Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy)

4-4. Way to use a calligraphy brush

Way to use a calligraphy brush

The first time,
For a water-brush(Harden brush),soak the pen top in water and remove all starch paste by dissolving.
Remove wetness before starting to write. Leftover of glue makes color of sumi bad.

For beginner,dissolving two third of pen top make it easy to write.Once get used,you can dissolve by your taste. For a slender writing(Kana),one third is recommended.

From the second time, soaking into water is recommended to use a brush which have got hardened because of bad care.Pushing a brush on an inkstone and dissolving by force hurt the brush with losing or snapping the brash hair.

How to keep brushes in good shape

key is to wash out ink completely and to dry quickly.

1.Washing out ink

1.In the case of brushes totally soaked into ink


Shake brushes and wash away all ink in the water in a washbasin(A),or,alternatively,wash away the ink by small running water(C).


Ink might be stacked at the bottom of brush hairs so it’s effective to target this part with the running water.It’s even more effective if you gently rub hairs from bottom to top(B and D).Do not rub it hard or push it to the bottom of the basin to avoid damages to the brush hairs.


Very strong water flow may also affect the brush hairs.So it should be avoided.


After washing brushes with water,take the moisture out from the brushes by touching unnecessary papers or clothes(F)

If some ink is still remaining in the brushes,black spots are marked on the papers or clothes(G).Please repeat the step(A)to(D)until no black spots can be seen.

In the case of the brushes made of wool,brush hairs might be eaten by insects or become rotten.

2.In the case of brushes with only tips soaked in the ink

Please wash away ink in the water in a basin or by running water.

Pay attention not to totally soak in the water, because it may damage the base of brush hairs. If you soaked entire hairs in the water and hairs become loosen,you may put some starch paste thinned with water to the hairs and wait until dry.Do not use synthetic starches nor chemical adhesives.

3.In the case of small brushes for writing Kana

If you use them frequently,you may just wipe them with clothes or papers soaked with cleanwater.
Please do not move brushes horizontally not to damage them but move them vertically so that the hair tips can be well shaped.If you put caps on brush tops,it avoids drying up and become hard to use next time.

If you do not use them for a while,it’s better to wash away all ink.


After taking away the water,hung and dry brushes under the shade with good ventilation.Please avoid direct sunshine and hot wind made by driers.

3.How to store brushes

Store brushes after taking away the moisture completely.

1.Do not use caps

When you buy brushes there may be caps attached.However,these caps are not for storage.Please do not use caps otherwise you may damage the hairs of brushes.One exception is the frequently used small brushes for writing kana.You may put caps on but please pay attention not to damage hairs when you insert the hairs in the cap.

2.Use pen stand

If you keep brushes in a box,please fix brushes not to roll in the box.Please do not put boxes upside down.


3.Insect repellent

Since the hairs of brushes are made of animal hairs, you need to keep insects away if you need to store your brushes for a long period. Keep brushes with insect repellent for clothing. There are also some insect repellent specifically for brushes with aroma.


If your place is very humid,please hung brushes on Hikka(literary 'hanging brushes'),a special frame for brushes,in a well ventilated room,or,if you keep your brushes in a box,please use a desiccant to avoid molds to grow.Contrarily,if you keep brushes in a very dry room, cracks may develop on the shafts of brushes.