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Although it's been years since I studied Japanese formally, I have decided upon invitation from a friend of mine to join a calligraphy class and relearn how to write Japanese 'letters' from scratch.

I have been going now twice a month since the end of summer, and I must say that it has been enlightening.

For example, many of you may know that there are two ways to write the hiragana "so" (そ). It can be written as one stroke or two. Currently, it is being taught at elementary school with the one stroke method, but this has not always been the case.

Apparently about 30 years ago, it was taught as two strokes, which is incidentally my preferred way to write it.

At about this time, a student mentioned, without going into detail, how the "proper" stroke order has changed for some kanji since she learned them at school many years ago.

One of the other students in the class (a high school teacher) said that she has heard that every so often the people in the Ministry of Education are told they need to work for a living, so they change something like this just to show something tangible from their tenure.

I don't know if this is true, but it does show me how relative things such as writing are. To say that "this is how it is" is a fallacy even with something as simple as how to write a simple letter.

Still, there remains much to be said about my own writing, and I really need to make it look a lot nicer. Although I still don't care about how my English looks any more than I ever did, I have finally come to not only understand but also 'feel' that in Japanese, how one writes is almost as important as what one writes.

Although there may not be only one "correct" way to write things, some ways are definitely better than others.


Calligraphy is known for the most difficult thing on Earth thrue millenia's.
It's a big pain in the *** for me too because there are more ways to write one word. Look to the chinese calligraphy there are more then 12 ways to write ''sword'' :eek:

But Mikawa Ossan it's better you learn it, my quote to you is: You are never too old to learn new things.

Give it a shot! Who knows where it good for is:)
My grandfather studies and practices Japanese calligraphy. Apparently he is quite good, although he's far too humble to admit it. I remember showing him some of my hiragana and he immediately began correcting it all until my grandmother scolded him for being so critical instead of praising my efforts. This was just last year so the whole thing was hilarious to me, I didn't take any offense.

I think it's great that a culture can have a writing system that's based as firmly in the artistic presentation of the characater as it is in the content of the writing. I don't think anything like that really exists in the English language the same way. I can understand why many lament the keitai and how due to its widespread use young people are forgetting how to write kanji and not just read it.

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure people would love to see some scans of your calligraphy if it's convenient!
What can you do? Being critical is the Japanese way!

Scans of my calligraphy?

Well, I'm learning "ballpen calligraphy" so it's nothing very exciting. It's basically just a lot of the same letter over and over.
a late reply... but when we received your nengayo last year my parents in law and wife gave you a lot of compliments for your writing style
Thanks, Dutch.

Although you do realize that I could write like a preschooler and still be complimented just as much, right? Japanese people have extremely low expectations for foreigners when it comes to the written language (even lower than the spoken language, and that's saying something!)

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Mikawa Ossan
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