My very late kakizome 2020

For the first calligraphy of the year (kakizome), I choose the kanji for winter. Well, … actually because the lack thereof. Though it is January, we didn’t see any frost worth mentioning yet. Snow? I forgot what it looks like.

Fuyu (winter)

And just as this years winter, my kakizome didn’t came out with a blazing start. Au contraire, it was a painful but valuable lesson not to neglect the basic stroke practice of shodō. I must admit I haven’t been practicing much of late, but when I did, my focus was on the fancy stuff. And certainly not the painstaking and boring kaishō. Deuh…

But wait… is this not exactly like the concepts of kiso, kata, kumite from karate? The theory of karate which my sensei so relentlessly repeated to make me understand karate for real. And though I’m not able to practice karate physically at the moment, my mind is still primed with it’s foundational theoretical basis. Then it hit me in the face *SLAP*.

Kaishō is the kata of shodō silly!!! Gyoshō is kumite, learning to apply techniques. And of course Soshō is the application in which the student transcends the teaching material.

I first felt frustrated about my childlike attempt for this ‘stupid’ so called easy kaishō kanji. But the insight it gave me, wakened a new and fresh determination for practicing kaishō and the basic techniques it teaches to further progress my shodō. What a marvelous start of this year!

Working on a gift… kanji for cat


No today is not ‘Cats’ Day’. Really,… I’m sure that is on the 22nd of February. You didn’t know that right? Japan has a National Cat Day. Isn’t that great!?!

On a more serious note, I would like to introduce the kanji for ‘cat’. The cat can count on some special attention from humans in Japan. Not only is this noticeable during Cats’ Day. Cats are present throughout Japanese culture. They are everywhere. You can even find ‘maneki neko‘ waving at you in a shop window. Cats are believed to be bringers of good fortune.

Many of my friends would agree. Though I’m not an out spoken cat lover myself, many people I know hold a special place in their hearts for this sassy 4, sometimes 3, legged creature. It is for one of those cat loving friends, I made this calligraphy.

First I got to know the kanji by practicing it relentlesly in kaisho. But I don’t really like kaisho that much. I think as an artistic expression… well it has no flow. To be honest, I feel my kaisho is like ‘ki getting stuck’ like a bad sinus congestions. It needs more practice for sure.

Kanji for cat in kaisho

After my kaisho session, I found a really pretty example sōsho, grass script. So I tried to copy the example a few times. It just flowed and I was content with the result.

Cat in sosho

But just a kanji character as a gift is a bit boring. Don’t you think? Sometime ago I was flipping through Pinterest and found this really simplistic but appealing 1 calligraphy stroke graphic of a cat. I kept thinking about the graphic, for sure I had to try it myself. So this was exactly the right time to give it a go. The final result was pretty okay for a first attempt.

How do you think it turned out?

stroke cat

Information for the kanji 猫

Kunyomi = ねこ (neko)
Onyomi = ビョウ (byou)
The kanji has 11 strokes 画. Radical is dog (or animal radical) 犬 = 犭Composed of 3 parts: 犬、艾、田 

Jōyō kanji, taught in junior high

JLPT level N3