Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy)

5. Brushes and line expressions

As in the introduction to calligraphy brushes, there are many types of brushes. On this page, differences in line expressions by some brush types are introduced.


Since the fibers of bamboos are solid, lines can also be solid. Bamboo brushes cannot contain enough ink to draw large letters and you may need to add some more ink for completion. Brush hairs are not elastic and it is difficult to draw diversified lines.


Although I might have used a damaged brush, the lines drawn are loose due to the characteristics of straw. Straws cannot contain enough ink and ink run down very quickly.


Hairs are very soft and fluffy, and they can contain a lot of ink. It can draw fluffy but steady lines. It helps to diversify line strength.


It is a mixture of hard stems and soft parts of pheasant feathers. Letters drawn usually include some sharp emphasized lines. Once you get used to it, lines can be unique and charming, since it has some elasticity.


It can contain a lot of ink and lines do not become faint easily. Jumps and sweeps are round shaped. Lines are gentle.


Hairs are firm so the lines are hard and rough.


It is also a mixture of hard stems and soft parts of feathers but much softer than pheasant brush. Its elasticity is just adequate and it is recommendable for drawing variable lines.

a brush mixed several materials (Kengohitsu)

Since this brush contains a lot of wool, its expression is not so different from wool brushes but jumps and sweeps can be much sharper. This is the best brush for training and beginners.

Extra long brush   Sheep/Goat

The line width that a brush can usually draw is equal to the length of brush hair. Extra long brushes can draw from very thin to very thick lines. This brush is recommended to advanced calligraphers.

Short brush Sheep/Goat

Since its pen top is short, it cannot draw lines with various width.

small brursh

If only the tip of hair top is dipped into the ink, lines become thin. If all brush hairs are dipped, medium sized letters can be drawn.