Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy)

2. What is Syuji? How to start Syuji ?

What is Syuji?

“Syuji”means practicing calligraphy.

How to start Syuji

It is common way to start Shuji by taking lessons of Syuji master, either a group lesson or a private lesson, or by learning by oneself.

In the case of taking lessons,a student shall trace a good example which a Syuji master makes, called “Rinsho” ,and then the master correct the calligraphy the student made. It is an advantage that students can be instructed by master in person while watching the way the master correct paper student practiced. On the other hand, it is hard to learn a style a Syuji master is not familiar with. For better or worse, a style of calligraphy becomes just like the way of master's, it is often hard to develop one’s originality.

In the case of self-learning, you can practice whatever you want, i.e. favorite styles, favorite letters. Thought, this way is not the most appropriate for beginners because you hardly learn the way in which a person holds and uses a writing instrument without watching and observing the way. Recently videos for practicing Syuji are available on internet, so these can be good references.

Writing brush calligraphy (Mohitu) and Pen calligraphy (Kohitu)

Syuji consists of two ways, one is writing brush calligraphy and the other is pen calligraphy.

In writing brush calligraphy, generally speaking there are three types; writing Kanji-only, Kana-only, and Mixture of Kanji and Kana. Distinction of these types is not strict, so a person can practice in any combination of these three and create whatever a person wants to express. How to practice brush calligraphy.



Things to prepare

1. Tool

Brush,( Chinese Jjapanese)ink, underlay, paper weight, paper

2. Model for imitation

Choose a book which includes a letter a person want to write. What book a person shall choose differs depending on whether wants to learn a basic skill or artistic skill.

(1) For basic skill

Recommended book for writing basic letters which are easy to read

新版毛筆書写事典 (sinpanmouhitusyosyajiten) 續木湖山編,教育出版株式会社, New edition:Dictionary of brush calligraphy. Price 8190yen (7800yen+tax.)

The book includes 1000 letters taught at Japanese elementary school. Major two styles of Japanese calligraphy: Kaisho and Gyosho, stroke order, balancing, and basic way to use a brush are shown. The book is designed for a teacher at elementary school, so it is the most appropriate as an example.

(2) For artistic skill

Recommended book for writing in an artistic style.Generally classic writings are recommended.

【改訂版】書道技法講座 2:孔子廟堂碑(kousibyoudounohi)[楷書/唐・虞世南(guseinam)],New edition: lecture on writing technique in Syodo2310yen, DVD and original underlay are attached

How to practice

How to practice Syuji “Rinsyo”

Rinsho is to write observing the models (examples).

1st. step


Put a paper on an example and trace the outline of the example,called “Kagoji”

(It is also good to put an example into a transparent bag,or put glass plate on an example)

Observe an example carefully,and trace with a brash without running over lines and making empty space.

In case you are unable to trace as an example

  • Inappropriate size of a brush→change a brush
  • Inappropriate way of handling a brush→change and try different ways.
  • In case for running over lines―over pressure by a brush→try with less pressure/→change to a small brush
  • In case for empty space―lack of pressure by a brush→stress more pressure /→change to a bigger brush

2nd. step

example“山” (mountain)
Put a paper on an example and trace lines of the example

Observe an example carefully, and trace exactly as an example with a brush.

Taking balance is not difficult as tracing lines, so focus on stroke width, starting points, ending points.

3rd. step

example“山” (mountain)

draw an additional line (copy an original example and used the copied)

On a practicing paper, draw an additional line or make bend line by folding paper
Observe an example carefully, and write a letter on a practicing paper. Pay attention to stroke width, starting points, ending points. Practice till a person can trace as exact as an example.

4th. step


Grasp a point of letter shape

Letter shape of 「山」is pyramidal. Draw additional lines.

Draw additional lines on a practicing paper.

After got used, no additional lines are necessary.

Observe an example carefully, and trace exactly as an example with a brush. Pay attention to stroke width, starting points, ending points. Practice till a person can trace as exact as an example.


Write on paper without additional papers

Observe an example carefully, before starting writing.

Grasp starting points,ending points,letter shape, stroke width,direction,and strength of letters.

Write a letter at slow speed with seeing an example on a blank paper.

Write every paper carefully and slowly like making a fair copy.

Compare with an original, check the difference between an original and practiced, correct by yourself.
Practice till a person can trace as exact as an example.