9.00-10.30 / 11.00-12.30/ 15.30-17.00
Do. 9.00-10.30 / 11.00-12.30/ 15.30-17.00
Fi. 9.00-10.30 / 11.00-12.30

( if little time rearrangement needed, please contact).

Lessons are individually flexibly arranged and booked.
This is the basic plan from the beginning of April 2014.
( *1 or 2 weeks period could be ideal for an effective progress.)
If you have a paticular time table in your mind, please just write to me, I will send you some possible dates. Please send me a contact form from below this page.

If you would like to try your own calligraphy project in the course, I would be happy to advice and support. ( ex: practising and completing paticular character(s), creating special presents, own poems, making original cards, combining Sumie and calligraphy and so on )

Regular Group lessons
At the moment there is no regular group lessons planned for this summer / autumn season.
Please subscribe to be updated every calligraphy season.

Workshops 2014
There is no opened-workshops before summer holiday.
The plan for October-November will be listed soon.

Lesson place and Map
My lesson room is in Heid Ost. Freiburg
Hurstweg 65.
The nearest SB is " Am Lindenwäldele " no.3/ no.5 ( 10-13 min. from the town )
MAP : http://goo.gl/maps/GI8I5

View Larger Map

OTEHON Text for May / June




意味 : 浮世の外に住んでいると 楽しいことは ことに清らかである
( 草書 / 5文字 / 漢詩 / 清 )

:  When one lives outside fleeting world, the joyful pleasant things become specially pure and tranquil.

・5-character text in SOSHO-style, KANSHI Classic Chinese、Qing dynasty

・This text is suitable for advanced students

* on the left hand side next to the text it says -  Kyu and Name where you can write your calligraphy name or name

Enjoy the peaceful moment! 



Practice with Maru Circles 1+2

When the ink is ready and your feeling is calmer,

you would begin with MARU Circle Practice 1.

This is to warm up your senses, connection between body and mind as well as to get used to the brush and check the condition of brush and ink. 
It helps to focus on "the contact surface".

For the beginner, just fold your norm sized calligraphy paper into two section in

order to make a subtile line.

Flow your attention again to your position, posture, hold your brush correctly

and then first time your brush starts to make a circle.

Always make sure that the you hold brush upright, straight.

Circle 1.

- start
from the centre clockwise ( if you are left hander, often non-clockwise would be more natural movement )

- concentrate on the contact surface between the hair of brush and the paper
and try to keep the contact area as same as possible so the thickness would stay even.

- try to flow with the brush slowly and lightly

- Don't you worry about the form or roundness, just focus on the movement of hair of the brush and observe how the hair moves each curve.

- Consciously relax your shoulders-elbow-wrist area and most importantly breathe.

- keep the brush always upright 

- At the end, try to slide out lightly.

- Try a few circles, you would notice the movement and the flow get lighter and your "connection" get closer.

                                                                                                                                                                   *images are from a student Otto-san

MARU Circle Practice 2.

This practise is another stage to sharpen the senses.
It is recommended only after you feel very comfortable with the MARU circle 1.
Mainly it helps to become conscious of "up und down" movement of your Qi energy and to focus on the energy flow of the Navel Chackra.
You would learn to concentrate on the navel chackra and to conduct the energy going up and down on the middle.

Circle 2

- Begin with very thin small contact, try to have as thin contact as possible with the paper.

- start
 from the centre clockwise ( if you are left hander, often non-clockwise would be more natural movement )

- As you circle, try to deepen and make a bigger brush contact on paper without physical pressure.

- try to flow with the brush slowly and lightly

- Don't you worry about the form or roundness, just focus on the movement of your Qi energy via Navel chakra.

- Consciously relax your shoulders-elbow-wrist area and most importantly breathe.

- keep the brush always upright 

- At the end, try to slide out lightly.

- Try a few circles again, you would notice the movement and the flow get lighter and your "connection" get closer.

                                                                                                                                            *images are from a student Otto-san

Those two MARU practise 1+2 are very useful to bring the high concentration

and to have an effective learning process with the text of the day directly


I normally choose the size of the Maru practise paralleling to the type of text.

You can practise with 2 sections / 4 sections / 3 sections / 4 sections on one


Each case, you can lightly fold the paper to mark the measurement lines.

Now we are moving to the SHIKAKU Square Practise 1+2+3.


SAN TAI JI - 3 basic calligraphy styles



calligraphy 3 styles web

SAN-TAI-JI 三体字 / SAN-SHO-TAI 三書体 is

three basic calligraphy styles which commonly used and practiced :

1. KAISHO 楷書- Block style (regular script / standard script)

2. GYOUSHO 行書- Semi cursive style

3. SOUSHO 草書- Cursive style

(1,2,3 from the right hand side)


Calligraphy Text for February


Calligraphy text for the month of February :

5 Kanji characters in Kaisho-style 

with small-medium brush.

( for - intermediate and upper intermediate students-)





川辺の梅の花は 雪をおびて 香りを 放っている

Plum flowers at the river covered with a belt of snow,

spreading over their spring fragrance.


Kana Text for Winter

Here is another Kana text for Winter season.

It is for December and January.

The Haiku is very nice and sophisticated by using the time perspective technique.

The image could be - life energy despite the hardship, a path to the light of spring.





水仙の 花のうしろの つぼみかな

( Behind a Narcissus flower, a little spring bud is just seen though )


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