Monday, February 22, 2021

Japanese Brush Art

I got my Japanese calligraphy kit in Asahikawa 25 years ago. It is the same kit school kids carry to school to grind their ink and practice their brush strokes to master shodo (the way of writing). My low vision students appreciate the high contrast of black ink on white rice paper. My students were amazed at the fact that there is a phonetic alphabet called hiragana, and a separate one for foreign words called katakana, on top of the thousands of kanji characters. No more complaining about our 26 letter alphabet, which by the way, Japanese kids learn as well. I just wrote each student name in Katakana for them to practice.
Then we learned a few brush strokes for a bamboo ink painting. This was just a tiny sampling, as it would take hours and days for them to get very good at it, but there is something relaxing about repeating lines and trying to make them a little better each time. I brought in a piece of bamboo that is much taller than me and could be used to construct a hut, as well as the thin, leave covered bamboo shoots, cut fresh that morning. I showed them bamboo skewers for kabobs on the grill and bamboo paper fans, which they then used to write their name or paint a bamboo image.

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