Get to Know Garden Glow: Kyomisho Calligraphy

An enchanting new experience will brighten nights at Maymont this fall as the Japanese Garden becomes a mesmerizing, illuminated landscape for “Garden Glow.” Get to know some of the events’ entertainers in this mini blog series!

The following post is by Kyomi Takahashi of Kyomisho Japanese Calligraphy.

Tell us about your organization, Kyomisho.

I have been creating calligraphy art since I was a child in Japan, following my family tradition. Fifteen years ago I decided to combine the traditional Japanese style of calligraphy with modern design elements, creating a mixed media aesthetic and opening an online shop to make my work available to a wider audience. My goal is to use my art to inspire people regardless of their ability to read, write or even speak Japanese. Art permeates all boundaries.

Describe calligraphy – what exactly is it?

Shodo is one of the oldest and most profound traditional art forms in Japan, developed and appreciated since the 5th century. Shodo is the Japanese method of writing, literally meaning “way of artistic handwriting” or “beautiful writing.” In Japan, the written word still carries tremendous weight, and it has been elevated to an art form that has many styles and techniques. In fact, one can be ranked in their level of mastery of the art. It is an ancient art separated from any other creative work. It differs in that its main focuses are simplicity, beauty and – most importantly – a mind-body connection. Shodo’s true calligraphy is achieved by applying the elements of art, line, shape and space. The real mastery of all these elements of art and skill requires a lot of practice and connection with your inner self.

When and where did calligraphy originate?

Shodo utilizes characters that came to Japan from China, introduced in the 5th century to Japan after being developed around 220 AD in China. It remains as one of the oldest, traditional art forms in Japan.

What is the cultural significance of calligraphy?

Shodo is seen in Japan as art at its simplest form, and is used not only to communicate, but to inspire and create wonder. It is often used as a vehicle to contemplate philosophy. Besides practicing Shodo for many years, we learn to focus intensely and become one with the meaning of the characters in the text. In order to do this, one must free his/her mind and heart of disturbances and focus only on the meaning of the character. Becoming one with the moment and what you are calligraphy-ing, essentially, is the core philosophy of Shodo, influenced by Zen Buddhism. I found it always very interesting to see what I have done or my students have done – it is like a mirror of your heart, the moment of flow, and it is never the same. And the ink never lies! Whatever the result, the process of doing Shodo always leads you to a peaceful mind.

What’s the biggest takeaway you’d like for people to know about calligraphy?

Shodo is more than just a method of writing, it is an art form with many different styles. The process of writing is nearly as important as the result, becoming a form of meditation.

Have you been involved at Maymont before this event?

No, I am excited to have my first experience with Maymont!

Get your tickets to Garden Glow to see the Japanese Garden in lights and enjoy Japanese cultural activities and entertainment. The event runs nightly from 6-10pm, October 27 – November 11.

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