Welcome to the English page of Udoyoshi Calligraphy Lesson!

■Udoyoshi Calligraphy Lessons are the only place in Japan where you can learn The Exclusive Readable "Wayo" Style Calligraphy

I invented modernized readable "Wayo" Calligraphy from analyzing the history of our ancestors and their obstacles and by reviewing the brush strokes and tools for everyone to enjoy.

■ What my lessons provide you

-"Wayo" style Calligraphy trial lesson. (Reservation required / minimum of 2 persons with a maximum of 8 persons ¥ 3,500 / hour / person).

- Carving your name on the stone of a personal seal. 1 session takes about 1 hour (Reservation required / minimum of 2 persons \5,000 / hour / person)

-Requested design (\50,000 deposit)


■ What is Japanese Calligraphy ?

Japanese calligraphy is written on washi, a type of Japanese paper, using a brush soaked with black ink. The ink is made from soot which is tempered to avoid corrosion and degradation. It was the most common form of information technology that was used until the early 20th century among the countries that used Chinese characters such as Japan, China, etc.

With the appearance of the pen, calligraphy has been relegated to an art form rather than for practical use.


■ Only 30% of written Japanese is "Kanji, Chinese characters"

Written Japanese uses a mix of three types of characters "Kanji", "Hiragana" and "Katakana".

("Hiragana" and "Katakana" are two kinds of alphabet letters which are simplified Chinese characters but invented in Japan. Most Chinese characters used in Japan were imported from China but some were developed in Japan and exported back to China)

Most foreigners have the impression that "Japanese written language equals "Kanji", Chinese Characters". However, the ratio of Chinese characters in Japanese text is about 30% and almost all the rest are "Hiragana".

■ Once you accomplish "Hiragana", you can write Japanese

Both "Hiragana" and "Katakana" consist of 46 characters each. They are equivalent to  phonetic alphabets. Because one character represents one tone the pronunciation can never change, unlike Roman languages.

Once you memorize 46 "Hiragana" characters, you can write and read Japanese sentences in "Hiragana".

We add "Furigana", "Hiragana" or "Katakana" over the "Kanji", for difficult "Kanji", so that you can read the text fully if you have "Furigana" for all the "Kanji" in the text. This is helpful for beginners.


■ I invented The Exclusive Readable "Wayo" Style Calligraphy for beginners, including foreigners

Actually, the phonetic alphabet of Japanese “Hiragana” is seldom used in calligraphy. Contemporary mainstream Calligraphy is Chinese style (referred to as "Karayo").(Details will be described later) So, I made a new Japanese style which foreigners are able to comprehend easier than Chinese characters.

We call this Japanese style "Wayo" in contrast to “Karayo” which is Chinese.

→Further information, click here (just a moment!)

■ The mystery of unreadable Japanese Calligraphy

Although calligraphy is an art form in Japan, it is a common mistake to think that Japanese can read all calligraphy.

Currently, contemporary Japanese Calligraphy is "Karayo" and many ordinary Japanese or Chinese cannot read it at all.

This affect resulted greatly from Japan’s history from the late 19th Century to today.


■ From "Wayo" to "Karayo". Decline of "Wayo"

Thanks to the Edo shogunate, a peaceful, historically long, stable regime of samurai, which lasted 260 years from the early 17th century, the literacy rate in Japan increased. It is said that Japan’s literacy rate was ranked No. 1 in the world at that time. "Wayo" of the "Oie" sect spread to the common people through the temple schools that are equivalent to elementary schools of today. Japanese culture, such as Kabuki, Sumo, and Ukiyo-e, were developed because of the spread of written words.

The Edo Shogunate state relieved the sovereignty of Japan from the emperor until the end of the 19th century. Under the influence of European and American invasions of Asian countries, Japan’s sovereignty returned to the Emperor from the samurai.

It was at this time, the Imperial government adopted one of the Chinese styles, the "Rhouko" sect of "Karayo", as the official writing style.

As a result, Japanese Calligraphy style "Wayo" declined in the early 20th century, which until that time, was in common use for about 950 years from the early 10th century.


■ From brush to pen in modernization: the Decline of the Brush

The late 19th century was the colonization era where most Asian countries were colonized by Western countries.

Japan westernized rapidly both economically and militarily in order to maintain independence.

Under these circumstances, writing materials as information technology changed from brush to writing tools such as pencils and fountain pens. (In Japan mechanical pencils are called "Sharp Pen" because it was invented by the Sharp Co. Ltd. In 1915 and became a commercial success in the world.)

It was the end of "Karayo" as an official writing style with brush. In 1900, with the advent of the pen, calligraphy classes were downgraded to a part of the language classes when they were once a single subject in school education.

Just as the keyboard and the touch panel would seem to have taken over the position of pen, the brush was taken over as a writing tool by the pen in those days.

■"Karayo" bloomed in the field of art and lost practicality

Since the decline of the usage of brush and "Wayo" occurred at about the same time, there was no time to develop the writing style of Japanese in "Karayo". (In 1900 the Japanese government arranged "Hiragana" for use, which used to have many "Hiragana", but reduced the number to 50 phonetic alphabets as 1 alphabet for 1 sound. "Hiragana" style of "Karayo" organized around this time as well.)

Ironically, "Karayo" has achieved its artistic development by obtaining a degree of freedom of expression by discarding its readability of essential practicality. And "Karayo" began to be a strong force in Japan because of powerful sponsors.


■Calligraphy became a main art form through major Japanese newspaper companies sponsoring Calligraphy organizations.

After the Second World War, calligraphy events were prohibited by the United States. But in 1948, Calligraphy was incorporated into Japan’s highest art exhibition, the "Fine Arts Exhibition, the Nitten". It became part of the arts both in name and in reality.

Immediately after joining the exhibition, leading newspaper companies unanimously became the sponsor of Calligraphy organizations.

Afterward, Calligraphy became a popular practice and the exhibitions had as many as 15 million competitors at one time.

Even now, 70%, 10,000 works, of the total number of the Nitten Exhibition is Calligraphy work.

Calligraphy has become indispensable to art in Japan so that now, one can hardly find a day where there is not a Calligraphy exhibition at a major museum in Japan.

■Making a Brand New Readable Calligraphy, "Wayo"

During the time when "Karayo" business was booming, the mid-20th century, some began to notice the market of readable Calligraphy, so-called "Wayo".

However, after World War II, the Westernized Japanese stopped using brush and got used to print. Therefore Japanese could not read not only "Karayo" but also 100 year- old cursive "Wayo".

It was difficult to produce readable style of "Karayo" which ordinary people can read while maintaining its artistry. Therefore "Wayo"’s resurrection through the Development of New "Wayo" was needed.

A few popular calligraphers and styles continue to exist.

But those calligraphers did not have skills to teach and explored artistic aspects too often. They put the cart before the horse so that we cannot read these works. Readable "Wayo" was still not available.

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