Tools and materials used in Japanese Calligraphy

In the past people had to make their own tools in order to practice shodo, but nowadays things have changed. One could find all the necessary objects in stores across Japan or other countries.

With modern technologies you can order everything online and in a matter of days you will have shodo materials on your doorsteps.

Of course you can order the items separately, like brushes, ink or inkstone, but you can also order all in one package. Normally all these tools and materials are delivered in a medium sized bag which is designed to store them so that you should not break or tear them apart.

That’s why I recommend you to look carefully when you first open it so that each time you finish your shodo practice to store all your items in the same place as when you first opened the bag.

Because this form of art comes from Japan the taxonomy has been kept the same. That’s why like in Zen, you will have to learn the names of these tools and materials as they are pronounced in Japanese language, as many of them don’t have an English equivalent.

Now let’s see what exactly a shodo bag should contain.

Suminbo – a case to store tools and materials.

Suzuri – an inkstone that has a slightly dented end.

Fude – a brush which has a bamboo handle. It comes in different sizes, but at the beginning you should have 2 brushes, with two different sizes, L and S.

Sumi – an inkstick which is used to produce ink by rubbing the inkstone while there is water on its surface.

Hanshi – calligraphy paper which is usually hand made.

Bunchin – a paperweight that is used to prevent the paper from sliding off the felt.

Shitajiki – underlay made from dark felt which is used as paper pad.

Mizusashi – the water container.

Bokueki – the ink obtained from the inkstone.

Bokujyu – ready-made ink.

Fudemaki – brush roll, used to hold still the brushes at storage.

Some of these tools and materials could be seen in the above picture, while others will be shown in a graphic manner within the coming articles.

I hope that this will give you at least a general idea on what you need in order to start the shodo practice, and if you have any questions post them in the comments section.