Calligraphy Image


– Aesthetic Development of Japanese Literature

The origin of written culture in Japan can be traced to the importation of kanji from China, which included 50,000 characters. Written forms of kanji went through various stages of development. However, the three most basic styles are kaisho, gyosho and sosho.The simplified and cursive sosho style evolved into kana, the writing system unique to Japan. Women, considered the eloquent vehicle of court culture, preferred the kana style of writing. It was often called onna-de, literally, “woman’s hand,” but is best known as hirakana, or hiragana. These developments occurred during the 10th century. The kanji, or Chinese-character, writing style was called otoko-de, referring to a “man’s hand.” Since the middle of the 10th century, several writing styles of kanji and kana (subdivided into hirakana and katakana) have been adopted in Japan, a rare practice in the world. Different styles of calligraphy flourished, reflecting transitions in political authority, cultural mainstream and religion. Many people left behind innumerable brushworks in calligraphy. As times changed, so did the conveyors of this culture, who were royalty, aristocrats, soldiers and Buddhist monks. It was they who invented, reinvented or preserved various codes and styles, all leading to a spectacular cultural flourish.

The calligraphic collection of the Century Cultural Foundation is, so to speak, a huge mirror that reflects the history of calligraphy in Japan.