What is Shodo?! The ancient Japanese practice of artistic hand writing
SHODO is one of the oldest and most profound traditional art forms in Japan, developed and appreciated since the 5th century.
The world of calligraphy has its long rich history which went through many possible calligraphic styles and expressions during its over 3000 years existence.
SHODO is not only a highly regarded art form in Japan, it is both a skill and an aesthetic. The depth of beauty in SHODO is the result of diverse techniques being accompanied with a flow of brush and ink, essentially with an inner silence/stillness and spiritual concentration.
"SHODO" is a Japanese word which is often translated and described as "the way of artistic hand writing or beautiful writing". Another meaning is "the art of traditional Japanese calligraphy". It is written with 2 Kanji characters.
SHO 書: to write, writing DO 道 : the path, the way or the TAO
It is an ancient art separated from any other creative work. It differs in that its main focuses are simplicity, beauty and - most importantly - a mind-body connection.
Shodo’s true calligraphy is achieved by applying the elements of art, line, shape and space. The real mastery of all these elements of art and skill requires a lot of practice and connection with your inner self.
What I found most difficult for learners is to have a MUSHIN 無心 : the state of no-mind, non-thoughts, a high level of spirituality and a heart free of disturbances. You can describe this as meditative state.
Besides practicing Shodo for many years, we learn to focus intensely and become one with the meaning of the characters in the text. In order to do this, one must free his/her mind and heart of disturbances and focus only on the meaning of the character. Becoming one with the moment and what you are calligraphy-ing, essentially, is the core philosophy of Shodo, influenced by Zen Buddhism.
I found it always very interesting to see what I have done or my students have done- it is like a mirror of your KOKORO, the moment of flow, and it is never the same. And the ink never lies!!
Whatever the result, the process of doing SHODO always leads you to a peaceful mind.
"If music is the art to express the spirit of word with the voice and instruments Sho is the art that expresses the spirit of word with the brush and ink " Rie Takeda