Calligraphy Workshop #1
Today is OUR Kakizome day, and just like last year I again brought in long Washi papers, made in a small village of Kochi prefecture in Japan, for members to use for this special day. The regular calligraphy paper called “Hanshi” is also a kind of Washi paper but it’s commercial product, and the quality is certainly different. As a matter of fact, you may find each Washi paper has its own “personality” depending on how it was made – not only the surface is kind of rough but also it reflects the quality of ink, such as the different tone manifested by the amount of water contained, and the type of the brush used as well. As a result, some would make letters scratchy in grayish tone while the other dark and bold. It is indeed very unique and challenging, however once you understand the character of the paper you’d be able to enjoy not just the writing but the beauty in Art of Calligraphy just like our ancestor did in old time.
Although not all of the participants used the large brush, the atmosphere was certainly different from the other regular workshop – you’d feel their excitement and seriousness. There also sensed a little nervousness from some who may be worrying not making a mistake. Naturally, you want to write it “perfectly” especially when you were given only 2 sheets of paper to finalize the First Writing of the Year, which would most likely be your first and last chance this year. The point is, however, to learn to facing a challenge without fear. That spirit is what our old folks may have hoped for young generations to bring up at the Kakizome. Our participated members didn’t disappoint me, of course.
In the small village where I grew up, around January 15th, we took our First Writing hanging on a long bamboo pole along with the New Year’s decorations to a huge bonfire the village folks built on the ground in front of a shrine and burn them. It was called “Tondo” festival. The paper of Writing went up high in the air like a rising dragon blowing fire. The one rose highest and sustained longest was considered being most successful in the New Year. After the exciting and dramatic moment, there was the most favorite time – roasting Mochi rice cake held between split bamboo so it wouldn’t fall and you’d be able to hold it for a long time as bamboo didn’t burn easily. Something that I remember as the whole Kakizome ritual.